Eight is enough — or is it?

May 15, 2017 - 18 views

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Hamish MacLean caught up with an Oamaru woman who knows better than most what it means to be a mum.

Mother's Day is not a big deal around the Bungard household, but that has not stopped Weston mother-of-eight Olivia Bungard from dreaming.

"I would love to be pampered on Mother’s Day, just for the record," she said.

"I would love for my children not to squabble for the whole day, the house to be tidy and maybe dinner or lunch out — with or without the children."

Having eight children was never her  plan when she was younger and  life could be chaotic at times, but  "it’s a bit late not to like it".

"I’m not a girl that grew up thinking I want to have lots of children," she said.

"I was quite ‘anti’ actually; I was quite anti-family. I don’t know what happened — something changed, obviously."

She met her future husband, Aaron, when she was 19 and moved from Nelson.

When she moved south, the family living in her mother’s rental property in North Otago  had eight children.

"I remember thinking ‘those guys are nuts’," she said.

"Anyone that could have eight children."

Once she got to know the family  the mother pointed out  they did not have all their children at once.

"People would say ‘how can you cope with eight children?’ But we didn’t have eight babies ever," Mrs Bungard said.

"They’re not all babies at the same time. They are all at different stages."

She knew  some people viewed having such a large family as a political statement, but she called it a personal choice. And she would not answer whether more children were likely. It was a question she had been asked since she had her second child.

She is the proud mum of Keidah, Ahnique,  Tyeisha,  Lakiea,  Tariq,  Priyah,  Xavier  and baby Emmett.

And having had the experience, she had some advice for young mothers, or would-be mums.

"People give you a lot of advice, and you don’t need to take all of it," she said.

In the 16 years between Keidah and Emmett the "parenting trends", or advice given to mothers, had changed dramatically.

"It’s very easy to get caught up and think ‘that’s the right way to do it’. And you look back and the trend when I had my first baby to this baby is so different. And people take it as gospel and really it’s just a trend. Especially with access to information online, you can get so confused," she said.

"Especially for young mums, sometimes there’s too much information."

But beyond the confusion, when trying to be as good a mum as possible, there was loneliness. She used visited friends to help ease her own loneliness.

"I used to be a visitor — when I had one or two children. I used to visit people all the time. I just liked to get out of the house," she said.

"And now it can be quite difficult to visit people. 

"I invite people around.

"People like visits from people with a couple of kids. Not so much with eight kids."

Her own mother was hospitable, adaptable and "an amazing homemaker".

"But you know, my mum, even my mum, she mentioned to me that she doesn’t feel like she’s a very good grandmother because she doesn’t sit down and do crafts with the kids, because that’s what her mother did.

"And that’s really funny, because that doesn’t make a good grandmother.

"She takes us horse riding; she takes us bike riding.

"Just be yourself in your mothering and your grandmothering. You don’t need to fit into someone else’s ideals."


Credit: Otago Daily Times

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