We all need to start doing our kegels in earnest, because according to a survey of 7,164 U.S. mothers, mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels. Ready, set, populate!
This wisdom comes via the moms taking the survey on Today.com. Apparently once you have enough kids, they start raising each other, and you can just eat bon bons all day and get crunk on mad margaritas. Or creepily peddle your creepy politics. Whatevs — the point is, you've got time because you're not too busy being a mother*!
Not only do you have your other children to help, you've given up the dream of doing everything right when you get to four or more munchkins, and so basically you're all "fuck it," and hope for the best. That can mean either a bunch of cool, relaxed kids, or a Lord of the Flies type situation. Or maybe something in the middle — a person, with all their brilliance and flaws.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York and mother of four, says she barely even knows the names of her children. No, I'm pretty sure she does (not confirmed), but she has given up on the idea of ideal parenting.
“There’s just not enough space in your head” for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids, Taylor said. For example, she recalls with her fourth child she didn’t bother with things like obsessively covering all the outlets with safety plugs. “It just gets to be survival!” she joked. Plus, she thinks moms hit a groove once they get past the outnumbered phase of having three kids and into the seriously outnumbered territory of four or more.
“The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities,” Taylor said. “You have to let go… and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.”
However, even when you let Jesus/soap operas/Valium take the wheel, it remains fact that the average mom rates her daily stress level at an 8.5 on a scale of 10, proving that motherhood isn't always a super fun picnic in the park — whether you've packed three place settings, or 19 and counting.
You gotta wonder what affect this has on the children in large families. I remember hanging out with a friend who had tons of siblings and loving the constant slumber party atmosphere. It was more Mickey Mouse Club than The Virgin Suicides, and it was a BLAST. My own boring home housed just boring me and my two boring siblings — at Meghan's we were able to remake Heathers with every character being played by different people. (I was Martha Dumptruck, natch. It was a star turn, natch.)
Karen Hobert Flynn, the mother of four boys, ages from 11 to 16, says that having a buttload of kids has that advantage.
Each child has a built-in playmate; they tend to pair up so no one is left out. And her backyard is always full of kids, even though they have far from the fanciest swingset in the neighborhood.
“We have a critical mass. Kids in the neighborhood would want to come here because it’s an immediate party,” she said.
I don't know about you, but this survey is totally selling me. If the thought of giving birth four times didn't scare the crap outta me — and I didn't want to crush the world under the weight of my very own million baby army — I'd strongly consider popping out an entire cabbage patch. After all, if four is easier than three — then 19 must be a real dream.
*But what about the stress on MOTHER EARTH? JK, let's not get too political — after all, global warming is just a figment of the imaginations of childless heathens.
Photo via Ap