I realized after reading this article I have a lot to say. I, like the author, have a lot of kids and tire of hearing similar questions. Not because I feel like it is an attack on my decision but rather because I have yet to create a response that I feel explains all that needs to be said to the parent who asks, “How do you do it.” A response that can easily be delivered while juggling 6 kids and some groceries at the checkout, nonetheless!
First I have to say, parenting is a lot of work and I don’t feel like it is easier the more kids you have. Some parts are easier but there are many parts that are doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc, etc. When I decided to have a lot of kids, the idea of it being easier did not come into play. But there are times that I do find myself feeling like it is becoming easier. So I have thought a lot about this and decided that this feeling of easier we talk about is only perceived.
Work, by definition, is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. When I was a child, my parents taught me the benefits of work (thanks Mom and Dad). Growing up on a farm, in a big family, there was always endless amounts of work. Because of this, I grew to understand and appreciate work. As I became older and had more control over what work I wanted to do, that work became much more enjoyable and rewarding. For example when I was a child picking a bushel of beans in the hot garden during my summer break did not give me the same feeling it does now that I value giving my family the best food I can. As in parenting, the more I began to appreciate the rewards, the more enjoyable and easier the work becomes.
I believe parenting several children is only possible due to the simple fact that as your work load increases so does your efficiency and skill level. Due to repetition alone, I have become better and faster at all my tasks. Such tasks as diaper changing, folding laundry, disciplining, and education are acquired on your first child and carried into raising each additional child making it “easier” some might say. If this did not happen, I do not think I could ever handle the ever increasing work of raising a family.
Since parenting forces us to do work, just as living forces us to breathe, we do this work we learn to appreciate, not working, so to say. Many things in life are the same way. Without winter, summer would not feel as good, without death, life would not be as precious and without hunger, food would not taste so good. Because the labor of a family is so great, so in return, is that love. With each new life I create and care for I am greatly rewarded. It is sad to me the parent who looks at parenting as a selfless act, instead of a selfish one.
So to that parent that I meet in the grocery store I shall say....
Well, I shall say nothing I suppose, because figuring it out on your own is the greatest reward of all.
"The art of Mothering is to teach the art of living to children"
..... Elain Heffner.