I’m not really sure when it was I started wanting 4 kids. I do remember telling Bill I felt like their was an empty seat in our Suburban (his plan was to invite a friend to take the extra seat), I remember telling him Disneyworld would be so much better because we would have an even number (his plan was to sit out on the rides) and I remember telling him there was an open seat at our dinner table. I honestly always felt like there was a Jacob in my heart and sure enough, it turned out to be true.
Having 4 kids has been crazy, fun, out of control, perfect…and sometimes all at the same time. I once overheard Caroline and Brittany discussing how many kids they wanted to have when they were parents. Caroline (ever the practical one) said “two.” Brittany (more compassionate) said “two or three.” I then interjected…“don’t either of you want to have four kids?” To which Caroline immediately threw up her hands, looked around and declared, “MOM, LOOK at this chaos!” She had a point.
Every mom of 4 has heard (a lot!) the same question….“are all these yours?” My friend Amanda and I used to die laughing about how many times we got that one question. I knew things had really changed for me though when I was pregnant with Jacob. Having 3 girls in 4 years I was used to the inevitable “are these all yours?” at every grocery store checkout, mall outing, park visit, etc. But when I was very, very pregnant with him and was waddling into Walgreens with the girls, instead of the ordinary, I got a new response…..a lady looked at us, shook her head and said…..“bless your heart.” I was in a new territory. Cracked me up.
But bless my heart it has been to “get to” be a mother to these four very, very different children (was I the only one that thought after the first child that that was the make and model of Bill and Darla kids and that they would all be much like the first?!?) Shocked me to find out that truly no two are alike. Each with their own interests, personalities, likes/dislikes (we currently can think of only one meal we all 6 agree on!), etc., but yet the four of them make up the Baerg family.
As recently as three days ago a man in the airport asked me yet again, as he saw 3 pink and 1 blue coat lined up like ducklings behind Bill, “are all those yours?” When I said “yes”, he responded, “that’s crazy.” Maybe, but crazy good most days.
Today I finished reading a book called “The Middle Place” by Kelly Corrigan. It’s a memoir about a mom who has 2 kids and was battling breast cancer. She was facing the reality that she might have to give up her dream of four kids (apparently that’s how many her heart wanted to hold too). What she wrote was validating, freeing and made this mom of four want to cheer.
Here’s what she said:
The way I see it, if you have four kids, you don’t really have to do anything else, ever. Three kids is a handful, but one that many people manage to hold. If you’re a mother of four, you definitely don’t have to have a career or volunteer for the school fund-raiser or even bring an appetizer to the dinner party. In fact, people give you a lot of credit for wearing both earrings and knowing how to spell chaos and antidepressant. Four kids gives you a pass for every forgotten birthday, overlooked appointment, and missing form. Plus, you can be late for everything the rest of your life and never return phone calls. Who’s gonna blame you?
Deliberately having four kids implies that you’ve got the three-kid thing sussed out, like there are big check marks next to each name, and so what the heck, let’s add another one. It’s AP Parenting.
Maybe it’s that every kid I’ve ever met from a big family doesn’t take himself too seriously and has learned things you can’t teach, like how to tranform a pair of hand-me-down jeans into a cool jean skirt with that bandana patch part in the middle or how to make a fort out of plastic bags. Kids from big families make do. They roll with it.
And so, there you have it. Having four kids isn’t really crazy. There are days it makes you crazy, mornings can be crazy, car rides can be crazy, mealtimes, bedtimes, bathtimes….all crazy. And that doesn’t even take into account 4 pairs of braces, 4 playing sports (often at the same time/different fields), 4 college funds, 3 weddings to plan…more craziness.
And yes, there are plenty of days I look around and go “this is my life?!?!”
But as every parent, of any number of kids feels….this IS the life and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.