I'll admit it. When I read this intro to an essay titled "To the Mother With Only One Child" by Simcha Fisher, I fully expected it to be about moms with one child thinking because it's so easy for them to go shopping/make their kid behave/travel that it should be the same for those of us with more. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone say to me something like, "I don't understand why you think bedtime is hard, it's the most enjoyable hour of my day!" only to realize that they've only got one kid demanding their attention instead of the zoo at my house.
Read more: 43 Sneaky Tricks to Look Younger
But boy was I wrong! And I'm glad I was wrong. Fisher's essay goes on, "Don't say: 'Wow, you have nine kids? I thought it was hard with just my one!' " She compassionately answers the questioner saying, "My dear, it is hard. You're not being a wuss or a whiner when you feel like your life is hard. I know, because I remember having 'only one child.' You may not even believe how many times I stop and reflect on how much easier my life is, now that I have nine children."
Her life easier now with nine kids than it was with just one?! At first I couldn't believe it but as I read through her essay I too remembered how steep that learning curve is going from zero to "just one." It is hard. It's really hard. And I can't believe that only 9 years after I had my first I've already forgotten that.
Related: The Best Mom Moments of All Time
Fisher concludes beautifully, "To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible. But who I am now is something more terrible: the protector who can't always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go. Dear mother of only one child, don't blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard. You're suffering now because you're turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left."
I cried a little, both remembering those long days of being a mom of just one and also wondering what I'm doing wrong now because my life isn't easier with four kids than it was with one. I'm not saying that the first kid wasn't a tough adjustment - Fisher nails the difficulty of that stage of life perfectly - but having four kids is much, much harder for me than having one. Mostly it's from always being pulled in different directions. No one ever gets enough love and attention from me. There's never enough time or money or gummy worms to make everyone happy.
Related: Learning to Live with Kid Clutter... and Imperfections
But there's also the technical difficulties compounded by four. With one child my house stayed reasonably clean but with four it's a disaster that might someday land us our own reality show (do 9-year-old Lego collectors count as hoarders?). With one I could run errands but with four the errands run me. As in ragged. It takes 30 minutes just to get everyone into the car and another ten to get them into the store. And it's guaranteed at least one of them will pitch a fit. With one I could put him in time out and make sure he stayed there every time he was naughty but with four the only one who regularly makes it to time out is me. And with one I had lots of people willing to cuddle my adorable 9-month-old while I got a break but with four? Nobody wants to watch them except the neighbor girl whom I have to pay a lot for the privilege of one hour's peace.
Having one kid is tough but, heaven help me, four is way harder. Maybe if I get to nine it will start to turn around?
What's your opinion? Was it harder for you going from zero to one child or harder having additional children? Take our poll! (And PLEASE leave me your advice in the comments!)
Is it harder having 1 child or 9?
1. One rocked my world. It was such a huge change!
2. Going from 1 to 2 was the hardest, it was like the work quadrupled!
3. Once they outnumbered my spouse and I, it was game over
4. The more kids I've had the easier it's gotten!
More from REDBOOK:
- 25 Personal Health Secrets From Top Doctors
- 10 Ways to Beat Bloat
- The 18 Most Annoying Male Habits, Explained
- Blow Him Away in Bed:Oral Sex Tips
- Mad Hot Sex Libs
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.