So after spending almost an entire week with only six kids (ha!), I have something to say about this. I really try not to be easily annoyed. But sometimes people are so SILLY!
"Yeah, I guess after three or four, it doesn't really matter. What's one more? You probably don't even notice they are there!"
I guess having two less bodies, two less mouths, two less sets of clothes to wash each day, two less showers of hot water, etc. really made me think.
It DOES matter.
Each little (or big) person DOES make a difference.
It's why I have the utmost respect for my m-i-l who raised TEN children. My s-i-l who still has SEVEN of her TWELVE children still living at home. And another s-i-l with TEN. I also have sisters-in-law with six kids (2), five kids, four kids (3), three kids (2), and two kids.
Yikes. That's a lot of cousins.
I would have loved to have ten kids. Or twelve. Maybe not 19. But I would have loved to have MORE. But I am not silly enough to think that it wouldn't be that much different than my eight.
Here's the thing. There is a big difference between one child and two children. Or three. Or four. And it doesn't change being a BIG difference just because you have six or eight.
The problem with that "what's one more?" mentality is that these people look at my family as a "herd". A group of kids. Sweet little "stair-steps" in ages, but a UNIT of eight.
Sure, fixing a bit more food isn't a big deal. Doing more laundry, even. Adding bed and lockers and a bigger pantry is NOT the hard part about having eight kids.
The hard part is that they ARE NOT a "herd".
They are eight individuals.
And you know what?
The are all very different.
Yes, they eat the same meal together at night around our table. Yes, I wash their laundry together and they can all use the same shampoo bottle in the shower. There certainly are some ways in which once you are doing things, doing them for a bunch of kids isn't much different than doing them for a BIG bunch of kids.
But each one of them has a different personality. Different likes and dislikes. Different strengths and weaknesses. Different temperaments, different mental abilities, different EVERYTHING.
Yes, we are a family. We share a lot. We enjoy things together. But I try very hard to NOT parent with the assembly line approach (although I did it a lot when they were all so little!). What works with one may or may not work with another (probably won't!).
I'm learning a lot as a mom of eight. I'm learning to push them TOWARD their strengths instead of being so very concerned about their weaknesses. I'm learning to relax more and ENJOY them more. To laugh instead of getting frustrated. To be consistent even when it's horribly inconvenient (because it's never convenient, is it?).
In spite of some similarities, we are all different. Some are hard workers, some would rather read a book - well, they would ALL rather read a book, thankfully. But some love to work in the flower beds, some love to bake, some love to clean or organize. Some need time by themselves every now and then, others want to be in the middle of the chaos at all times. Some are musically inclined, some aren't (don't ask!). Some enjoy playing sports, some enjoy watching sports (you won't, however, get OUT of sports in this house - ha!). Some naturally keep their stuff neat and organized and some need more help. Some are out-going, some are more quiet. Some are more reserved and some are fearless.
So while having your three or four or six kids hang out with us for the day WILL NOT bother me one bit - it's only because they aren't my responsibility to parent. If it's about playing and snacks and laughing . . . I can handle 100 kids.
But when it comes to being accountable to GOD to teach, train, and most of all LOVE them without anger or impatience?
I'll stick with my eight.
I love them with all of my heart. But sometimes eight feels like. . . well. . . a lot.
One more is just that. . . one more. One more soul. One more heart. One more mind. One more LIFE.
Not just one more little body to feed and clothe.
Which is precisely why I desperately need the leading of the Holy Spirit and the discernment of the Lord and God's perfect wisdom. Every moment. Every day.