Seven is Enough

Have big families gone the way of the dinosaurs?Efoclan_1  As most of you know I was the second youngest of seven kids (seen in the center bottom of this photo taken in 1986) so I have a unique look at the big family lifestyle.


  • you can always blame someone else for mischevious behaviour
  • toys, toys, and more toys
  • never had a curfew
  • instant hide & seek game
  • babysitters are easy to find
  • frequent questions about religious preference
  • more exposure to music
  • competitive
  • learned my family shouldn’t sing in front of others
  • become an uncle at age 12
  • adapt quickly to insults
  • plenty of chances to work on new wrestling moves
  • local media does interview about the family and posts crazy black and white photo to accompany the favorable article
  • learned how to share
  • holidays were magical
  • college connections
  • cute girls at the house when I was young, visiting my older brothers
  • lots of blog material


  • all your clothes are hand-me-downs
  • haircuts by dad
  • no money for college
  • no privacy, none
  • lukewarm showers at best
  • not much individual attention
  • difficult to forge a unique identity
  • three dollars was my typical eating out stipend
  • a fast eater since food was limited
  • overly competitive
  • manners weren’t really stressed
  • extended family never visits, "I have cousins?"
  • had to share a bed/room until I was 13
  • participated in the free (or reduced) meal plan at school
  • dad can never remember our names or birthdays
  • divorce
  • increased chance sad things will happen to your family
  • unable to afford health coverage or counseling
  • had to recite the names of all my siblings at the beginning of every school year for each class
  • the canned response, "No, we’re not Mormon or catholic.. my parents just liked to  have kids" got old fast

    The size of my family has been an anomaly my entire life. I know I didn’t grow up in the largest family in our little community. Heck my co-worker is one of 11 kids. I honestly don’t know why my parents wanted so many kids, yet I’m thankful they did or else I likely wouldn’t be here today. Large families have very interesting dynamics and this post conjured up great memories (and some bad ones) of my youth.

    TODAY’S RULED OUT BABY NAMES: Slobodan, Teresa, Tatonka, August, Merle, Shyra, Lipitor, and Tonya.

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    About lessinges

    Seattle native, discovering life! I like ice cream, cold cereal, and The Amazing Race.
    This entry was posted in Storytelling. Bookmark the permalink.

    65 Responses to Seven is Enough

    1. mez says:

      I only have one brother and I used to wish so much that I had more siblings to play with. Being the eldest isn’t always fun – sometimes I really wanted the excuse of being the youngest and getting away with murder!
      I met a mother today who has 10 children (her youngest started school today)! TEN! That might be a bit much. Actually there are quite a few families at the school with 6 or 7 kids in the family – so I guess big families haven’t really gone the way of the dinosaurs if my area is a way to judge by..
      I have a personal rule – if I have to upgrade to a bigger than standard car then that’s just waaaaay too many kids. SUVs are bloody evil.

    2. Amy says:

      My mom was the second youngest of seven also. She can hardly remember her oldest sister living at home.
      I am the oldest of 2. My brother came along when I was 4 1/2. After all those years of being an only child, it was a big adjustment to learn to share. 30 years later, I still have trouble in that area.

    3. ubermilf says:

      No SLOBODAN??? Damn.
      Nowadays, 4 kids is a “big family.” I could go into a socio-political discussion, but I won’t.
      Have you considered “Huck” as a name?

    4. Mone says:

      I have just one sister but always loved the idea of huge families. I have two kids now and even if its difficult sometimes, I would love to have some more.
      I guess I’ll wait for the grandkids, hahaha.

    5. Mone says:

      I have just one sister but always loved the idea of huge families. I have two kids now and even if its difficult sometimes, I would love to have some more.
      I guess I’ll wait for the grandkids, hahaha.

    6. furiousball says:

      I only had one sister, but my best friend had an older sister and brother. I always wanted an older brother. But then again his older brother was an expert in hippity-hop kung fu. This ancient (dating back to 1978) martial inflatable art consisted of older brother grabbing the hippity hop and beginning the countdown from 3. My friend would go flailing and running away, usually in a serpentine pattern to avoid the pummeling. Sometimes older brother would be honorable and wait until 1, sometimes not. Either way, my friend would be tattooed with the hippity hop mercilessly…so yeah, scratch the whole older brother idea.

    7. meno says:

      I have two older brothers, so getting beaten up a lot was a hazard. Then when i was older they brought their (sometimes) cute friends over.
      Have you ruled out Percival and Hepzibah yet? It’s not too soon.

    8. Curare_z says:

      But Lipitor has SUCH a nice ring to it….

    9. kelwhy says:

      You know, you may be passing up some baby names that you MIGHT wanna come back to. I’m just saying – don’t EVER rule them out completely – I mean, really…Merle? think about it…

    10. Amanda says:

      Love the bowl cut!!
      I thought my family was large – but there was only us 4 kids, so 6 total living in a house with one bathroom (1 bathroom — 3 boys and 1 girl, plus mom & dad needing to use the toilet, too…chaos you can imagine). But it’s nothing compared to yours!! Wow!
      I think the pros out weight the cons, though. While I still want to eat all of the cereal we buy before my husband can get to it (residual from living with 3 brothers), I think overall I am a stronger person for it. Basically, I can’t imagine a life without my family.

    11. snavy says:

      Now-a-days, most of us just cannot afford to have larger families.

    12. I’m the oldest of four kids. I’m constantly amazed, even as an adult with two kids, that I can still get some ‘bathroom time’ by myself and not be interrupted.

    13. I have a friend who has 6 siblings and a few of them have scars from splitting open their chins or heads while diving for the dinner table because if they don’t make it on time, those who ARE there will eat everything on the table and those who were late would go hungry that night. Imagine that.

    14. Burr-ee-toe says:

      Look at all that curly hair! You are totally my people Egan. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping Margot is still on the table, but I’m a little disappointed that Tatonka has been ruled out. How about just Buffalo then?

    15. egan says:

      Mez – my wife and I have that same rule about kids. We don’t want to be outnumbered and definitely not more than can fit into a sedan. 10 kids for your mom’s family? That’s a lot of aunts and uncles. Yes, I spraypainted a painting to test out the color. I blamed my brother and got away with it for about 15 years. I told my mom about five years ago it was me. She was in disbelief.
      Amy – sharing is a very tough skill. Since I had to share so much as a child, I’m a tad bit selfish in my adulthood. That will change in about seven months.
      Ubie – Huck hasn’t been mentioned yet, but Ralphie has. I’m kind of curious what your take on big families is.
      Mone – I’m glad I grew up in a large family as I feel the pros far outweigh the cons. I don’t think I could ever have more than 2-3 myself though. I imagine it will be way too much work. Then there’s funding for college, which in my book is a must.
      Furiousball – I have four older brothers, want one? Oh the fighting was rather intense at times. I like to think it’s why I’m such a pacifist nowadays.
      Meno – Percival and Hepzibah? Are those books in the Old Testament? Only one of my older brothers was much of a player so there wasn’t too much to ogle.
      Curare_Z – Lipitor does have a nice ring to it doesn’t it?
      Kelwhy – Merle isn’t so great. I think it’s a wee bit old school. I can’t even imagine yelling that name out loud. “Merle, get your ass back in here and respond do your damn blog comments now!” Yah, not a good name.
      Amanda – I do agree. I think my life is much richer because of the big family experience. Sure we didn’t travel much
      Snavy – I don’t really think my parents could afford it either. That’s why I was on the reduced lunch program and had to get someone to sponsor all my sport activities. Raising a child isn’t cheap, but it’s not about the money.
      Mona – that’s a fantastic point. I had to share everything, including the bathroom. I think the only time I got to myself was when I had to poop and could lock the door to the bathroom.

    16. Chicky Pea says:

      If I had seven children I would surely be more insane than I am now. Do we really need that?

    17. egan says:

      stepping over the junk – yes, I know all too well about the food thing. I didn’t chow down food like my brothers so I was referred to as the “runt of the litter”. Runt? I’m 6’1, 190 pounds. Okay my other brothers were much bigger at an earlier age, but I’m more agile.
      Burr-ee-toe – the curly hair is a gift. I used to hate it with a passion, but I’ve learned to embrace it. Roger Federer looks good with curly hair, so can I. Margot probably won’t make the cut. Thanks for the submission.
      Chicky Pea – no, we don’t need more insane people in this world. Please don’t have more kids. Seven kids is too many.

    18. logoβ„’ says:

      My dad is #2 of 10 and my mom is #1 of 6. They had only three, of which I am the middle. My only child husband and I chose to stop at two. I had a lot of friends growing up who had quite large families, 4-8 kids. I saw alot of the pros and cons you listed.
      I also have some friends who had two, and then decided to have two more. Some friends of mine have 25, 22, 11, and 5 year old kids, but that is easier to swing if you started in your twenties.
      Although I have enjoyed my two every step of the way to 10 and 7 I really don’t want to do it anymore. Some people get to two and realize they are not done yet.
      I don’t think you have to decide yet.
      Oh, and I say
      Lipitor for a boy,
      Levitra for a girl.

    19. snavy says:

      Trust me, I know it’s not about the money.
      I wanted to try for another after the twins – money was not a factor for me. Never has been.

    20. Churlita says:

      Love the photo.
      I can totally relate to the pros and the cons. I’m actually grateful that my older siblings teased the shit out of me. i was so hyper-sensitive when I was younger, that I needed a thicker skin. And to this day, I have to remind myself to slow down when I eat.

    21. egan says:

      Logo – damn those are large families for your parents. I’m so torn on the large family thing. It’s not for me personally, but I did enjoy growing up in one. Levitra? I forgot about that one.
      Snavy – money shouldn’t be a factor, wait a minute. I think it should figure into the equation somehow. It sucked to have no money for college. Sure I got in, but I’m still paying for it ten years later.

    22. egan says:

      Churlita – I almost included thicker skin in my list of pros. Then I thought about it some more and it could go either way. Sometimes I believe in tough love too much and other times I’m a complete sap. Finding that happy medium is key. Eating fast is a hobby of mine as my French buddy Boris liked to point out.

    23. Burr-ee-toe says:

      Okay, so you’re not ruling out Buffalo?

    24. egan says:

      Buffalo – let’s see what rhymes with Buffalo. Gigolo. Alright, Buffalo is out of the running.

    25. mez says:

      nah, not my mum -one of the mums at the school (a mum of a student). πŸ˜‰

    26. egan says:

      Mez – dammit, I knew that but spaced out when typing my response. Enjoy your day at school.

    27. snavy says:

      I’m really glad Lipitor is out. I would have felt weird if you named your child after my goldfish.

    28. sprizee says:

      As an only child I always bemoaned the fact that I didn’t have any siblings to play with and proclaimed that when I grew up, if I had kids, I would have a minimum of two. Sharing is fun!

    29. egan says:

      Snavy – a high school friend of mine named his goldfish after me. It kind of freaked me out. I can swim though.
      Sprizee – yeah, I’m not a fan of an only child. I think there’s something to be said for learning you’re not the only one on this planet. But I also realize it’s not an option for everyone and there are some only children (like you and my buddy Tod) who are perfectly normal.

    30. sprizee says:

      Wait, I didn’t finish.
      That said, diapers are expensive and babies aren’t very good at pulling their own weight. You show me a baby who can bring home a paycheck, and I’ll reconsider my new stance of DINK is the new standard of awesome. Actually, all your baby talk is making me jealous. Knock it off.

    31. Jennifer says:

      Growing up, my best friend was the second youngest of a family of eight. The dad had three, the mom had three, and together, they had two, including my best friend. I was always fascinated by their life, for whatever reason, and spent as much time at their house as I could get away with trying to feel like one of them. The only negative I remember clearly? Never enough bathrooms.

    32. Kerry says:

      Thank God you’re ruling those names out! I know a girl named Tuesday…..

    33. Burr-ee-toe says:

      Shoot! Okay. You’re no fun. I’m reading Pride and Prejudice right now. How about go with the “E” theme in your family and name the baby Elizabeth?

    34. Chris says:

      I’ve always been partial to the name “Harmony” for a girl.

    35. Leezer says:

      Bravo to you for identifying all the stuff your family gave you – good and bad. I am a firm believer that all families have pros and cons – irrespective of the size of the family. For example, I grew up with one sibling, a sister with Downs Syndrome: Cons: People always staring at us; couldn’t tease her; had “survivor’s guilt” (why was I spared the disability and she got it?); lonely; didn’t know any other kids in the same situation.
      Pros: Lots of love; I’m very self-contained; I think life is pretty funny; maybe i’m more sensetive than I would have been, otherwise.
      Thanks for making me think about this stuff.

    36. egan says:

      Sprizee – clearly you don’t know how much those babies in Pampers tv ads are making. I heard one baby made $50,000 for one 30 second tv ad. Can you believe that? Good, I hope you didn’t because I just made that figure up.
      Jennifer – you’re dead on with that observation. We had 2.5 baths and I would usually sneak into my parents bathroom. But then my brother thought it was cool to eat pudding in the bathroom, thus monopolizing the porcelin.
      Kerry – somebody has to rule out those names. No months, states, days of the week, or cloud formations.
      Burr-ee-toe – bite your tongue!
      Boston Chris – I sure hope she can sing or isn’t a fiesty one.
      Leezer – thanks for sharing that aspect of your life. I’m happy to hear your positive take on a sister with Down’s. Our family generated stares, but for reasons much different than yours. I bet your family is damn tight too.

    37. L says:

      These are great observations. I never had any fun playing hide and seek. Since my parents owned a restaurant, we spent all our time outside of school there and not in our neighborhood, playing with other kids. So it was just me and my little brother. Two does not make for a rousing game of hide and seek.

    38. Phil says:

      I’m one of four kids but we’re spread out over 14 years.
      Another con of big families – having to change your brother’s nappies.
      Another pro – if bullies mess with you at school they have to take on the whole family.

    39. Slobodan has been ruled out already? I was sort of hoping you’d reclaim that, you know, like the word bitch.
      As one of two kids (my bro is 8 years older), I was always insanely jealous of big families. To the point of planning to have 7 of my own, hopefully all at once, in order to get the pesky pregnancy out of the way. I remember asking my mom how I could make that happen. To this day, she still hasn’t told me where babies come from, but I do remember a really boring explanation on the splitting of the egg or some such and what have you. Right over my head.
      My parents also wanted many children, but (probably) due to the fact that my mom had had cancer as a child, her body wasn’t in tip-top condition for The Condition. She lost five kids in early infancy.
      Related to the large family issue: And as far as being a drain on the planet, out of necessity, some of the most resourceful and thrifty folk I know have large families. I think it’s a bit of poppycock that having a bigger family is a terrible thing as larger families don’t scale out like that in my observation. The ecological footprint for each family member in a large family is probably better than the footprint of a small family. But I could go on (obviously, ha).
      I think both large and small families have their virtues. It’s always a case by case basis, isn’t it?
      Ok, so I needed to get that out regarding larger families. Thanks.

    40. Jess says:

      Egan, this was hilarious. I have been away too long! I didn’t know of this new development in your life…congratulations!!!! (You guys are expecting a baby, right? πŸ™‚
      You guys rock.

    41. CSL says:

      You ruled out Slobodon? Are you nuts?
      Okay, another con – overpopulation and dwindling resources. But I’m one of nine, and I am thankful for my sibs. I couldn’t imagine just having one child (although I know plenty of people who love having an only child), but am perfectly content with two. The get to have a sibling, but I get to stay with my commitment to zero poulation growth.

    42. Cindra says:

      I’m certainly glad that they had you. I think you will be a fine father from all that family experience of yours…and that big ol’ silly heart.

    43. Jules says:

      All you guys are making me so jealous. I always wanted siblings growing up. Now I have two girls, and they fight all the time. They don’t know how good they have it.

    44. ramblingmuse says:

      Did you consider Oprah or Prince for Baby Les Singes?
      I come from a family of 5. My mom had 8 siblings and now I’ve got 20+ cousins, and those cousins are now starting to have kids of their own. Any time I want an instant party, I just invite the family over!
      I learned from an early age that the bathroom is the only place to get privacy. To this day I love long showers and will sit on the toilet all day and read if I could.
      As an adult I look back and really appreciate the fact that I have so much family to lean on if I needed to.

    45. Eunice says:

      Being the oldest of three, I still can’t comprehend the idea of sharing my parents, DNA, or bathroom with anyone more than the two yahoos I had to. For a brief period, four of my cousins lived with us, then two, then my parents said, “thank god we didn’t stick with the 10 kid plan!”

    46. Eunice says:

      For those of you who offend easily:
      a) you shouldn’t be reading this blog
      b) I love my sibs very much.

    47. Amanda says:

      Phil makes a good PRO point. My second oldest brother and I always fought. He picked on me and made me cry all the time. But one time on the bus, this mean boy tripped me. Tony almost got in a fist fight with him.
      Good call on ruling out Tonya.

    48. Gawpo says:

      Geeze, Egan, I can’t imagine growing up in a big family. Three kids in my family of origin. Since I am the only boy, I always felt cheated because I had to have two sisters, but my sisters each had a brother and a sister. What a beautiful picture of your family. You are a great guy. That shines through.

    49. ms. sizzle says:

      Lipitor! I was rooting for that one!
      πŸ˜‰ sizz

    50. ChickyBabe says:

      I always wanted an older brother so I can meet his friends! But I got to perve on younger men instead πŸ˜‰

    51. Nessa says:

      I only have one brother (it’s his birthday today.) My father is one of 14, my mom one of 7. I always wondered what it would be like to have more siblings, but like you said, there’s good and bad.

    52. tori says:

      I thought I left a comment on this, but I don’t see it. If I already did, then just ignore this one!
      I think having siblings teaches a child how to share much easier. My kids share rooms and trade off who sleeps in which bed all the time. When I was little, it was just my brother and I, and we never slept in the same room. When I went to college and had a roommate, it was a difficult adjustment. I bet my kids will be fine with it.

    53. Cake Lady says:

      I have 1 brother and 1 sister. Growing up we were poor and I had to work in the lunchroom in order to get free lunches. Luckily I also grew up in a poor community and the children didn’t taunt me the way children are now.
      I have 2 children and that is plenty for me, however I must tell you that I have 2 very close friends (Jules and Trick). They both come from large families. Each have 6 siblings each. I have never felt so much love when I am around their families. Even when they fight, I still feel the love. Both Jules and Tricks parents are still married, although sometimes I wonder why. Bottom line is you are blessed to have had the experience of growing up in a large family. If you choose not to have 6 or 7 kids, don’t worry, your kids can find other families to have that experience with.

    54. Tinabellina says:

      As one of two, I can say that I always wanted a bigger family. My dad came from a family of six, and my mom from a family of three. I always think about how boring our family reunions will be with just me and my sister and our husbands.
      I want four kids. I think it’s a happy medium. πŸ™‚

    55. egan says:

      L – two people just don’t cut it for hide & seek. You can play Nerf ping pong with two players though or you can play indoor tackle football like I used to do with my brother.
      Phil – thankfully I never had to change my siblings nappies, but I did with one of my nephews. Good point about the bullies. There were only a couple I had to fend off. There was this prank calling mother fucker though that really got under my skin. I have a feeling that guy is behind bars these days.
      Sally – we’re on the same page here. Big families are fun and there’s a huge debate that could rage for years about the environmental impact. There are very clever ways to minimize one’s impact on the planet. Sorry to hear about your mum.
      Jess – yep, my wife is pregnant with Baby Singe. The world is already confusing and weird, expect it not to change one bit when the kid is born.
      CSL – if you have two kids is that really zero population growth? This kid environmental impact stuff is really interesting to me. Slobodan doesn’t really work that well with my last name.
      Cindra – big silly heart, are you calling me a baboon?
      Jules – the fighting seemed like a rite of passage. If anything it made me a huge pacifist in my adult years because fighting never ever solves anything.
      Ramblingmuse – the bathroom was my sanctuary. That said I was very good at picking locks to everyone’s bedroom. A skill that stays with me today.

    56. egan says:

      Eunice – the family resemblance thing can get old. I heard it over and over who I looked like, who I didn’t look like. Why can’t I just be me?
      Eunice – you rock! I love the disclaimer, love it. Thanks mamacita.
      Amanda – the fighting is true and there weren’t many enemies. I’m so thankful I don’t have a fighting bone left in my body. I will avoid fisticuffs at all costs.
      Gawpo – how sweet of you to say such nice things. Three in a family is good, but isn’t seven so much better? Kidding.
      Ms. Sizzle – Lipitor might stigmatize the child. And heck, we wouldn’t want that now would we?

    57. egan says:

      ChickyBabe – that’s my kind of thinking. You cradle robber you.
      Nessa – yikes, those are enormous families. 14 and 7? Please tell me you grew up on a farm or something. Your poor grandma must have always been pregnant. Happy birthday to your brother.
      Tori – I think you left a comment for this topic on the previous post. The sharing thing will be second nature for them. At some point, they might become greedy once they get the taste of privacy. I know I did.
      Cake Lady – your description of Trick’s family sounds identical to mine. Tons of love to go around. We also have plenty of backstabbing too, but it all evened out.
      Tinabellina – that’s a good number. If you’re “lucky” you might get all four at once, wink wink.

    58. Buggss says:

      I’m an only child but I grew up with close family friends who were,variously, one of 7,11,6,9,12 and 15 kids.Some were poor,some comfortable,others rich but they all had a good sense of humour,morals,sharing and unselfishness.
      Plus their mums rocked in the home bakery dept !

    59. Hannelie says:

      Gosh, I just caught up again with posts I have missed! Loved the diary entry post, big family post etc.
      The solution is: just have a medium family, 3-4 kids! ta daaaa says a mum of 3.
      Thinking of suggesting a name for a girl, named after your brother since you do seem to miss him heaps: Eloise!

    60. Hannelie says:

      Oh oops, wanted to say, our little man is called William but because the las 4 letters spell Liam that’s his name at home! Hubby here also liked Connor.

    61. egan says:

      Buggss – I would say our family fell in the middle of those things. We definitely weren’t wealthy, but we’re middle class until my parents got divorced. Then it just sucked. Humor is something I’ve noticed in large families. Most can laugh at each other pretty easily, you have to as it’s a form of survival.
      Hannelie – Eloise is a good name, but I’m not sure the French sounding names work with my anglo-saxon last name. 4 kids would be our max and a couple of them might be adopted. We want to adopt at least one child.
      Hannelie – Liam, now that’s a name I can get behind. I don’t think you’ll ever see it on the ‘Ruled Out’ list. Connor is good too, but one of our friend’s kids is named Connor.

    62. CSL says:

      If you have only two children with someone who only has those same two children (none with anyone else, then the two of you are only reproducing yourself – ZPG. That’s my understanding of it, anyway.

    63. Lipitor is actually a baby name?

    64. Hannelie says:

      Yeeeeaaa haaa you like the name of my boy! We thought it should match hubby’s scottish surname.
      Go google Sir William Dargie, my hubby’s second cousin, it’s also his names! he he
      We had a Triathlon in Perth on Sunday but I didn’t go to watch, was to lazy to go out all the way but I heard some bystanders over heard cyclist swearing at each other to get out of their slipstream or draft or something and how surprise she was at their aggression. You don’t do that sort of thing do you?

    65. egan says:

      CSL – huh, that’s a clever way to look at it. What about deaths in the family and that sort of thing?
      steppingoverthejunk – no, that’s kind of the joke. I’ve been throwing out prescription drug names as baby names quite a bit. Maybe you haven’t heard of many of them in Canada.
      Hannelie – ha, I know the bike thing you’re talking about. The whole bike drafing “in the slipstream” thing is a very controversial topic amongst triathletes. It’s usually not legal to do that except in the Tour de France. You’re supposed to ride 2-3 bike lengths behind the cyclist ahead of you or pass immediately.

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