Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, April 11, 2009

There, I've said it....

Over the years, the idea that one should not have more children than one can handle or one can afford, or really just more than one or two in general, has been thrown at me - sometimes very gently, sometimes very rudely, sometimes just in one of those obvious 'I'm grinning-but-behind-it-I-am-thinking-you-are-a-crazy-lunatic' sort of ways... I've had people who I don't even know ask me how many children I'm going to have after they find out I already have my "quota" of two. But it's not one of those curious questions just being asked out of curiosity (which is fine with me), but more like 'I have my own judgment about you and the idea already, and I'm just seeing if I'm right...' It's kind of annoying to me in a way because A)It's no body's business but mine and my husband's and B)It's just rude, no matter who you are, to ask such a personal question in such a condescending manner.

A while ago, someone at a party asked me (upon my telling her I was pregnant with my third), "how many kids DO you want ANYWAY? Major emphasis on the words 'do' and 'anyway.' And this was first preceded by eye rolling and one of those "you really are crazy" looks. Even people within our family have made comments and said things that really were out of line and just downright annoying. Most of the people who I come in contact with have some negative thought on the subject and I am unsure as to where exactly it comes from. Is it taught to them by their parents? Is it society's general view that a family should be made up of 4 people - 2 adults and 2 children (preferably a girl and a boy), filtering into people's minds without their knowledge? I mean, if you think about it, most vacation packages for families only include 2 adults and 2 children in the price.

I never planned on having a big family. When I was younger, I didn't even think in terms of numbers, just that I wanted some kids. I grew up in a family of 7 children and though there are many benefits to having such a large family, I am not sure I ever thought I'd have more than just a few. But this afternoon, as I was sitting at the dining room table, watching my 3 children eat snack, I imagined what it'll be like to have the 4th one - who is due in just a few months - sitting at the table with us. Four children is more than "just a few," especially by today's standards.

After I had my second child, I was unsure about having any more. And even after I had my third, a lot of difficulties I was experiencing brought that uncertainty to the forefront of my mind once again. But just like clock-work, I was pregnant again by the time my baby was 10 months old. The subject for me had kind of just been up in the air. My husband wasn't very positive about the idea of having more then the 3 we had, and we talked a lot about my health issues, his fears, my fears and what we could handle. And really, when it came down to it, nothing was as important as giving the whole thing to God and letting Him have the reigns. We had *sort of* done this already, but I don't think Joe was truly on board with the idea - mainly because he was just so fearful of so many things surrounding it.

I have gone back and forth over this within my own mind and heart over the past year or two. I am very overwhelmed at times, especially since the 3 that I have are age 4 and under and the days are often more than exhausting! I think back to a time when I couldn't really imagine myself being a good mother at all, let alone having more than 1 to care for. But then I look at how well I have adjusted to a different way of thinking, how I am finding things to be not as hard as I had anticipated, and how much meaning each of my children adds to my life. And, even though I fail in some areas, I believe I'm doing a pretty decent job of raising my children and I'm always open to becoming better, to changing and growing and learning for their sake. I also think about the fact that even my husband has come to a place where *more* is not scary to him, without my even really saying much.

We both want what God wants for our lives. We aren't going to be bullied by negative comments from other people, especially people who don't even know what it's like to give their lives to God. And this doesn't mean we're idiots or that we don't know what we're doing. And it doesn't mean we can't plan within the boundaries He has set for us. After our 4th child is born, I need to focus on the health issues I've been experiencing and get all that under control before we think about having a 5th. But the thing is that if God wants us to have a 5th, or even a 6th, if I'm okay and my husband and I are both on the same page, there is no reason not to. There, I've said it - I WILL have more children if I am healthy and God wants me to!

*Oh, and as a side note, my favorite people to get negative comments from are those who have never had children, have only had 1, don't know Jesus, or are so self-absorbed that the idea of having children and parenting them in a decent manner is beyond their comprehension. They're my favorite because it gives me more of a reason to pray for them!*


Anonymous said...

I HEARD that!! You go girl! I must say I definately fall on that "are you crazy" side at times. I think part of it for me is because I know it is sooooooo much work!! And that is an understatement! Besides the family that lived across from my grandma's house (they had at least10 children and their names all started with T) the Ten Eyck clan was the largest family I had ever known! I must say I always remember having fun at the Ten Eyck house. There was ALWAYS something exciting going on. But when I see large families I still gasp...mostly out of the realization of all the work. I am lazy by nature and hope to one day be lazy again! Mothering a large family is not for the weak! I truly respect all the women who dedicate their lives to their family!! Another comment I hear is something along the lines of hurrying up and getting the children out of the house so you can have your life back! Can you believe that!?!?! I would hate to rush through these times and just wish them away! Not only becuase I would feel totally selfish...but these are the times we will look back on fondly when we are older. Children are truly blessings! And I am not in the place where I can say "keep 'em coming, Lord" but I am in the place where I know that if he does that he will also provide me with all I NEED to care for them. I've said it too...kinda!

Anonymous said...

The Anonymous above is me...Amy