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8 Children, No “Me” Time For 30 Years — Do I Regret Having Kids?

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
my 8 babies

I recently read an article from a woman who claims she would regret having children for all the fun she would have to give up. That gave me pause to reflect.

I do not regret motherhood

I have made many mistakes in my life, but one thing I do not regret is having 8 children.

Sure, I spent a good 30 years of my life with no “me” time. My children occupied all my waking hours and some nighttime hours as well.

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The amazing magic of love meant that my concern for my children and their welfare overruled any personal desires. I gave up my own wants and wishes and dedicated myself fully to my kids.

Any thoughts of independence and freedom were far from my mind. My children had defined my life’s purpose.

It wasn’t all roses

Raising babies and little children is the easy part. Their days are full of happy giggles, problems that are easy to solve, and the simple joys of learning.

Teens are a different story altogether.

I look back at photos of myself from my late 40s and early 50s and see that I had more gray hair then than I do now at age 65. Those were stressful years.

I had difficult teenagers in the house. I was teaching classes until late in the evenings and getting up early to pack lunches before driving the older kids over 10 km to each of their schools. Rules dictated that the younger children walk to school.

One son would rant to me on the entire morning drive about how I had ruined his life by raising him in Japan. One daughter would feign illness and not budge from her bed, having lost all interest in school.

Somedays all I wanted was to run away. But I couldn’t. Those kids were my responsibility. I had to persevere.

At least I didn’t have to deal with drug problems. Japan’s no-tolerance laws made that issue nonexistent where we lived.

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English Education

As I was raising my children in Japan, my role as a mother expanded to include providing them with a good English education.

In later years, I came across this nugget in a book by PD James that accurately expressed my feelings towards the importance of my children’s English education.

"You are going to learn to write your own language simply, accurately, and with some elegance, and to speak it so that you aren’t disadvantaged the moment you open your mouth."

That was precisely my goal.

I am happy to say that my children grew into adults who express themselves with elegance and wit.

No extra money

Living on the tight budget that raising 8 children necessitated provided opportunities for creativity.

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I had no time or money to travel and take vacations. Instead, my family enjoyed the challenge of saving up our yen each year to take a camping trip in the summer. I know all the parks in our prefecture better than most locals.

Our big “expensive” outing of the year was to watch a movie and eat yakiniku in a restaurant during the Christmas holidays. Eating in a restaurant was a rare treat. To be able to do this, we saved any extra bits of income throughout the year in a special envelope.

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I never bought junk food snacks. If it wasn’t nutritious, I considered it a waste of money. Instead, I shopped at the wholesale market and bought crates of apples and bananas. Those were our snacks.

We drank water, mugicha (barley tea), and powdered whole milk. No soda — with its negative nutritional value — and juice only on special occasions.

Along with 25-kilo bags of powdered milk, I bought flour and other baking goods from a bakery wholesaler and baked bread, made granola bars, and made cakes for our frequent birthdays. We splurged on ice cream for birthdays, too.

Flea markets were a great boon to us, for both selling unneeded items and buying clothes for my children. I could barter and bargain like a pro.

Did my children suffer from being raised in relative poverty? I think not. Rather, I feel it gave them a healthy respect and appreciation for money, and for the finer things in life that they can now all well afford.

They also have a depth of understanding and compassion for those less fortunate than themselves that they may have missed out on had they been raised in wealth.

And as a bonus, today they continue in the healthy eating habits they gained as children. They are all accomplished cooks and eat remarkably healthy diets. Junk food is not found in their houses.

Immeasurable happiness

Raising 8 children brought countless joys mixed with heartaches, worries, sleepless nights, diapers to change, rooms to clean, meals to make, endless loads of laundry, and untold questions to answer.

Yet, all that work was well worth it for the love, laughter, and delight we shared in the daily wonders and accomplishments of life.

Today, in my old age, I have the pleasure, the joy, and the satisfaction of seeing happy, successful, and honest adults who enjoy the lives they were given and who are — and will always be — my best friends.

I have experienced a depth of life that I would not have had without my children. I have known love and hardship. Pain and pleasure.

When I lay on my deathbed, what will I look back on to make me grateful for my life? What really gave my life value?

My children, without a doubt.

RELATED: I Regret Having My Child Because I Miss The Life I Could Have Had

Diane Neill Tincher writes about travel. She's lived in Japan since 1987 and loves learning, history, and the beauty of nature. Subscribe to her on Medium. 

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.