Note: This post contains a brief mention of mental illness and trauma.
Dedicated parents should be celebrated for the devotion they have to caring for their kids. Raising any number of children is an important role to fill, and some may decide to initiate a larger family dynamic and have multiple kids.
I recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community with two or more children to share misconceptions they hear about raising families. Here are some of the illuminating responses we received.
1. "Raising these new humans and watching them grow and learn and show their personalities is amazing and fun! Yes, there are a lot of hard or obnoxious things about being a parent, but it’s not the nightmare social media often makes it out to be."
2. "I do, in fact, have an identity outside of my kids and family. Yes, of course they take up a lot of capacity, time, emotions, etc., but I am still a whole person outside of them. Maybe that's not the case for other parents, but being my own person – kids or not – is very important to me."
"Also, the idea that as a parent of more than one kid you have no time for anything besides kids; my parentless friends often work 60+ hours a week and are just as busy but with other priorities. I don't count myself as 'more busy,' though yes, my plate may look different, and I have more cylinders in my life going on, but we're all busy!"
3. "A big misconception is that you’ll lose your identity. In the beginning it’s hard to separate being a parent from who you were before with the long nights, lack of sleep, and general worries. But it does come back. I found it helped immensely to return to work, where I had an identity other than being just a mom. And the older the kids get, the more you’ll become your own person again. Kids may change things around, but trust me when I say you’ll find yourself embracing the change and finding new ways of rolling with it."
4. "The biggest misconception is that 'it goes by so fast.' No, it doesn’t. Some days positively drag by, and I find myself looking forward to the multiple cups of coffee I’ll drink and the brief silence of nap time."
5. "That you should 'treasure every moment' or miss the baby years. I find so much joy in seeing our kids grow and change to become people of their own. The Talmud says about children, 'We push away with the left hand, but we bring close with the right hand.' Love and cherish your kids, but also let them be free to become themselves." —merylblintz
6. "That it's completely miserable and we can't wait for kid-free time. It can definitely wear you out; waking up with a hangover and getting three kids up, dressed, fed, and in the car by 8 a.m. only to drive all over town to drop them off at separate schools and/or daycare is A LOT. But I miss them *so much* when I'm not with them. Sometimes it physically hurts."
7. "'Sleep when the baby sleeps.' I have other children to take care of when the baby sleeps."
8. "Mostly it’s all the things they say they would 'never' do. There were a lot of things I said I’d never do before I had kids, but here we are. I don’t think people always understand how much parenthood can be about survival. I have two children and one has a rare chromosome disorder. So there are things I never did with my oldest that I do with my youngest because the game changes completely when the second child has some special needs." —l401ddeb9b
9. "Childless friends assume we’re being inflexible if we won’t schedule activities during nap times. It’s just not worth it! My two, sans naps, turn them into actual gremlins, and it will likely impact bedtime too. I’m sorry we can’t make lunch at a regular time, but I don’t need any reason for bedtime to be extended or for additional tantrums!"
10. "That kids cost a ton of money. Obviously, you do need things for them, but it doesn't have to cost a bomb. There's so much you can get cheap or secondhand, and half the stuff you think you need you really don't."
11. "I have three kids, and my hands are never as full as people say ... but my heart is."
12. "That every day is a vacation as a stay-at-home mom."
13. "That you become almost an expert on babies with the more you have. Every baby is different, so what worked for one won’t necessarily work for the next one. With each baby you have to learn about them!"
14. "I have five kids ranging in age from 13 years old to four months. I love how everybody I know who doesn’t have children just assumes the oldest two (who are 13 and 11 years old) are a huge help with the toddlers and baby. Yes, they help if we ask, but they are still children themselves and cannot be expected to help us be parents."
15. "'It gets easier.' No, it doesn't. You just grow a thicker skin and get a bit more deaf to the screams and cries."
16. "My favorite was always, 'You're not really a parent until the second kid,' like the first four years of my daughter’s life didn't count. Other people said I wasn't really a mom until I had a son AND a daughter. Because boys are soooo different when they're newborns."
17. "My 'favorite' comment was, 'We have a puppy, so it’s just like having a baby!' – wrong. I can’t leave my child in a cage unattended for half the day."
18. "I’m a foster parent for 13+ aged children, and those without children always say I’m not a real parent, I’m more like a mentor. Anyone with a child who is at least 13 years old calls me a parent and never says I’m like a mentor. Parenting is parenting, and teens have parents, too!"
19. "I don’t subscribe to the idea that having several kids leads to sibling rivalry and jealousy of the new baby. I’ve always worked to avoid jealousy by encouraging closeness between them, never comparing them, and answering their calls for Mama the first time even when I’m busy with the baby. Even if I can’t help them yet, I can at least acknowledge them and prove that their new sibling doesn’t monopolize my attention."
Note: Some answers have been lightly edited for length and/or clarity.