The wonder of having 5 boys in a family of 7…
En mass, I get it, we’re not only a larger than the norm family, but luck also swung firmly in the male direction when it came to our procreative efforts generating 5 boys. We get a myriad of comments ranging from the friendly, yet sympathetic “you deserve a medal – wow, 5 boys!”, after dinner has been inhaled at a restaurant; to slightly icy stares as couples mutter “god, haven’t they heard of contraception?!”, as we herd our monsters through a packed checkout in Tesco’s on a Sunday afternoon. What none of these people realise, and why would they, is that we never set out to have 5 kids, let alone 5 of the same rambunctious sex. Mr Only Girl and I were happily bumbling along as single parents with two mild-mannered (that’s a whopping lie!) boys each, until one day, we met whilst playing football in the park, fell madly in love (not a whopping lie!), became a family with four boys and then thought we’d give the gender-wheel-of-fortune one more spin to have THAT girl – ooops, there’s another boy. So, in a relatively short space of time, we went from two each to five collectively! BAM! A family of seven was created.
We all spend most of our days in very different worlds with the boys at their two schools, Mr Only Girl at work and me, either at work or with Casper – so it was only on our holiday recently, when all seven of us were together day in day out (and didn’t I know it!), that I noticed we might just be different. Something that also, it would seem, came to attention of the surrounding families. The caring, motherly glances of other boy mums – a knowing nod and a silent “Good Luck!”, came in their hoards, as did the macho, telepathic fist pumps, thrown in Mr Only Girl’s direction from other dads – as he clearly put in all the hard work when it came to birthing these five humans.
As we booked on to the plane and into hotel rooms, it was checked and checked again by staff that they had the numbers correct; when we requested a table at breakfast “yes, really, a table for seven please.” We draw a fair bit of attention due to our squad-like numbers and the fact that they’re all blues, but if I’m honest – I bask in the glory. I proudly strut like a peacock displaying our beautiful off-spring. Except, of course, when they’re tearing each other’s heads off in a public area or storming off screaming “I hate you!” because I insist on applying sun tan lotion.
The comments were rolling fast, most positive and I’ve learned to zone out of the not so great ones, but whilst we’re busy trying to stop the boys from impaling/burning/losing or generally injuring themselves we only ever have time to offer a polite smile and shrug of the shoulders to most questions. So, I thought it only polite to finally answer two of the most popular questions and comments…
To those people that ask: “How do you do it?”.
Do what exactly? If you’re referring to just keeping 5 little people alive that’s pretty simple – you chuck food their way every few hours, ensure a healthy dose of exercise each day and at least 10 hours sleep (them – not me – oh, if only!). Boys are like Labradors – incredibly simple requirements of food, exercise, love and sleep. But, if you’re referring to all the other stuff – the washing, the ironing, the refereeing of boy fights, the cooking of at least 4 different meals at dinner, getting to football on time, keeping our house off the toxic-waste site list (I don’t think there is actually a list?!) then I don’t do it very well. Something’s always gotta give, and when kids are involved, whilst they might be the most tempting option, unfortunately they’re the constant; so, the ironing’s never done, the washing gets done when they run out of clean school shirts and so what if the hoovering still needs doing? It’ll be there tomorrow.
My point really is that by “it” I assume onlookers mean “everything”, and I simply don’t do “everything”. Even Maria VonTrapp had staff! There will always be at least 10 things that don’t get done and I’m cool with that – I’ve learnt to let go.
To those people that say: “I’d love that many boys!”
Really? You clearly haven’t thought about that – at all! They might look handsome, well-kept and mild-mannered – but you’re really only seeing a very small part of our hectic day! They’re like buying a small, potted ivy plant from your local nursery – well contained, causing no harm and has the appearance of being controllable – give it food, water and sunshine and it turns into a house wrecking monster that’ll take over your life, your garden and home. This many children, regardless of gender, makes the most simple of tasks (or even non-tasks) into the most mammoth of proceedures – loading into a car is like the final task on The Krypton Factor.
But with all things, there are good times and bad times. I might moan (a lot) about their mess, their fighting and their blatant uselessness but I’d be truly lost without them keeping me manic. We’ve got the right balance of chaos and love – not that I’d recommend popping out 5 boys just to achieve this – nor is it necessary. Plus, without them, what the hell would I write about?!