Sibling love: (L-R) Benjamin. Molly, Jack and Lucas. 

For as long as I can remember, I wanted a big family. My original plan before I had any children was five kids: 3 boys, 2 girls, and a cat and a dog thrown in for good measure.   My sister-in-law reminded me of that when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with baby #4. 

“Maybe it’s twins!” Amy told me. “You always said you wanted five.” 

My husband and I were on our way to the first ultrasound when she said that. I have a twin brother. My husband has twin sisters. When the ultrasound revealed one healthy heartbeat, I exhaled. The thought of twins exhausted me, though I was grateful we were about to be blessed with another baby. 

All yours? 

That “baby” is now two. The noise level in our house constantly hovers between very loud and extremely loud, and I’m forever making trips to the grocery store. The one thing I’ve noticed  when I’m out and about with my crew on those runs to the store or gymnastics practice or at the dentist’s office, or most anywhere, is how people tell me  “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” Often, I even get “Are they all yours?”

Sometimes this comment is an honest observation. My hands are overflowing with children, snacks, library books, a piece of clothing or an art project. You name it — I’m probably carrying it. Sometimes the comment is made by an older man or woman with a wistful smile, as if they are thinking back to the days their own children were little. 

Other times the statement seems to carry a negative connotation, as if I have too many children or I can’t handle them or that my group is in the way. Sometimes it’s said as if I’ve lost my mind because I have four kids or when we are in the checkout line with a toddler melting down over a Reese’s Cup or as I’m ordering my kids to put on their hats and coats and march out of the store.  We hear those comments so often that the kids are keeping tally of it. 

Giving some grace

My kids aren’t perfect — they are children, after all — so we all need to give them some grace if they occasionally misbehave in public or if I have to raise my voice to repeat directions to my older two. But I do believe it’s important to take my kids with me to the grocery store or when I run errands because that is how they learn how to interact with the general public. They need to learn to ask for help from workers when we can’t find the syrup aisle or how to order a meal off of a menu or how to be polite and engage in polite conversation with workers.

I am lucky to have a “large” family and I adore the job of being a mom. There really are so many wonderful things that come with it.  It’s awesome to watch the love our children have for each other, the way they tenderly say “goodnight” at the end of the day, how they like to cuddle up together on the couch, how they miss each other when the older ones are away at school.

I love how they look out for each other, especially when mom and dad aren’t around.

It’s fun to watch the way they cheer each other on and share triumphs and milestones, like using the potty, riding a two-wheeler, finally losing a tooth or the joy of a birthday celebration. 

A heartful

And during the COVID-19 quarantine, it’s been great to have built-in playmates…or sparring partners, depending on how things are going at any given moment. They’ve also enjoyed slumber parties in tents, lots of puzzles and endless giggles. As long as they are together, they feel safe. And that has helped me find a silver lining in all of this. The time we spend together is a gift, just as these four children are to my husband and me. 

Yes, most days my hands are full. But so is my heart.