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moms of larger families, does this ever bother you?

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
I came back from a playgroup with moms who, for the most part, have just one child each with a few moms of two mixed in. It seemed like the moms were all complaining about how they can't get anything done and their child doesn't take a long enough nap so they can have some down time. It irritated me since I have three little kids at home, two of whom no longer take naps, and I'm expecting again. I wanted to tell them how easy they have it that they have even a moment to themselves. I wanted to say how it's been weeks since I have gone anywhere by myself or had a moment alone. I keep seeing this over and over, moms with one child talking about how difficult it is while moms of 2,3,4 or more can't complain. I've heard it from SAHMs with children in school as well. I think about all the time I spend homeschooling and how relaxing it would be to have hours alone during the day to get things done with no one to take care then I hear them talk about how they are 'swamped'. It seems like the few times I've mentioned that I'm tired or overwhelmed I get unsympathetic looks and am told things like 'I'd be tired too if I was you' or 'then why are you having another'. I can't even voice a complaint but I look uncaring if I don't sympathize with the SAHMs of one who only get three hours a day to themselves.

Does anyone else feel this way?
post #2 of 100
Well, I'm a mom of one, soon to be two, so I'm not really who you're looking to hear from. But I did want to point out a couple of things that could explain this phenomenon.

One - many moms use complaining about how difficult it is as a way of bonding. It's something all mamas can relate to, no matter how few or how many little ones you have! It's kind of like complaining about husbands, or complaining about how your pants don't fit I guess.

Two - I'd say most moms of only one or two really do think they have it hard, only because they don't have anything to compare it to. If you only have the one, you don't really know what it's like to have three, so you feel like it's hard for you because that's your reference point. Does that make sense?

All that said, I really try not to complain at all about anything in a social setting. I like to be the positive one in the hopes that other people will follow my lead. I prefer to look on the bright side - "hey, I got a whole hour to myself today, which is better than yesterday!"

Maybe the next time you find this happening you could try to steer the conversation toward the more positive things about parenting. Perhaps if other people see that you, who have every right to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, can avoid complaining, they'll do the same!

(Of course, they may not. But it's worth a try )
post #3 of 100
I'm a mom of three, soon to be four (all under 6), so I know how taxing it is--and I know what you mean about not being able to complain anymore. Since birth control is available in our times, there is the not-always-unspoken sentiment of "this was your choice, anyone could have told you it would be a challenge, so suck it up and deal with it." I'm always afraid that if I express my feelings (fatigue, overwhelm at times, etc.), I'm casting a disparaging shadow on all families of three or more.

However, I also agree with Rowansmama. But I also remember how hard it was when I had my first, and what an adjustment it was in my life. In fact, despite the fact that the physical amount of work required for my three kids is obviously a lot more than when I had just one, I DO have a lot more parenting experience and a lot more perspective. I know that things won't be like this forever, that each kid is different, that they're not "robots" who will be predictable every day and nap when I need them to, and so forth.

I think if you can remember back to those times when you thought it was so hard to have just one or two, you might find that you have more sympathy for those women instead of resentment. Plus, they probably think you're super mom since you have more kids and seem to be able to take care of so much more!
post #4 of 100
I think it is hard for all of us. Parenting is hard, period. It's rewarding and the best thing ever (in my opinion), but it's hard. With one child, with any number of kids. I have three now (5, 3 and 1) and I wouldn't dare say a mom with one child has it easier, because I remember having my first. You're learning everything for the first time and adjusting to new normal and it IS hard.

I guess what I don't understand is why it's such a big deal -- who has it harder? Why don't we all just bond as mothers and stop comparing. It's like the SAHM vs. WOHM comparison - being is mom is tough enough without other mom's judgements.

ETA: I just want to add that my sister has six children under five (5, 3, 2 and 8 month old triplets) and has no paid help (just my mom occasionally) and we are very close and talk a lot. Personally, I'd start to get irritated if every time I complained about being tired, she dismissed it and compared her life to mine.
post #5 of 100
I really and truly believe that one child is a LOT more work than two or more.
My kids spend a lot of time entertaining each other and playing together. But when I just had one, all he had was mom to keep him entertained. And he is even a very independent child who would play by himself a lot! So I can't imagine having a normal to needy child without any live-in playmates.

I also believe that complainers tend to run in groups. And once one person starts, the rest just follow and it's contagious. With my group of friends, we actively try to not complain about our husbands or children. We all have wonderful partners and children, there is no reason for us to have a whine fest whenever we talk to each other. Sure, we'll vent on occasion, but we do not spur each other on, instead we offer supportive words and actions. But not all groups are like that! It's really easy to get sucked into.
post #6 of 100
2 thoughts of mine, I run a support group so I hear lots of complaining. First, yes as a mom of 3 I often feel like I can't say anything because "I did this to myself". Second, being a mom of one is hard! When I look back now to when I only had one child, I did have so much more free time but without being able to compare it to what I do now with 3, it was all I could do at that point in my life. With the more children I have, the more organized I become, back then I was all over the place and I just didn't know it. I keep a cleaner house with 3 kids then I did with 1 because I have a whole system in place and what used to take me an entire day, only takes 30-60 minutes now. I have to be like this and do things a certain way or else I would never have a chance, it is just different then it was before.
post #7 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tizzy View Post
I really and truly believe that one child is a LOT more work than two or more.
I completely disagree with this.

Honestly, I don't think there is any "this is harder" in this argument, because everyone's entire situation is different. I do know that one child was much easier in many ways...but I also find that people are more understanding about some things, now that I "have my hands full". WOHMing was brutal, but so is SAHMing, in different ways.

The "this was your choice" argument for moms of "large" families like mine (four kids is not "large", imo) drives me around the bend. Nobody made me get pregnant the first time, either.
post #8 of 100
Being the new mom of one baby (my first child) was much harder than being the mom of 4 closely-spaced kiddos. Truly.

Having a child was life changing. Everything was different, and I was learning as I went along. As I added more children to my family, it became easier each time. I'd learned new parenting skills, I'd figured out how to effectively deal with multiple-child issues. Things that baffled me when I was the mother of one baby became old hat. I've become a much better mother the more experience I have.
post #9 of 100
I have four kids, but there is an eight year gap when DS1 was an only child. I get more done now with 3 under 3 than I did when DS1 was little. It is mostly a matter of perspective, and partially a matter of personality of the kids. DS1 was a high-maintenance type of child. DD was much easier going, and the twins entertain each other a lot.

When DS1 was 3-4 years old, I used to complain ALOT about how difficult it was to get anything done. I didn't bake or really cook for years! Now, I bake 3-6 loaves of bread every Saturday, make yogurt each week, cook dinner every night, etc.
post #10 of 100
Eh. The older I get the more I realize that everyone has good days and bad days. We all have it harder-that's life.

Focus on the good stuff and stop comparing lemons to lemons.
post #11 of 100
And no matter how many kids one has, we all have different lives that we lead. You can't JUST compare a mom of one to a mom of 4. The mom of 1 may have a nanny, a housekeeper, and a cook while the mom of 4 is a single mom and does everything herself. There are just too many variables.
post #12 of 100
I agree with a lot of what's been said on both sides of this discussion.."I did this to myself"...etc yeah, yeah, yeah..whatev...I have 4 kids, one after the other..4 kids in 6 years ...just because I chose to have a larger family than some, doesn't mean that I can't have a bad day too...everyone needs time to vent and have a bit of sympathy for themselves. My DH's mom was one of 9 children, and my mother was one of 6...that seems hard to me...my goodness, could you imagine a family outing with 9 kids? Crap...just getting them all bathed and off to school sounds super crazy

I also have become a lot more efficient in the way I do things, and in some way it is easier...like a pp said multiple children entertain each other, and the things I worried about when I had 1 child aren't a big deal any more. I have extra eyes around while I'm showering, or am doing something that requires a lot of attention. When I had 1 kid, I was never alone. Not in the bathroom, or the shower..I literally put my son in with me, so I could keep an eye on him..hehe..#1 was a slick one...no crib or gate could hold him by the time he was a year old. I don't have that problem anymore...my oldest is 10 and the youngest is 4...it gets easier I promise!
post #13 of 100
Just to throw another potential factor into the mix...

For years, if I said anything about things being difficult (they were very difficult, not so much because of ds1, as because of my ex, but it was all one package - one child, one job, no car, and a husband who was more work than being a single mom came close to being), I'd frequently get the, "oh, but you're so lucky - you only have one". That started when ds1 was about four.

The thing is...by the time ds1 was four, I'd been ttc a sibling for three years. I heard that "you should try it with more than one" or "you're so lucky you only have to worry about one" pretty much until dd1 arrived. By that time, I'd been ttc for 8 years, pregnant four times, miscarried three times, and spent my whole pregnancy constantly working on not panicking. Being told how much harder my life would be if I were so unlucky as to have more children was like being punched in the face...not even a little bit kidding.

Some of the people who said those things knew what was going on in my life. A lot of them didn't - but they still liked to tell me how great I had it, with my only...who was never, ever, ever meant to be an only. (I've got nothing against onlies...but it wasn't what I wanted at all.)
post #14 of 100
No, it doesn't bother me. I guess at some point it did, but I remember having one child and it was incredibly difficult for me, and I think most things are harder with your first child, at least from what I gather from my own experience and talking to other moms. I think a lot of it has to do with experience, being a mom for almost 7 years and having four children, but some of it is just due to having several small children close in age that love eachother. Just a few weeks ago my dh took the boys out leaving me with just the baby so I could clean out my closet. what a joke! there was no "Can you go find your brothers?" when she was re-sorting things for me. Nobody playing trains that she could go watch. I think for a lot of people, myself included, there is such a thing as too much "me" time. Or at least striving for too much, which tends to make people less flexible and prone to disappointment when you don't get however much time you desire/expect.
post #15 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Just to throw another potential factor into the mix...

For years, if I said anything about things being difficult (they were very difficult, not so much because of ds1, as because of my ex, but it was all one package - one child, one job, no car, and a husband who was more work than being a single mom came close to being), I'd frequently get the, "oh, but you're so lucky - you only have one". That started when ds1 was about four.

The thing is...by the time ds1 was four, I'd been ttc a sibling for three years. I heard that "you should try it with more than one" or "you're so lucky you only have to worry about one" pretty much until dd1 arrived. By that time, I'd been ttc for 8 years, pregnant four times, miscarried three times, and spent my whole pregnancy constantly working on not panicking. Being told how much harder my life would be if I were so unlucky as to have more children was like being punched in the face...not even a little bit kidding.

Wow, I would never tell someone they were "lucky to only have one." Not only is that rude - but it would be insulting to my younger kids.

OP, is it the other moms' complaining that bothers you, or not being able to complain yourself? You probably can't do anything about the former, but you might be able to improve the latter - even just by explaining how you feel to the group. I (if I got up the guts to do this) might say something like, "I love having x kids and I don't regret that decision, but sometimes it's challenging. It helps to just vent - I'm sure you know what I mean." Or if you feel like you need to be more explicit, "Sometimes I feel like I can't complain about the stresses of motherhood without people reminding me that I brought this on myself by having a large family. I love having a large family, but I don't think that should make me ineligible for venting about the challenges it brings. I'm not trying to one-up anyone here who has less kids than I do; parenting is challenging no matter how many kids you choose to have. I just want to be able to talk about the challenges I face without being judged or blamed."

I think part of the other moms' reaction is just defensiveness - maybe they feel that your complaints invalidate their own. I'm not saying this is a fair reaction. But it might help if you specifically assert that that's not what you're trying to do.
post #16 of 100
I don't get frustrated so much as somehow sad. I never got to have an only child - it was sort of a two for one deal. I didn't even get to enjoy DS's babyhood as by the time he was about 3 months old I was already on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy with DD. Plus he had special needs that didn't let me enjoy his babyhood OR DD's babyhood. I really, really wish I could have had some one on one bonding time with an only. I really feel *I* missed out on a lot, and I tend to start feeling bad for myself. And as for the whole sleep deprivation thing, when you have two babies who are fighting sleep and no backup, there's no such thing as "nap when baby sleeps" - that's a joke. I would sometimes only get a couple of hours in catnaps a day sitting up, for days or weeks at a time, because there was no time when they were BOTH asleep. While I get that having a child is a BIG adjustment for moms of one kid, or having a new baby after a long break (when the older child is more self-sufficient or even able to help) I don't think they can understand my reality of just HOW hard it was. When you are hallucinating from lack of sleep and wondering how you can make it just one.more.day, like wondering if you will actually make it out of this alive... vs. the "inconveniences" of having a baby to look after (especially if it's a relatively easy baby) or if you have family to support you or a supportive father or whatever... I mean I don't think it's the same thing at all.

But then when I feel bad for myself I look at my friend who has a VERY sick baby who was born at the same time as my DS, and she is the most cheerful, grateful person I know despite having spent... oh, I dunno... literally years in the hospital at this point with her wonderful daughter. And I think she has it a lot worse than me, and I can't imagine *her* reality. Or my neighbor who has a deployed husband - having lived through deployment before (but not married) I can't imagine having to take care of ANY kids (she has two older ones and one sickie baby who also doesn't sleep) while having to worry your head off about whether or not your man is coming home to you. Or, or, or.

Some people have it "relatively" easy and complain. Some people have it REALLY hard and maintain a great attitude. I think we all do what we can, but when YOU yourself are not in a good place mentally (which I admit I'm not always) it makes you more bitter to hear other people complain and you start to compare situations and feel jealous. If you're coping well you will be in a place to be more supportive I think. When I start to get really bitter or sad I view that as a red flag for me to see what I need to improve on my situation - or, failing the ability to do that, attitude. A little self-love and self-care goes a long way I think.

post #17 of 100
I haven't read all the replies-

I am expecting my second child and have dd + dsd (nearly half the time) at home, so we are not a large family-but it does irritate me is when moms of more tell me what an easy time I have of it and how they can't imagine what I do all day, etc.-I think we all deal with our own situations and don't deserve to feel belittled or like we shouldnt' be able to vent/complain to other moms. I bet there are people who have it a lot harder than you too, but that doesn't mean you don't have the right to complain now and again, KWIM?
post #18 of 100
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends. It irks me sometimes that a mom who works a full time job will still send her child to day care even on the days she has off just to hang out and go shopping or get a nail appointment then complain in the same breath they never have time to do ANYTHING. I just kind of . I feel far more sympathetic to the mom who has one child and sacrifices her free time to be more available.

For me, because I have 9 and my life completely revolves around this house and everything and everyone in it, sometimes I get tickled when I hear someone talk about the trouble they have with just one or two...but then for them it really is a struggle. I completely sympathize with that.

One day I saw a lady with her baby and she had two diaper bags, a separate car seat and a stroller. She literally looked like she was taking a trip. The only place she was walking into was the mall. I had all of mine with me that day and all I had was my sling. She looked at me and asked me how I did it and i told her she should travel more lightly. She got this look of and was like . I think she got it.
post #19 of 100
Well, I have 3 kids, which I don't consider a large family but I did want to add one comment. You are talking as if all moms of more than 2 kids don't get time to themselves and that their lives are consumed by children. I think that is a choice. I make a choice that my ME time is of just as much importance as my time with the children. I go out by myself at least a few times a week or I would go nuts. Even if it is just to go wander the mall alone and pick up a few items or go to a movie with a friend it regenerates me. I know not everyone has a partner but I believe a lot of moms (especially AP moms) martyr themselves. That is not necessary to be a good parent IMO.
post #20 of 100
hmmm, I have lots of ideas but nothing solid to add. One was hard for me because I was bored. He was good, relatively easy and predictable, we had no extra money so I was at home a lot and lonely. Dd was much more of an adventure. The three little one that came next are a 'handful' but I have learned so much more about how to cope.

Maybe you don't know all the details of their lives and what they get done in a day. Perhaps they wahm and keep a sparkling clean house and are always fully fluffed and buffed themselves which I think is a taxing amount of work. (This isn't meant to be cheeky, just to give them the benefit of the doubt.)

I think it comes back to looking to the right person when you need to let off steam and pick a sympathetic ear. The other women are just bonding and would be truly overwhelmed at what you accomplish in a day.
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