I’m not collecting children anymore

For me, the whole Quiverfull mentality ended up being little more than a child collecting contest. Now, any truly Quiverfull woman will deny this. “It’s not about how many children you have or don’t have,” she would say. “It’s about being open to every blessing God sends your way, be that only a few or a dozen or more.” But it’s all there in the language, if you really listen.

“God has blessed me with seven lovely children.”

“God only saw fit to bless me with four.”

“We’re hoping God will bless us with a few more.”

The reality is that when you are told over and over that every child is a blessing from God, it’s not hard to begin to tie just how blessed you are to how many children you have.

I attended homeschool conventions where they gave prizes to the women with the most children. I had friendships thrown in jeopardy when my mom kept having children when other moms didn’t. I saw that Quiverfull publications continually trumpeted the families with the largest number of children.

More children = more blessed. More children = more godly. More children = more praised. Is it any wonder that I experienced it all as a child collecting contest?

When I planned to have a dozen or more children, I saw my future children as numbers rather than individuals. When my daughter Sally was born I saw her as #1, the first in a long line of stair-stepped children. By the time I became pregnant with Bobby, though, I had completely rejected the Quiverfull mentality. I no longer see my children as numbers. I no longer see them as little trophies to be lined up across the hall and admired, or to trail after me in church or at a homeschool convention to prove just how blessed I am.

Perhaps when you were a child you knew a girl who prided herself on the number of dolls she had, all lined up in their pretty dresses on her shelf, carefully collected and set in place. Perhaps you also knew a girl with only one or two dolls, dolls she played with every day, dolls who got dirty only to be lovingly cleaned and then held tight. The first girl’s dolls are dainty and pretty, something to be held up and admired. The second girl’s dolls may not fit some perfect ideal, but they have character and individual personality – and they don’t exist to bring her praise or improve her reputation.

Growing up, I planned to be that first girl. Today, I’m the second. I’m not collecting children anymore.

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