Fertility issues are something that Jim Codr wouldn’t wish on anyone—not even his worst enemy. “You just sort of float along indefinitely with no end in sight. You start to question what you are, what you want, and how bad you want it.”
Emily, his wife of nearly 10 years, agrees. “There was a time when we didn’t think we would be able to have any children,” she says. “Our biggest obstacle, as a couple, [was] the difficulty of starting a family.”
But then, one day, everything turned around for the Codrs. They were blessed with a daughter, Anna. And then twins Nora and Margaret. And then a son, Edward. All of these fairly back-to-back pregnancies were surprising. “We got all sorts of raised eyebrows when we announced No. 4 was coming,” Emily adds.
What the Codrs didn’t realize was that the little blessings they had hoped for would turn out to be just as testing on their marriage as the fertility issues. “Having four children under 4 made life very stressful,” Emily says. “We had heard that multiples put a lot of stress on a marriage, but we had no idea just how little time we would have for each other, let alone ourselves.”
Each day presents a new set of obstacles for Jim and Emily. Not only do they have to ready themselves for work every morning; they also have to feed, dress, and drop off their four kids at school and daycare. It’s quite the hassle already, but it can be even more taxing when the children don’t want to cooperate. “[It] requires a great deal of organization and pre-planning the night before,” Emily says.
Fortunately, Jim and Emily, who both grew up in Omaha, have plenty of support around them to take some of the edge off of raising four young children.
“We lived in Kansas City for about five years prior to moving [back] to Omaha. I came to work for my father,” Jim says. “We came to that decision primarily because we [knew we] wanted to start having kids and thought the career move would be a better fit…Boy, I’m glad we did. The flexibility and benefits are huge.” Emily, too, has a flexible job that allows her to attend to the needs of her family when problems arise.
“We have an amazing network of people that have done nothing but help us along the way,” Emily says. “We have wonderful friends that didn’t forget about us when the days were long and hard caring for multiple babies…We often remark that life would be a whole lot more complicated for us outside of Omaha. [It’s] such a wonderful place to raise a family.”
When it comes to parenting, Jim and Emily try to stay away from the “divide and conquer” philosophy and focus more on working together. Leaving the house is a perfect example. Going anywhere with their children is one of the most hectic things they deal with on a regular basis, but they’ve gotten to the point where they have a system. “Logistically [for us], we simply need two adults minimum…It has sort of forced us to another level of parental participation,” Jim explains.
“We always wanted a big family…We may not be taking our kids on trips around the world, but at the end of the day, we tuck in four, healthy, balanced children whose parents love them and love each other.” – Emily Codr
“We don’t have roles as parents. If something needs to be done, we just do it,” Emily adds.
“I disagree with Emily about roles. She has a role—just do everything!” Jim counters with a laugh. “But seriously, she is a really terrific mom and keeps the engine going. I’d be lost without her.”
Having so many young children so fast brought the family closer together, in the Codrs’ opinion. Before they had kids, Jim and Emily had been more “carefree and freewheeling…even self-absorbed and a little immature.” Or, at least, that’s how Jim saw himself. Nevertheless, being parents has taught them many lessons.
“Being together is a priority for us,” Emily says. “We do most everything as a family, and we enjoy sharing experiences with each other. We [also] appreciate the ordinary days.”
“You learn what patience and determination really are,” Jim says. “It’s very easy to lay blame when things are going wrong, especially when they’re out of your control…You learn to stop hitting below the belt and lean on each other instead.” He adds that he admires his wife for her calm collectiveness. “I wish I had the grace under fire that she does.”
Although raising four children is quite enough to deem Jim and Emily saints in some people’s eyes, they don’t feel like they’re doing anything extraordinary. “We always wanted a big family…We may not be taking our kids on trips around the world, but at the end of the day, we tuck in four, healthy, balanced children whose parents love them and love each other,” Emily says.
Of course, the Codrs say their kids are just like other kids (in other words, they fight constantly). But in the end, they work well together and love one another.
“One of the coolest things about having several kids stacked together is that they have such an emotional attachment to each other,” adds Jim. “They always want to do things as a family. They love the weekends and nicknamed it ‘family day’…Their sibling relationships are just as important as the child-parent relationships. We try to stress that.”
“From what we have been told, parenting doesn’t get any easier as the kids get older, but we are sharpening our teamwork skills every day, and life must be getting easier because we cannot imagine how we did it,” Emily says.
“Oh yeah,” Jim adds. “It never ends. But that’s part of the fun, right? You get better. The kids get better. We’re all learning how to cope with one another.”