Happiness is a habit I do not intend to break.

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A few months after Becky was born, some friends and I were talking online about this question of “the next child”. We were pretty evenly spread, with a handful eager to start trying as soon as possible, a handful joyfully planning their husband’s vasectomy, and the rest of us in the middle, covering our ears and shouting “I can’t hear you, LALALALALALA.” Obviously in the months since I’ve come to the “big is beautiful” side of the family size debate, but at the time I was still struggling with feeling like the family we “should” have (two replacements humans, with an extra for good measure) was not the family we were meant to have. Sara, (whose blog you should be reading if you are interested in the journey to becoming a midwife) said something then that I immediately brought to Tom, and have thought about nearly daily since. I wish I had saved her exact wording, but in essence it was this: At Thanksgiving dinner in 2031, who is at the table?

At our table, there are more than three children.

Over the last few months I have started to embrace this family at the table, but then an article comes out that gives me pause. According to Bounty.com, families with four children (and more specifically four girls) are less happy than smaller families. According to their survey, we’ve already passed optimum happiness when we grew from two girls to three, and possibly adding another girl is asking for a lifetime of drudgery and misery. I will admit that, just for a moment, I thought “What have we done?!” I looked over the negatives of having four daughters list, and thought, we do struggle to get the girls into bed some nights. We did have to buy a larger car. When they are sick it is impossible to keep up with them all, and oh they are loud and whiny and picky and and *deep breaths with my head between my legs*

Of course, then I read through the positives of having two daughters and recognized my children in each of those criteria as well. Looking over just this list is almost as laughable as the quote “Two girls rarely annoy their parents with too much noise, confide in their parents and are unlikely to wind each other up or ignore each other,” because this family does not exist. Every family has moments of harmony, but every family also has the chaotic, frenzied, “WHAT HAVE WE WROUGHT” moments, and the claim that the key to harmony is the right combination of children (something that we have no real control over) is at best laughable, and at worst cruel. Where is the accountability for parents, the compassion that not all children are “typical”, the joy in the unexpected?

I don’t claim to know the key to family happiness, but I have a very good idea that it doesn’t have to do with the number or sex of my children. For me, it has to do with the strength of my marriage, with the supportive friendships were are fortunate to have, and with our daily habits of gratitude, curiosity and faith. Having four children (even four daughters) will have its challenges, but I can not even fathom the joys it will bring.

Of course, if we go nuts and decide to have a fifth eventually Bounty.com seems unable to quantify our torment and suffering. *wink*


8 Responses to Happiness is a habit I do not intend to break.

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Oh my goodness. I love how everyone always puts such a terrible spin on big families!
    I know several large families. One of my favorite families has 6 girls and 2 boys and they are the sweetest most amazing girls I know. Seriously. The older two are great mothers, they’re ALL incredibly creative and talented and beautiful. Spending time in their house is pure chaos but so full of love. I am always envious of their family and many other families of people who have many children.
    Jerry and I still talk about having more kids and after this one we’re going to need to decide quickly because NOTHING seems to work for birth control for us. We have super baby making power. lol. I love the chaos that 4 kids has brought and of course sometimes wonder if we’re insane and maybe I should drive us all into a lake. I can totally imagine you with a bunch o’ kids. Tom seems like an amazing Dad and someone that could handle all those girls. I think that’s the most important thing: a strong marriage and both parents understanding they’re signing up for insanity. Big families are beautiful.

  2. Meghan says:

    I would be very interested in looking at the statistics of gross income and job security for the people that they polled in this survey. Yes they say that they are unhappy with 4 kids but are they also working three low-income jobs with little or no health insurance? It seems like the results of this survey may be easily swayed by other information not mentioned. Oh and look at the Duggers! they are breeding an army for God and they are happy as pigs in .. well you know :) lol

  3. Angela says:

    If it makes you feel better hubby’s grandparents had 8 girls. ? Bounty site has nothing over them, even as adults they are all close sisters and each year they have a special sister weekend since they are scattered all over the state. I am in awe of the small house they all grew up in and his grandpa still lives there. Mimi passed away in Oct but she always kept the family in check. For sharing a house with 9 women and 1 bathroom Papa has lived it all and survived serving in WWII
    I have a friend over here who has 4 boys ages 7 mo 4, 7, 9 yrs she is afraid to have a 5th for fear of having a boy. She longs for a daughter ? 4 girls rock. I’ve been watching 4 of a kind. she has an older son but they ended up giving birth to 4 identical quads that came about naturally.. watching that family no one seems to unhappy. They seem like the normal family with teenagers.

  4. Becky says:

    I grew up as the second of four girls and had an amazing childhood and a great relationship with my sisters. I don’t think 4 children is in the cards for us, but wow – was it ever a fun family!

  5. FireMom says:

    PS: This is going in. It goes live Tuesday.

  6. Ginger says:

    Here’s to super happy big families. We’re a over joyed, filled to the top with happiness (and we’re poor) family. I didn’t even know such joy existed. I think a lot of people don’t get it.My in laws don’t for sure. I’m curious what the measure was for happiness in that survey. Here we have our down moments but I’ve never looked back. My life is only complete with these four, and possibly one more.

  7. Pingback: Racing one another towards joy (NaBloPoPoMo #6) | thetrivialpursuitofhappiness.com

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