I don’t actually consider my family to be a large one per say but more of a medium sized one. However, most people do view our family as large and the commonality of having 5 children seems to be less and less nowadays.
Sometimes the guilt that comes from having a larger family can be overwhelming. Earlier this month it all came to a head for me while preparing for my sons’ birthday. With no family around birthdays for our children have always fallen on my husband and my shoulders to make them special. Our son Nathan is our 3rd child and right smack in the middle of our 5 children. He is a hard child to buy presents for because unlike his siblings there is little that he is interested in or obsessed with.
Every year we buy our children a helium balloon; something special that is just for them for a day. While out doing errands the day before his birthday I completely forgot to buy him a balloon. It had been snowing so I was out longer than expected due to bad roads and I was hurrying home to feed the baby. Later that afternoon my husband ran out to the store to try and find him a balloon. My heart absolutely sank when he walked back in the house and I saw that it was the exact same one that he had be given last year. My husband was unphased but I felt like it was just another example of us not noticing or remembering details about Nathan’s life.
For his cake this year he asked me to make him a carrot cake. I thought “Great! That’s easy.” Well…. time got away from me and it was 9pm the night before his birthday by the time I even started baking his cake. I ended up having issues with the icing and by 1:30 in the morning I was spent and knew I needed to call it a night. I went to bed feeling absolutely miserable.
I didn’t think that I feel worse about it but I was wrong because the next day one of my other sons pointed out that I hadn’t done Nathan’s birthday pictures yet. Truth be told I had completely forgotten about them. Knowing that we had a busy week ahead I wasn’t sure when I would be able to do them either.
My first two children had so much attention and one on one time with me. With each of those boys I spent time each day during the week doing tummy time and singing songs to music with them and reading books to them. That was a sporadic event with my 3rd son and quite rare with my 4th child. With my oldest children, I had time to be interested in what they were interested in and do things to a level that I felt was complete with my full attention. Now, I feel like there is no time for anything and that I am constantly rushing through things and therefore everything is only ‘half done’.
Not only do I feel guilty about the lack of time resources but financial ones too. Our family has never been well off and when we had our first child we had almost no income whatsoever. Our children have always had hand me downs and activities have been restricted due to cost. As we have added more children to our family though that has increased even more so. I know that our children are not deprived but sometimes the logical part of my brain is taken over by the emotional part and I am left feeling sad for my children.
I often wonder if my kids are being raised the way that they deserve to be. Will there be a large negative impact on them in the years to come because they have 4 siblings? Will one of my children feel sad or that they are not loved because I can’t give them my undivided attention enough? Will my children miss out on experiences because we can’t travel or explore other countries? Will my children struggle financially as they head off into the world and have their own families because we won’t be able to pay for their post-secondary education?
So many questions and so many emotions.
I do know though that I am not alone in my feelings of concern and guilt. It’s not talked about often but I know that there are other parents with large families feel the same way at times. Having 5 children was the right decision for our family and with that knowledge, we will continue in faith that our children will grow into adults who know that they are deeply loved and that we have done the absolute best for them that we could. That doesn’t eliminate the feels of guilt but it does add some perspective to them for me.