This article about family size has been getting a lot of comments and has appeared in my inbox from several sources. I have to admit that I haven’t even read the entire thing, nor any of the comments, because I had a sense that it would hit a raw nerve with some people.
I have been thinking and praying a lot about the subject of family size, though, because I am at a new volunteer position where a lot of women are learning that I have six children and responding with an interesting combination of shock and awe. Most of the comments I get in this particular (pro-family) environment are positive, in a way, people have asked me where I hide my halo, why I look so calm and well rested, and of course I have heard the comment which begins the NC Register article, I have such a hard time with just 1 (or 2, 3, even 4)!
I agree with Simcha Fisher, in a lot of ways my life is easier now, with six children, than it was when I was the 23 year old, newlywed, mother of just 1. I have learned how to parent, and my husband and I have a stronger relationship, so that makes things easier. I don’t have a nursing baby at the moment, and that makes things way easier. All of my children are potty trained and they mostly sleep through the night. I have a system for laundry that I didn’t have then, and a little bit of household help so I can get out from time to time, and more friends who are mothers.
However, most of these things would be true, 10 years later, whether or not I had 5 children in between, and while I am extremely satisfied with my life, I have no doubt that it would be much easier if I only had one 10 year old, or even just the 10 and 9 year olds. I would have less laundry, they would be in school all day, I could afford a vacation to take my family on an airplane and a trip to the grocery store would only require one cart. I will join the mothers of 1,2, and 3 and say that even with 6, I don’t know how a mother of 9 does it. I pray that I get the chance to find out!
The reason that we were created, stated very simply in the Baltimore Catechism, is to know, love and serve God in this life and live with Him in the next. Our goal is not to find the easiest way to get through life. What a sad, lazy goal that would be.
We don’t need to try to convince the secular world that having a large family is easy, because it’s not true, but a better argument is that easy isn’t the goal. We need to work hard to convince young women and men of the next generation that life is worth the struggle. A life that is hard doesn’t have to be miserable. It is the struggle to do what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, cheerfully and with a generous spirit. This struggle is present for all Christians, regardless of family size or vocation, and it is in this struggle that we are sanctified.