Have you ever heard the saying "Once you have four, you might as well have more?" I'm a firm believer that it's true.
For me, having a first, second, and third child were all unique events with different accompanying challenges that changed me in a variety of ways. After that, the fourth through seventh babies came along with relatively little fanfare.
I got to wondering why and here's what I came up with to explain why I became such a different mom after number four and everything stayed the same from there on out.
You Are Different Because:
You no longer equate your child's natural development with your personal success. You've experienced wildly differing paces at which your first few children learned to crawl, walk, talk, and defecate in the appropriate place. You are now fully aware that your hard work in these areas is completely irrelevant to the child's mastery of them. This realization has helped you triumph over massive amounts of mommy-guilt if they did not do these things according to the milestone charts or massive amounts of hubris if your eldest was 'advanced.'
You now realize that some kids are drastically more difficult than others. Odds are that your discipline style has produced at least one calm, quiet angel and at least one tantrum-throwing maniac by number four. When your kid misbehaves in public, you can confidently look a disapproving stranger in the eye and say, "It's not me, it's him! I have seen what I'm doing here turn out very well in the past." This has helped you overcome worrying about what other people think and blaming yourself for your child's every flaw. You also no longer believe that the woman who is raising the child that hit yours at playgroup a few years back is the worst mother on Earth.
You've witnessed anecdotal evidence refuting scientific study after scientific study on a myriad of parenting issues. Maybe the child who watched the least TV has the most difficulty with attention issues or that breastfed baby has a ridiculous number of ear infections compared to the bottle-fed one. And everyone has seen that stuffing a baby with fruits and veggies for two years does not make them immune from preferring junk food from the moment they get the first taste. This has given you more confidence to just raise your kids the way you want and not fret about what is supposedly best for them according to science at the moment.
You have seen a number of monumental concerns turn out perfectly fine. That horribly naughty preschooler did not end up in military school and you would truly enjoy just one moment of silence from that very late-talker turned tween. Your brain is busy with the new big kid issues that are coming up as the older children grow, so dealing with the little kid stuff feels comfortable and easy — comparatively. For example, you know that the two-year-old ought to be saying more words by now, but it is pretty low on the list of concerns most days when you have two teens headed off to prom for the first time. This has helped you not sweat the small stuff, the medium stuff, or even the big stuff, just the 'new territory' stuff.
Everything Is the Same Because:
The older children begin to notice a pattern. A new baby is no longer a monumental, rare event in their eyes. It's just something that happens every couple of years, like the Olympics. Once a baby turns two, you will likely hear, "So, when are we getting a new baby? This one is getting old."
Your idea of 'good mothering' no longer changes. Your standards gradually decline with each of the first three children. After the fourth child, your standards flatline for subsequent children. There is simply nowhere else to go.
Your older children are now in school which creates a monotonous routine. You have no choice but to fit a new baby into that routine, rather than alter the routine for the new baby. The arrival of a number five or six has a negligible impact on your daily life compared to the tumultuous events surrounding the births of your first, second, or third child.
They wear and use all the same stuff. You have most likely experienced at least one child of each gender by the time you get to number four, so you have hand-me-downs at the ready for either gender and little money available to get new things.
The years begin to bleed together in your mind. It is easy to remember specifics about two or three children, but once there are more, stories you tell about your kids have lost their individuality. You no longer specify a name and just begin with, "One of mine,..." because you aren't 100% sure which one the story is about.
If this post has convinced you that you should go ahead and just have ten kids now, I must warn you 'everything' was an overstatement.