I grew up in a family with four children, so that always seemed like the perfect family size to me. I loved all of the noise in our house. And, as the youngest, I remember how lonely I felt when my siblings all went to college and left me behind!
Our family always ate dinner together. And most days we even ate breakfast together before we all took off, walking to school.
Now that I’m pregnant with my fourth, I’m often surprised by the reaction people show me. I still think four children is a fairly common family size. But people often react with surprise, awe, or dismay when they find out we are expecting our fourth.
They say something along the lines of, “Wow! You are a lot braver than I am!”
I have at least five friends in my life who each have five children, and they tell me they are pretty much considered off the charts. I mean, once you pass four children, you really have to think about the logistics of providing beds, clothing and carseats for that many kids. Even the average minivan won’t seat seven people.
For those who have six or more children, the reaction is that they are venturing into the land of circus act. (This isn’t MY opinion, but what I hear.)
And anything more than that is pretty much grounds for a TV reality show, a traveling musical act or a roving band of minstrels.
Personally, I have always been jealous of people with uber-large families. One of my first friends in grade school was the third child in her family. As the years passed, her family continued to grow until they had eight children.
I loved going to their house. The lived in a two-bedroom house. Their industrious father had converted the garage into a family room. He had created two extra large bedrooms in the attic, complete with a closet that allowed kids to crawl from the girls’ bedroom on one side to the boys’ bedroom on the other.
The physical environment of their house was definitely no where near perfect. But I always felt so warm and cozy to be surrounded by so many young people laughing, playing and running around.
In high school, I attached myself to my friend, Lynn, who is the youngest of nine children. Most of her siblings had moved out of their 100-year-old home, but people always seemed to be coming and going. In fact, so many people seemed to come and go that sometimes I could walk in the front door and hang out for a while before anyone even noticed I was there. I always loved that feeling.
A few weeks ago, we got to see a family of 12 children, who travel around the country performing blue grass. Each of the children could play one or more musical instruments, ranging from guitar to banjo to fiddle to bass. And, of course, everyone in the family could sing.
How does that happen? These parents believed they were “called” by God to have as many children as he wanted to give them. Was their reward that all of them would be healthy and musically talented?
I have to admit that I have never watched either of the TV shows of the two most famous large families in America today. Since we canceled our cable subscription, we no longer get that channel.
But I think I will have to start watching them this winter on the Internet. I know the Duggars get a lot of criticism for having so many children. But not from me.
I will probably look on with envy, wishing I could come over for dinner.
How about you? Do you have a perfect family size in your mind? Do you envy people with larger families or do you think they must be crazy?