Monday, May 30, 2016

Why You Are Different and Everything Else Is the Same After Baby #4

If you have a big family or are just morbidly curious about people who do, you're going to love Crystal from So-So Mom. As the mom of  seven, she knows what she's talking about, and her guest post today about having a large family is hilariously accurate, in every way.

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.

Why You Are Different and Everything Else Is the Same After Baby #4 -- Ever heard the saying "Once you have 4, you might as well have more?" Well, I'm a believer, and here's why.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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.

Two things keep changing like the size of a snowball rolling down a hill: laundry and expenses. These two items seem to increase exponentially each time a new baby is added to the family!

About the Author:
Crystal Foose mothers seven kids, ranging in age from 2-17, and lives out in the middle of nowhere Colorado. She is a conservative Christian who aims to hone the craft of giving advice without pretending to have this whole mom thing figured out on her blog So-So Mom. She can also be found on her So-So Mom Facebook page.

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Michelle said...

Haha! I love this. As an only child married to another only child and the mother of an only child, I find this fascinating.

Megan said...

Love all of it

Queen Mom Jen said...

I think it is so funny how we change with the addition of each child to our family. It's actually laughably looking back now how I was with the first one. Luckily, she seems to have turned out without any major lasting issues from those days, so maybe I am doing things alright? Time will tell :)

Crystal said...

I am waiting until my oldest is at least 25 to start making any sort of 'turned out alright' claims, but I do have hope! I definitely laugh at myself looking back too.

Crystal said...

I often wonder if people who have one or two kids ever get comfortable with their parenting or if they are in first baby freak out mode the child's entire life. I am always fascinated by the thought that some people's Thanksgiving dinner attendance is smaller than out nightly family dinner attendance!

The Lady Okie said...

This was really interesting to read! I can see how all of these could be true. Especially about not comparing milestones, etc. I'm having trouble not doing that with my first ;)

Jenny Evans said...

We change so much! My friend once compared it to a mobile: every time you add a new piece, you have to change EVERYTHING to get it all balanced again!

Susan Carrol said...

With the fourth, mothering was so easy, slept 12 hours at night and 4 hour naps. Only took a simple soft don't do that, and he never did it again. I am so experienced and good at this, I thought. Then I had the fifth, who ate every 90 minutes around the clock, was only a good baby if we just stayed at home. She could not handle car rides of 5 minutes or 5 hours and screamed all the way. She could not relax after we got home and kept screaming. If I rocked her it was for two hours. If I swaddled her and put her in the dark quiet bedroom, it was only for one hour. I thought she was the exact opposite. Oh no, number six never stopped moving and only slept from 11 pm to 6 am with two nursings during the night and only slept 5 minutes at noon. He could climb out of the crib at 9 months, and was often awake and watching the scary tv movies when Dad got home at 2 am after working late. But the benefit of a large family, is that you don't blame yourself, you know they came that way! Assorted, no choice!
But they all grew up and became amazing, loving adults, who raise great grandchildren.

Jenny Evans said...

It's so helpful to remember that one day, your difficult child will most likely grow into a delightful, well-rounded, contributing member of society... and if karma has anything to do with it, they will also have at least one child exactly like they were.