Did you always want a big family? If not, when did you change your mind?
Nope. Well, I guess it depends on what your definition of "big" is. When we were first married we talked about having four or five kids, which feels like an average or slightly larger than average family around here. I guess most places four is a big family! Our first three children came in three years and were all surprises! So much for that idea of 2-3 years in between each kid! As our family got started more quickly than we planned, we started to reevaluate. (and we realized that birth control isn't so effective for us) My fourth pregnancy was pretty difficult, as was the labor, delivery, recovery...topped of with postpartum depression as well. We knew that there was at least one more child for our family, but if the fifth time around was anything like the fourth, we weren't sure how much more I'd be up for. Thankfully number five was a breeze comparatively because during that pregnancy we both felt as though that wasn't the end for our family, and we started thinking maybe eight would be our magic number, but still knew that we weren't complete after he came along!
What's a common misconception about big families?
Goodness, there are so many, it's hard to pick just one to answer!
I guess the one I hear the most is "you don't seem like you have nine kids, and you don't LOOK like you have nine kids!", as though when you have a big family you must certainly be old, haggard looking, overweight, out of shape, badly dressed, uneducated, uninformed, and a handful of other negative things. Honestly, having all of these kids has been an amazing motivation for me to take care of myself! If I'm not taking care of myself then how would it be possible to take care of them? I have come to realize that taking care of myself benefits not only myself, but my marriage and my children. To be honest, I let things go for a while, buying into the idea that every woman keeps weight from every pregnancy, that 20 (or more!) extra pounds really isn't that big of a deal, and that it really wouldn't make a difference to make an effort. I didn't worry about keeping up with much that was going on outside my home, or about learning new things and improving myself. But as I realized that my energy and attitude were dropping in relation to the effort I made to keep myself well, I realized I needed to make a change!
I am now a runner (and dabble in triathlon occasionally), in the best shape of my life, eating well, and am healthier than I've ever been. I make an effort to stay educated and informed on current events, politics and world issues and to continue learning about a variety of things. In turn these things have had an impact on my family; they are healthier, my kids and husband are very active and are setting goals themselves, we have discussions with our children about things going on in the world around them and are teaching them the importance of being an active part of our community. So many people seem to think that in a large family mom must just stay home and be "barefoot and pregnant" all the time, doing no more than cooking, cleaning, and popping out babies, and teaching her daughters to do the same (and her sons to expect the same from their wives eventually). I am teaching my children that there is great value in many things in life. I am teaching them that goals and self-improvement are important, that learning is a lifelong process. That one can be a good influence whatever their sphere may be. That a woman can be well educated and strong and a mother, and that her influence will affect generations, thus they owe it to themselves and the world to always strive for the best.
How many children do you have? What's the age difference between the oldest and youngest?
We have nine children over a span of 13 1/2 years. Our oldest was born in October of 1998, our youngest just joined us in May (2012). We have four girls and five boys, ranging from 16 months to a few days more than 2 years apart. Our closest together are number 2 and 3, furthest apart are number 7 and 8 (though I did have a miscarriage in between them). Currently our kids are 13, 12, 10, 9, 7, 5, 4, 2, and 3 months.
We have a fabulous patten; girl, boy, girl, boy, boy, boy, girl, boy, girl...we'll have to see if another comes along to shake things up!