We had one of many “big family” exchanges on the playground today. A man and his children were playing and he gestured to my youngest three, all playing, and asked, “I assume this (baby) is your fourth?” “Actually,” I replied, “I also have another who is in tae-kwon-do class at the moment.” “Five?” he questioned, smiled, and shook his head. “Yes, soon to be five,” I proudly agreed, “and they are the best of friends.”
This type of exchange is pretty common in our world and I’ve begun to expect it. We are an anomaly, of sorts. A couple in their early thirties, married for ten years, with five kids? Total shocker. I’ve had grandmas stop me in my tracks to share about their 7 children (which I love). I’ve had many, many comments about my hands being full (to which I reply that so are our hearts!) I’ve also had the rare, unsettling remark about “knowing how that happens” to which I smile, press on, and pray fervently so that I don’t allow Satan in…
But the more looks I get; the more questions I am asked; the more blank stares I receive… the more joyful I become. “Actually… this is my fifth” becomes my joyful banner. (Perhaps a potential t-shirt idea for BC? Ha! ;))
No doubt we have rough days. I have whiny children… a lot. There are plenty of moments when I feel like the whirlwind of my life will never slow down. But then I look down and see brothers so engrossed in conversation they can barely hear me. I catch the goodbye hug of an older brother to his little sister before a day at school and I watch her wave until he is out of sight. I hear the laughter of children playing in unison and enjoying each other’s company on a sunny afternoon.
This is when having more children makes perfect, complete sense to me.
I have not spread thin my affection, I have only multiplied the love in our home. I have increased the number of hugs. I have given them natural allies in the world. I have given them the gift of siblings.
A few years ago a good friend of mine was very sick while pregnant with her second child, due less than 16 months from her first. “Doctor,” she worried openly one day, “I feel like my daughter is suffering because I am not able to be the kind of mother I want to be to her right now. I’m sick all the time, tired. She is suffering because of my pregnancy.” The good (also Catholic) doc responded with love and kindness, “But you are giving her a most precious gift–the gift of a sibling–one of the greatest gifts you could ever give her.”
I couldn’t agree more. If I can rise above the commentary, the fatigue, the whirlwind… I find absolute goodness. And there I find God.