I had a bit of a Eureka moment today. I decided that the bulk of my stress and ‘overwhlemedness’ may not have to do with the fact that we are a blended family but rather that we are a very large family. I read this week that a family with more than three children is considered a large family in our society. Good news – we qualify with a couple extra to spare.
How are small and large families different you ask? Well, here is what I have learned so far…
Traveling is different, and I mean traveling anywhere – like to the grocery store. First, we have to carefully consider which car to take and how many kids come along. Sometimes it reminds me a lot of that logic problem that is posed to you in high school where you have a chicken, a sack of corn and a fox and you have to get them all across the river. We need the right car with the right driver at the right time with the right riders. Currently, neither of our cars will accommodate our full family.
Going anywhere in public is different. Walk into any public venue – a Wal-mart, a concert, a grocery store with six kids in tow and you get ‘the look.’ Those with large families know the look I mean. It’s the one that says “Wow. That’s a lot of kids” and “What were you thinking?!” all at once. Typically, the look is followed by the questions which goes something like, “That is a lot of kids. Are they all yours?” This makes me want to respond, “No, I just enjoy taking neighbor kids to the grocery store for kicks.”
You spend money differently. With one or two kids, you can occasionally make an impulse purchase or bring home a little treat for your son or daughter. When you have six, you cannot afford to do that.
Having people over for dinner may be a thing of the past. I’ve always been good at throwing dinner parties, but every single dinner is now like a dinner party for eight. The idea of adding people – even a small family of four – seems to tip the scales. We wouldn’t all fit around a table. The din of noise and activity would be too much for most people to bear. Other large families would certainly understand the chaos that naturally comes with a house of six kids, but then again two large families in one house would be really pushing my culinary and organizational limits.
Speaking of food – cooking may never again be easy or fun. Again, if you have one child, you may occasionally make a meal that he/she does not care for. It is bound to happen, but you also would undoubtedly make him/her delighted with some of your cooking choices. With six kids, no matter what you cook, someone will not like it. One won’t eat cheese. One loves cheese. One won’t eat any vegetables. The weight-conscious teen only wants fruits and vegetables.
Yes, there are many differences between small and big families – no doubt there are many I have not yet discovered. Not all of the differences are bad. Big families come with their own babysitters and a wider skill set and more personalities. And though it is likely that not all of them will like a given food or activity, it is also true that with six at least one is usually likely to be happy at any given time. So, I have some adjusting to do, and yes, size does matter.