When I tell people I have five children I see eyebrows raised. Some say they think I'm mad, others comment that I must have my hands full and many ask if I always wanted a big family. If I'm honest, I don't think five children makes a big family and I feel a bit of a cheat. I don't have my hands full, my older children where already in their late teens before the other three arrived. Of course, the fact that I had three children while in my forties also raises eyebrows.
In my heart I believe that every child is a blessing and people should choose how many children they bear even though it does worry me that the world is becoming overpopulated and that times are difficult, even more so for larger families.
I started my family with my husband. Then long after he had gone, and our children were growing up into young adults, I met my current partner who did not have children. We decided to try for two together, the third was an unexpected bonus.
When you have your first child everyone asks when you are going to have another. Two children is a respectable number per family, people accept that readily. Then if you have two boys, or two girls, then people will accept that you may try again for another. If you have one boy and one girl then no-one asks if you are going to try for more. My first two were a boy and a girl, and if I'm honest, even I felt my family was complete. Many years later I had my two girls and I was often asked if I would try again for a boy....mostly by people not knowing I had older children, and already had my boy!
They say the more children you have the easier it becomes. I've never really felt that, I know you get used to having children and that elusive handbook of parenting is already half way written, but can you ever predict what your next child will be like? I find having three young children a real handful. I'm sure it was much easier before when I only had two growing up. Or maybe it's just because I'm older.
Having a larger family also makes life more expensive and more difficult. For instance holidays...I would not be able to afford a holiday for seven of us. Thankfully, my older two wouldn't want to holiday with us anyway and are quite happy to fund their own holidays. I find it hard enough with just the five of us though, most hotels have rooms for two adults and two children...where do we put number three? Even most places where you can go for a day out will offer family tickets which are for two adults and two children. It seems that having three children is just not normal, which is crazy.
So when do you know you have had enough? I'm not sure of the answer to this, it will be different for everyone. I've known women stop at one child because their pregnancy and birth were horrific, or they suffered terrible Post Natal Depression. My first born experience was like that, but it made me desperate to try again to see if I could get things right next time. A little naive of me perhaps, but it worked, my second pregnancy and birth was completely different and I did not get PND again. This is probably why I was content to stop at two, but in reality that was my husband's decision, deep down I longed for more.
By the time my first two were growing up I was thinking that I would never have any more children and starting to get used to the idea. Then my current OH came along and we decided to try for a family between us. It didn't happen straight away and I was hurtling towards my forties. We tried everything, then after just over two years it happened. As I said, we were planning on stopping on two but my body, fate or God even had different ideas and along came baby number five. I started with boy and finished with a boy.
Of course after number five I knew my baby days were definitely over. Not only did I feel that my family was complete, I lost all feelings of broodiness and my body was screaming no more. It was not a hard choice for me to stop.
Is it really so wrong to have more than the 'normal' number of children. We think about the overpopulation problem but isn't that more because we are living longer? Were older generations not bigger families, my grandma had eight children? Just because contraception is available it doesn't mean that people should have smaller families, they should still be able to choose without judgement.