Monday, May 30, 2011

What You Hear a Lot When You're the Mom in a "Big Family"

Several times I have sat down to write an entry about how much I love my big family and of all the good it does for me to be the mother of a large brood, and I have saved the drafts but not published because I get concerned about how it sounds. I don't anyone to be offended by what I write. Here is an article I read this week from a fellow blogger that covers some of the comments people make concerning large families. I enjoyed the comments people left but kept getting kicked off every time I tried to leave one, so Cheryl (the author of the other blog), I hope you can see my thoughts here!

My husband and I had our four children in just less than a five year span. We didn't plan it that way, though we did always say, even when we were dating, that we wanted four children. While other girls dreamed of having "the perfect" one boy, one girl family scenario, I dreamed of two boys and two girls. God has thus far given me three girls and one boy, and I love it! My response to "Is this the last one?" is "I dunno." Some people who ask this question believe me to be crazy. Others, particularly those who are younger with fewer children, I think are asking in awe, wondering how I do it (the guidance of the Holy Spirit), and possibly dreaming of having a big family themselves. I take no offense from these younger women. I am thankful to have known other women who mothered four or five children myself, and that those women showed me how to do it well. Maybe I can do the same.

As far as the comment, "You sure have your hands full," goes...I don't think it relates to behavior at all. Strangers often say this to me within minutes of seeing me with my children. Let's face it - it is an oddity today to see a woman push a stroller with two children in it and two more holding onto the sides, being generally obedient and content at that. My husband and I typically respond to this comment with, "The Bible tells us that children are an heritage from the Lord, so we sure are blessed."

We get the "You finally got a boy," a lot! It's true. We did pray very earnestly, in fact my husband fasted, that God might give us a son. I have no shame that I desired to pass on the family name and that our family might have a savior should anything ever happen to my husband. Nothing has changed since biblical times that a firstborn son should care for his family. That said, we would have rejoiced in the birth of a daughter, another woman I could train to be a life-giver and nurturer. Both sexes bring their own unique joys and challenges. We didn't "try" for any baby except the first, which is what I think most strangers think when they make the "you finally..." comment. Having all of one sex, boy or girl, isn't a reason to stop having children, by the way.

"Don't have more than you can raise for the Lord." Do what? My children learn a number of godly characteristics because they are each one of many. They have to learn to die to self (completely necessary for the Christian life), to look out of for the interests of others, and patience in ways that singletons do not experience.

Finally, as to the question, "Don't you know what causes it?"...Yep. We do. In the book Table for Eight, the author recommends the response, "I do, and I must be getting a lot more of it than you!" I'd NEVER say that to anyone, but I have to admit that I think it's funny. My experience is that baby-making sex is the best! It makes sense because God created women's libidos to kick into gear when they ovulate. I'm just sayin' is all! :)

Whatever the number of children other couples have, we need to be careful to not judge. Be sensible, y'all. We don't know others' life situations that led to the number of children they have or don't have. For some, one or two are great miracles. If it was difficult for a couple to conceive two, it is understandable that they may not want to put themselves through the strain of "trying" again. If a couple has ten, we need to not think they're being irresponsible and aren't aware of how they can put a stop to more babies. Godly people with lots of children are usually making more disciples in their own homes than most Christians do in or out of their homes. The way I see it, we are more likely able to train and raise disciples through childrearing than through any other means (thus my willingness to have a large family), and often the only reasons we have for not having more children come from the flesh, so we need to always be careful to examine our motives if we decide to stop.



Mindy Dumont said...

Great post! Even though we only have 3 (2 boys and a girl), I've gotten a few of those comments. It seems once you go past 2, people think you're weird! I'm going to start using the response you give when people say you've got your hands full. That's the one I get most often. Usually people say it with a smile, and I they don't mean anything negative. I've noticed that especially older people stop us all the time to comment on how well-behaved the kids are. Even when they say something about me being busy, I just laugh and agree. I have one friend that had 4 girls before having a boy. People would stop her all the time and say something about how she must be glad to finally have a boy. She'd look at them straight in the eye and say "Yes, we were so disappointed with all our girls." Of course this was sarcasm, but it got the point across!

Stephanie said...

Awesome!! I would be a millionaire if I counted how many times I heard "You've got your hands full," "Finally! A girl!" or "Are they all yours??" I prayed for 3 boys and a girl and I'm happy that my prayers have been answered. I can't imagine my life any other way. :)

Anonymous said...

I am struggling with an issue that relates somewhat to this post. I have 3 boys: 5, 3, and 9 months. I am very blessed and happy with my boys but I would be lieing if I said I didnt want a girl. I find myself tearing up everytime I think about it. I sometimes blame it on myself thinking that maybe God doesnt think I would or am a "Godly' enough mother to raise a girl because I know the responsiblities that comes with mothers raising Godly young women. I hate to admit these feelings I have because I know what some people think when I say this "you should be lucky you have 3 healthy children" AND I TOTALLY AM! I know what great blessings God has given me with 3 boys. I try to reject these feelings of not having a girl but honestly deep down I feel that I am missing a part of me. I know this probably makes no sense and I was hesitant to post this but I figured that I could be open because no one reading this knows who I am and that for once is a good thing. Thank you for this post and your blog. God bless you and your ministry!

Lauren said...

Thanks so much, Jen! I don't think the desire to have a girl is a negative thing at all. As long as you have contentment with your boys, a longing for a girl might be for a reason. Maybe God will give you a girl in due time through natural circumstances or possibly through adoption. There are so many baby girls in China who will most likely face a future of prostitution if not adopted by a loving family. And believe me, I'm not the woman you might vision as being the right kind to raise three girls. I don't know how to sew and I'm a mediocre cook (though I try!). I'm a work in progress for sure!