Tuesday, 23 May 2017 07:44

Is it Worth Having a Big Family?

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When I was recently married and saw mothers with four or more young children in the street, I thought that they were a little crazy or that they were irresponsible. I thought about how tiring it was to take care of my two nephews and I imagined the same thing only many times more...

Now I look like those “crazy women”, and I have noticed that it is not like as I thought it was, and that we very easily judge others. When we are out of house, I find it funny how people turn their heads as we walk by. The truth is, society has taught that having more than three kids is going against the norm, and one is complicating her life. But is it worth it? 

I always fight against the idea of single child families, and I am in favor of the idea that a numerous family is a place where generosity and detachments is learned. It´s not as if having a lot of children will automatically bring well-educated children. There is no truth in that fact. I have met families with eight children where the laws of the jungle reigned, and there was much chaos. Now the children, already grown up, are very amiable, but also selfish since they grew up doing whatever they wanted, and fighting their way past their siblings. Therefore, it is not true that they are better educated and everything is easier. Not at all.

It is also false that the older ones take the place of the parents, and in that way, the little ones do not suffer from the lack of affection or attention. In a family like this there is much to change. On one hand, the elder siblings have the right to be and behave like children and they should not receive the sole responsibility of an adult educator. On the other hand, the affection of a parent cannot be substituted by anyone, not even by the grandparents or a guardian. All children need the care of a mother, even if it is in small quantities. I have seen this with my children. If I don’t take time to be alone with each and every one of them, even if it is for two minutes, they feel it at once. 

What is true, is that economies of scale work here; each child that comes is unique and enriches the family with their personality, but the change in the life of the mother when having one child is not the same as when she has her sixth. With the first, the mother is overwhelmed with it being the first time and with being a novice. With the second child, the mother is trained and one child can be with mom and the other with dad, and everything is under control. With the third child, one has to assume that she cannot do everything and that she has to prioritize; for the fourth, one is more relaxed and whatever comes, comes with less importance. If they eat sandwiches because mom did not have time to cook that day, it is no problem. I think that having kids is how you learn to be a mother; in the same way the virtues needed to bring forward a large family will emerge when confronted with such a reality. “Superwomen” do not exist and no one is born knowing how to raise six children. Lastly, we cannot forget that the grace of the sacrament of marriage is there to help us no matter what your familiar reality is.

On the other hand, one has to keep in mind that each family is a unique unit and one cannot generalize. In my opinion, it is not the quantity of children, but the quality. A mother can go crazy with two small children who are close in age and are very hyperactive, jealous of one another and often sick; another mother, with six calm children, responsible, studious and organized will be much more relaxed. This relates back to what we talked about previously, that with time and with a higher number of children one can learn to take things differently and not stress out about more than what is necessarily important. 

We have to recognize that there are overwhelming moments where one would prefer to kick them out of the house when they start fighting. Every time that terrible month of July comes along I am so overwhelmed that I look like a “living zombie”. It is like this. Surely it is the same with two or three children because one can become stressed out with however many children they have.

Some time ago, during a time of stress, I complained to a priest of how difficult it was to do everything and that there were times when my children needed me but I didn’t have the time for everything. The priest caringly looked at me and said that the children need my time and dedication, that is clear, but that is not enough. What they really need is my sanctity. And in the moment that I strive to be a saint for real, all those headaches and “deficiencies” that I thought I had would disappear. “Your children only need a saintly mother and then they will be very very happy”.  He left me without words and with a lot to think about and I realized he was right. The closeness of God and His most holy Mother, full of grace, fills the heart with peace and true love. And that is the love that our children need. It’s a simple love that is at the same time generous and demanding of others, that knows how to discover their necessities and give to them with total willingness and with the outmost naturalness. And as a goal that is inaccessible, he told me: “You have to belong totally to Mary, you have to be one with her, do you understand? You have to spend the day by her side, when you cook, when you change diapers, everything, do everything with her. If you belong to Mary, the Holy Spirit, who is Love, will live in you. Make the effort to be totally hers, with a life that is a total consecration to her”. I loved this and it healed me a lot. And that is now my goal and I am sure that of many mothers. 

And so, is it worth complicating your life by having a lot of children or by leaving things the way they are? Well…individually one decides. Everyone has to live their marital life in the presence of God and with total generosity, without losing sight that God has a plan for each and every one of us and that our mission is to discover what that mission is and live it to the fullest. And if it is with a lot of children- even with the sacrifice that comes along- surely it will also be lived with lots of joy, peace, and happiness because you know you are accomplishing His will. It will not be easy, and things will not always go smoothly, like others think, but surely such generosity will have its reward. And that is worth it. 

Economist from the University of Navarra. Teacher Assistant of the University of Zurich in Macroeconomic. Manager of Aguirretel SL. And Documentalist  of the Asociacion Valenciana de Empresiarios. Currently, I am a full-time housewife and mother of 5 children; in my free time I also help with different educational activities and I am finishing my post graduate studies at the UPV.

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