A better parent than I would have been with just one that is, not a better parent than you (no matter how many children you have!)
I get anxious.
I get riled up I get angry, I guess we all do and I guess we all are our own harshest critics but knowing yourself is a great strength don’t you think? I know that I am a better mum than I would have been if I had stopped having children after our first son was born.
I don’t think this is a magic formula (go forth and multiply and be a better parent the more you have!) I think it would be ridiculous to suggest that this (or any formula) is a universal truth for every family but I know that I am less wound up and less anxious about my children since having our 3rd baby. (I also acknowledge the privilege I have in being able to have children easily- I know this is not an option for everyone.) The older boys help of course, they help practically and having raised them without too much disaster (only one trip to ER which was a once off case of hives would you believe!)Seeing the siblings interact so beautifully and care for each other and play crazy imagination games together can give me the boost I need, the appreciation for how beautiful parenting can be at times when I have just been focused on them not putting the dishes away or the toddle treading mud into the carpet.
Having more children has given me an increasing appreciation for the wonder that is a child. Aren’t they just amazing? I do see many parents of only children have this too but I also see some slipping down the rabbit hole of worry and obsessing about tiny things that will pass, food refusal, toilet training, not making friends easily, drinking too many bottles of milk, bedtime routines. I have gained perspective as I have gained children, that these things generally change of their own accord, that they aren’t anything to worry about and the battles that ensue from trying to change them before the child naturally drifts away from a worrying behaviour, the battles are the worst bit of it all.
Having more to look after has forced us to simplify things.
We all read a story together and the children go to bed at the same time now (as Miss 2.5 has a nap in the day).
I make dinners I think have foods that everyone will eat some of but if you don’t want it, that is fine. No need to force feed. You can eat at the next meal or you will eat when you are genuinely hungry. Children’s appetites vary so much day to day.
The children have learned to help out in small ways, they enjoy it, putting clothes away, stacking or unstacking the dishwasher, the boys get their own breakfasts and some for their little sister (and vacuum the mess up afterwards). Feeding the chickens, emptying the compost bucket. They enjoy being an active part of the family. (We still have some battles of wills with tidying rooms but we are getting there.)
Being a parent of a few has also given us pretty realistic expectations of living with small, loud, messy people.
Those of you who have only children and don’t find the worry and obsessions creeping in I salute you, my natural tendency towards anxiety and some PND probably amplified it for me but I can say that having more children has made me a better parent than I otherwise would have been.
I wonder if we will ever stop having them?