Eight Isn't Enough

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with only one child? Stretched beyond your limits with two? Frazzled out completely with three? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have, say, five children? Six? Seven, eight, nine?

The latest pregnancy "just kind of happened." So they prepared themselves for four. "We thought, 'Okay, four is nice,' and then we were quite shocked when it was four and five," says Katy. I asked if they would have any more. Katy and Joe said unequevically, "No, this is it."

"How do you know?" Jacob asked.

"Oh, we know," Katy said with aplomb. "Five kids--that's my max." But she concedes that it's different now that she's quit working full-time. "I'm a lot calmer about the whole thing [having five children]," and Joe says they're in much better shape this time around, " . . . emotionally and financially. We're anxious. We're waiting for it to happen. We're all prepared mentally to make it work."

A family friend interrupts our visit to take the kids outside to play, and I take the opportunity to ask about sibling rivalry. "They have their share of issues but they actually do pretty well together. Matt and Jake are best friends. But they have their moments," Joe confesses. "I say 'best friends, best enemies'; they know how to push each other's buttons," adds Katy. She also thinks Matt and Jake's differences help them to be friends. She even sees Matthew taking on the "older" role (he was born thirty minutes before Jacob) and Jacob takes Matthew's lead. Jenny is just getting to the age where they can all play together. "There's more togetherness than fighting. We try to teach them but we realize that they need to be--are--friends," says Joe.

There are four bedrooms in the house: the boys share one room with bunk beds, and Jenny has her own room, but will share with the twins; Katy and Joe have their room; and they have a fourth bedroom in the basement that they like to use as an apartment. Joe's mother will use it when she comes to visit and help out for a month after the twins arrive.

Katy's immediate concern about having five children is whether or not the kids will be able to participate in extracurricular activities. "I think we aren't going to be able to afford to keep that level with five kids. Those aren't necessarily rational [fears], we'll probably find the money and we'll do it, but it's those extra things for your kids. You can do great with two, but with five, the money gets a little tight." She added that for a lot of people, the extras, such as sending kids to language camps, or to private schools, is why they choose not to have more than one or two kids. With five kids, unless you're very wealthy, you have to make choices.

Joe says that he's worked really hard to put himself in the position he's in; he's making a good salary, so he's not too concerned about taking on a second job or having Katy going back to work full-time. "I'm more concerned about that than Joe. I do the bills. Joe's a little more, 'Oh, we'll be fine,' and I'm saying, 'Oh, okay. I do the bills.'" For starters, Katy's going to try nursing the babies, and she'll continue to hunt for bargains on used clothing and other items from garage sales. "We did cloth diapers for three years; we're not doing cloth diapers again. I did my penance. I did my environmental thing."

"It's not the economics that concerns me the most, in many ways it's kind of what Matt touched on: kids need a lot of attention," admits Joe. His biggest concern is how he's going to make more time for two more kids. "I will; it'll happen, but it's a little intimidating."

"Didn't you say that one of your concerns was about having babies at your age?" Katy asks.

"Yeah, I'm forty-one so I've got to muster up energy now. But having said that, I have no doubt we'll do it; it'll be fun."

Katy says Joe is really good about giving her time to herself. She still has a lot of friends in the Cities so she likes to do little "getaways" to visit them. "I need to be able to do my thing. That's the other concern. I have to, for myself, in order to be sane, find the time, even with five kids, to be able to get away. And I need it even more than Joe; he can go to work [but I'm home all day]."

Spending time alone with Joe is a "little lower on the food chain," for Katy. "First I want to get away, then Joe and I have to find time for the two of us to get away." Nonetheless, they have a set time to reconnect: their anniversary. No matter what, they always go away, even if it's for one night. "We know to plan that into our life. It doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot." Joe says it'll be more challenging now to get away because instead of handing over three kids to watch over, it'll be five. "But we'll parcel them. I would very rarely have somebody take all five."

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