Probably about half the time, I don't have all four kids with me at once, especially if I can plan on doing some things alone or with just half the kids (like go to the grocery store, about 1,000 times easier by myself OMG). But sometimes I do have them all in tow, and with me looking increasingly round with baby #5 I definitely get some comments.
The first being the usual "You have your hands full". Yes, yes I do, now please step aside as I make sure my 4 year old doesn't knock down that lovely melon display. The second most common one is usually someone asking me if we have so many kids because of a religious reason (no we are not Mormon, just for the record). And the third most common is usually when people say something like a woman said this past weekend, when I had all four kids with me at the grocery store. She pointed at my pregnant belly and said "Five is too many kids", in a sorta joking voice.
Now, I am usually polite to a fault. I am the type of person who will be nice and civil even with a totally rude person and then have imaginary conversations on the way home in my car where I tell them where to stick it, but I rarely, RARELY am rude in person. Doesn't happen, it's just not in my DNA, I mean, I was born in the midwest. This time, however, I was tired, not interested in getting into a conversation with all the kids there, and before I realized how rude it actually sounded, my response to her was..."Maybe for you".
Now, I say before I realized how rude it was, because in my head I didn't mean it to be rude. I swear. In my head in that split second where you hopefully are screening your public words before saying them out loud, what I meant was "To each their own", or something along those totally less snotty lines. Instead I sounded cocky and obnoxious, more like, "Yeah, maybe it's too many for YOU but clearly not for me so shove off."
What I meant to say was we all have our own visions in our heads for what family means. For some people that means zero kids, for some people that means six kids. For some people having more than one seems impossible. For some people, like myself, you sort of don't know what your magic number is until you start having kids.
My mom always likes to joke that when I was in college I didn't want to have kids, and it's true. Even though I spent my summers as a sleep-away camp counselor at a Girl Scout Camp and taught kids swimming lessons, I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to be a mom. I loved to travel and write and generally enjoyed a lot of hobbies and interests that kids didn't seem to fit into. I was the youngest in my family and never had the experience of a younger sibling. I just wasn't one of those women who knew from an early age they are meant to be mothers. I didn't have kids names already picked out and even when I was pregnant with my first child I still was living in slight fog of disbelief that I was actually going to be someone's parent.
Once it all happened though, I was on board. I love it all, the changing stages of their ages, the little kisses and hugs and toddlerisms and running out of milk and bread every other day because I have so many little mouths to feed. I love having choo choo trains left under my pillow and crayon drawings taped up on my walls. I love being there to help with homework or to dry tears, and although going through the tougher times of parenting isn't always a bright spot, the older the get the more I appreciate it as part of the entire experience and can see the differences it makes in my personality, in my strength, and in deepening me as a person in general.
So, to be fair, what I mean to say to that woman was "to each their own". The idea of having five kids may be as foreign to you as it is to me to only have one. Neither the parent of one or the parent of six are "better" parents, we are all parents and families and mothers. Five is not "too many" kids for me. Five is the number of kids my heart can hold right now, and I wouldn't want it any other way.