Sorry! I fell asleep super early last night and didn't get around to answering anything else.
Big families- We don't have a number. I'd like at least 8
However, we believe in just taking whatever God sends. So, we don't try to get pregnant, and we don't try to not get pregnant. It's great place to be because it's so peaceful. I never worry about when it's time to call it quits or if "now" is a good time for another baby. We just trust God. That doesn't mean that I don't dread the tough stuff about pregnancy/birth/post partum time... because I do. But I love when that's all over and I have a sweet new baby in my arms.
Most of the time when I say I have 4 children (or that this pregnancy is baby #5
) (which, incidentally, I don't feel is a large family... not till I get to #6
do I think I've officially entered "big" family territory), I get something a long the lines of, "Better you than me!" or "Wow. I can hardly handle the one I have now." The thing is, once you get past 3 (or 2, for some people), it gets easier. I'm not super mom and I don't pretend to be, so I don't think it takes someone with a special "something" to handle more than a couple kids. I really does get easier. I have found four children to be much easier than 1 child! I have MORE free time with four than with one. And it's not because I make my kids do a bunch of work either. They do help in little ways, but that's about it for now. The reason it gets easier is because they play together. I don't have to entertain them all day. Yes, I have to referee arguments and melt downs, but that's about it.
When I just had one child, I was overwhelmed. I think that's normal. When everything is new and you are doing A LOT of learning on the job, it's crazy. You have to adjust your whole life- and so does your significant other. It can be a bumpy road! And when you add another little one, it stays hard until it's old enough to actually play. It's a lot of work, but if you can keep your head up, there are some great things on the other side!
Another misconception is that it's nearly impossible to financially handle a large family unless you have a large income or are on some kind of government assistance. I know several big families and not one of them is on welfare (I'm not welfare-bashing! I'm just refuting a common belief I encounter). As for us, we live on my husbands income as a public school teacher. We have what we need and, if we budget carefully, a little extra. We take vacations- modest ones, but we have fun-, my kids get birthday presents and Christmas presents. They have nice clothes (usually used, but you'd never know it) and get new shoes when they need them. There are certainly times when I wish we had a little more disposable income for extra stuff... but most people find themselves feeling that way at some point, even when they DO make a lot of money!
In the end, it's all about prioritizing. If you want a big family and you want to be a stay at home mom, you CAN do it, but it takes your spouse to be on the same page (BIG part of it), and commitment. It can be a scary leap to make, but it's so so worth it. In my opinion
One other thing I always hear. When I mention having several children, I have had people say, "Oh. Well, I knew a girl once who came from a big family and she HATED it. She always had to work and take care of the kids and missed her whole childhood." This makes me crazy. I usually respond with, "I'm sorry to hear that. But... I know many, many people who came from small families who hated their families, so I don't think having a lot of children is the problem." The truth is, some families are not happy. If a marriage is unhappy, or if a mother is lazy and selfish, or if the father is nothing more than an adult-child, than that leads to misery and unhappiness. Chances are good that even if those "bad" big families only had one or two children, it would still have been an unhappy household.
Plus, some kids are just difficult and unhappy. We all know at least one person in a our life that is just miserable no matter what. Who knows why or what causes it, it's just how they are.
Of all the big families I know, the unhappy big family is the exception to the rule. Most of the time, these are happy households full of laughter and arguments and noise and music and LIFE. Chaotic sometimes, messy sometimes. But I've never heard a mother say, 'I wish I had stopped at the Xth child." They couldn't imagine life without #8
or whatever. Every child is different and adds it's own beautiful addition to the household. And, often, it's the last child or two that becomes the biggest blessing to the parents. Don't know why this is, but I've seen it many times.