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Octuplets, Schmoctuplets!!

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Guest blogger Christine Bartsch: Growing up with five sisters and three brothers was a lot of fun, but believe me, it's not all cute and cuddly. Here's a rundown of what growing up will be like for the California octuplets.

christines family of nine children
Friends in Family
- The beauty of so many siblings is that you're never at a loss for a playmate or barhopping buddy you can trust. My sisters have become some of my best friends -- now that we've survived the large family chaos of eleven people yelling.

Expanded Wardrobe - Once I hit the teen years, it was kinda nice to have five other wardrobes to pull from. Of course, we'd end up fighting over the same sweater -- because when you share clothes with so many, you tend to forget who owns what.

Less Parental Supervision - When fundamental family activities have to function in military fashion to get accomplished in a timely manner, parents become exhausted and easily distracted, so it was easy to sneak off into trouble. Unfortunately, my oldest brother and sister picked up the slack, so they became almost like a second set of parents who were hip to our schemes. I can't imagine having seven or eight other kids my own age fighting for supremacy. I mean, how much of an edge can being fifteen minutes older than your siblings really give you?

Stretching Food - I grew up drinking powdered milk and plenty of pasta to supplement the more expensive meat and veggies. It wasn't until my twenties that I realized people made chili without noodles -- ours was basically tomato soup dotted with hamburger, kidney beans, elbow macaroni and a dash of chili powder.

No Privacy - For several years, all six of us girls were stacked three high on two sets of triple bunk beds in one tiny bedroom -- so much for secrets.

Forever "One Of"
- When I visit my hometown, people don't remember me, they remember that I'm one of the Bartsch girls. At least I had the individuality of being the youngest. If my siblings had all been my same age, it would have been a bloodbath as we struggled to be individuals on the conveyor belt of large family life.

Waiting in Line - If you think waiting in the bathroom line at major sporting events is annoying, imagine waiting in one every morning. At least as I grew up, the numbers dwindled. I can't imagine the drama with eight teenagers fighting for mirror time. Despite the not-so-great parts, I wouldn't trade being one of nine kids for anything in the world -- but thinking of the California Eight, I'm glad I wasn't a twin.

What do you think the pros and cons of being one of eight would be? Comment below.

next: Saying 'Bye Bye' Kills Kids Every Year
30 comments so far | Post a comment now
kathy February 1, 2009, 10:10 AM

I was third oldest of 9 and I never remember my mom spending time with me when I was small. She was always pregnant or holding babies. I never remember her reading me a book or playing a board game or just sitting and cuddling. Dad told us some stories or sat and watched tv with us some. We older kids ended up “parenting” the younger ones. It never made up for spending time with our parents, though! There is no way the Duggers or this new mom will be able to love each child like they need when they are “working” so hard at just living and providing for so many!

cookie February 1, 2009, 12:09 PM

I was oldest of 12..therefore I was made to take care of the younger ones. I cooked for, bathed, & put to bed. Even sewed for some of the girls. Our mother was no more than a rabbit breeding..didn’t practice any birth control..(we’re not catholic). The youngest boy was born after I married..the baby girl(died) when I was pregnant with my second. I was treated as a slave. It was said by neighbors that “she” had them and I raised them. This started when I was 8 yrs old!! I’m now 65 yrs old & have 5 kids, 14 grandkids & 7 great grandkids. If families with large number of children are on Public Aid I feel that we as taxpayers should have something to say about it. After all, we are supporting them.

michelle February 1, 2009, 1:55 PM

I am 1 of 6 and i had a blast growin up with my brothers an sister, I have 2 older brothers, them me and my sister and two younger brothers. we all et along great. we lived in a small farm house, mom and dad had there own room and all of us kids were in one great big room,,with two to a bed and a curtain up to devide outr room.

Karen February 1, 2009, 3:24 PM

I’m sorry some of you had poor experiences growing up in a large family. Although perhaps the size of the family wasn’t the real problem.

Of course we older kids helped out with the younger ones and helped out around the house. That would be part of raising a child up to be a responsible, caring adult.

As far as spending time with with us individually, I remember having those moments, but not a 1/2 every day. Seems like an idealistic quota stated by someone trying to sell a book.

Children want to spend time with their parents and are curious to learn about what Mom and Dad do every day. Turns out Mom and Dad are taking care of the house and family.

Giving a child chores as he grows up and having them help take care of their younger siblings helps that child to feel important. If I think back, that’s the way I felt when my parents gave me something to do to help out.

When Mom or Dad trusted me with an ‘important task’ which could be helping one of my younger sisters get ready for school, tie her shoes and making sure she grabbed her lunch ~ I felt a sense of pride when they said thanks. That built my self esteem more than anything else. There may have been times when I felt ‘like a slave’ and complained about having to help my younger sisters, but I guess we had so much other play time and were allowed to be kids that I don’t look back at it that way.
(Hint to today’s parents ~ ease up on the overload of extra activities and allow your children to be children)

I supose we were poor although I never really understood that since we had such a rich life in so many other ways ~ having constant playmates with endless creative games, impromptu activities like getting together to go play softball or football for fun and great hiking and camping adventures (see camping quote from previous post).

Our parents weren’t perfect and neither were we, but who and what is? What our parents gave each of us were the tools to grow up and develop into responsible, caring adults which is the ultimate goal for a parent, is it not?

Today we are all successful in very different careers paths that I attribute to good parenting which didn’t mean spending 1/2 hour with each of us individually, every day. Parenting isn’t a timed activity to work into your schedule.

Even today we still have an extremely strong family bond and have lots to say about what each other is doing. (Yes, Christine, I know you being the youngest its a little too much sometimes ~ okay a lot too much)
And yes, we still fight about stupid stuff but I know that if I really need help I have 8 other people I can rely on.

Thanks Mom and Dad

PS. Heaven help any outsider who launches an attack against ‘one’ of us because the other 8 are also there ~ in full force.

Karen February 1, 2009, 3:30 PM

parenting which didn’t mean spending 1/2 hour with each of us individually every day.
Thanks Mom and Dad

-Deb February 9, 2009, 11:55 PM

Well said, Karen (and Christine). I’m the oldest sister, and , while I remember helping a lot with the “little kids,” I never, for a moment, felt like a slave. Maybe it’s because Mom and Dad were always working hard, and helping out was just the expected thing. I feel it made us learn responsibility at an early age, something that a lot of kids today lack—my three kids could sure use a bit more of it. And I recall lots of playtime—but not nearly as much stuff as my kids have—which mainly ends up sitting all over the house! I have nothing but the greatest love, respect, and admiration for my parents—I don’t know how they did it.

sepster February 11, 2009, 10:43 PM

I am the 7th of 9 children. and my dad one of 17 children!!!!That is all from one man and one woman and no twins. when my grandma died my grandfather got remarried to a woman with 9 kids! so that made 26!!!!!! complete insanity. so needless to say i have over 150 first cousins. there is nothing like a huge family to teach about sharing!

sepster February 11, 2009, 10:50 PM

oh and i just wanted to throw this out there for all you haters… neither mine nor my fathers family have EVER been on welfare or any other form of government funding!!

SHERRI February 12, 2009, 11:08 AM

I was an only child and was raised by my grandparents, after 9 years I became the older child to a beautiful 1/2 sister. I was always more of a mother than sister to her even though we weren’t raised together. I now have 2 half-brothers. We aren’t close at all, which is no fault of mine. I tried to keep in touch but being so much younger they don’t really understand the importance of family. I learned even though I technically was an only child. Some of the bennies to being an only child, I can entertain myself for hours without speaking to another person, I love to read, I have no fear of going to new places or meeting new people to name a few. I am thankful for the life I had. For those of you from big families, I guess all that really matters is you grew up happy and healthy. That you have beautiful memories to sustain you. Now I am married to a wonderful man and have 2 beautiful daughters, they fight, they love, they defend each other, would I have more children, sure, but cannot physically support another pregnancy. I do think both large and small families have some very distinct advantages. I do however have a very strong opinion of mothers who continue to have children that they cannot support, to sepster, I am not speaking of you. Since the octoplets are in the news, should I be responsible for supporting a single woman with 14 children? NO WAY BABY!!!

mietwagen March 13, 2009, 6:31 AM

Sehr gute Seite. Ich habe es zu den Favoriten.

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