Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not in the club anymore...

I am the eldest of five children. My parents home schooled me from Kindergarten through high school and part of college. Two of my best friends are number four and five out of seven home schooled kids. That was a pretty average size family among our circle of friends. One Herculean mother had fifteen and still counting, last time I checked. Her oldest is my brother's age and her youngest is recently out of diapers. They home school, too. This could be us:



I grew up reciting Psalm 127:3, right along side John 3:16 and the Ten Commandments. From the time I first knew to talk about it, I always said I wanted to have an even dozen kids. I modified that in adulthood to being satisfied with four. Two of each, please. I imagined how it would be... the happy chaos, the laughter, the family adventures, instant community--just add water and stir... I was full of careless arrogance towards women who had small families, assuming selfishness or mis-placed priorities on their part. It was Us and Them, and I was glad to be in the Us Club.

Fast-forward 20-odd years and I'm having this conversation with a woman visiting our church:

Her: Oh we're just visiting this morning. We've been member at HBC for a long time, but things are changing there...doctrinal stuff... and there just aren't many large families any more... I have five boys... we home school...


(me; thinking "oh great! A kindred soul! let's get to know each other)

Her: And your kids....?

me: This is Judah, and Sofi's away over there somewhere...

Her: Just the two?

*pause*

(me; awkwardly realizing that I'm one of those "not many large families anymore" from her old church)

*sound of heart breaking*

Me: mumble, mumble, mumble, fade away....


There's just no way to bring up in casual conversation that I consider myself the mother of three, arguably four, that I love children, that the Lord just had a different plan for our lives than we did, that I would gladly welcome her beautifully rowdy family of young men into my home any time. That I'm not One of Them, despite my regulation two children, one of each, conveniently spaced so as not to have two in diapers at the same time. I'm One of Us. Just... different.


14 comments:

Dawn Farias said...

((hugs))

ViolinMama said...

Moments like this hurt my spirit too. We mothers can be so judgmental without knowing....especially in the Catholic faith. The idea that # of kids is more of a status of how faithful you are....it can hurt.

I have a friend who, with her husband, does NFP, to achieve, in God's timing. They have 2 daughters, 8 and 6. By all appearances, they are the "two kid" family. What most people don't know is their 3rd daughter was still born at 23 weeks, and she's had 6 miscarriages (1 before one daughter, one after). They would LOVE a large family, and even adopt. And, they still remain open to more pregnancies, despite the pain.

They are friends with several large families, and one time - after sharing her story - one of the moms said she always assumed my friend and her husband just "talked the talk" not walk the walk, on NFP, etc. It broke her heart. It does mine too.

God does have a plan for each of us, and none of us should point out the speck in their brother's while ignoring the plank in their own, even within the privacy of our hearts.

I know God has blessed you!!

I'm so sorry. Many hugs!

Jenny said...

Ahhh...I know the feeling. I don't know that I ever "wanted" a huge family, but I definitely never didn't want it! Sometimes circumstances both physical and otherwise have long-term effects that we don't even realize at the time. Don't feel the need to defend yourself. You are a fabulous mom to the kids that God has graced you with. Be assured and comforted in that. And when you come up "against" this situation, just be honest -- God has seen fit to give you 2 wonderful, healthy children so far and you're open to however many he wants to give you. He is the author and Creator of life...and you just can't argue with that. I met a lady this week that has 9 kids and she was a homeschooler, too (I hope to get to know her better as she just lives down the road from us!). She was a gracious mom and woman. I felt no judgement there - but maybe that's because I added the "just yet" to the end of "I just have the one":) letting it be known that I'd really like more. In God's timing and will:)

Laura said...

How awful. Thanks for sharing this story -- it must have been painful, but it is a priceless reminder to your brothers and sisters not to forget that everyone's "quiver" is sized by God, not us.

How tragic that we who love and welcome children immediately assume that anyone with fewer than five or six is denying God's sovereignty over their fertility. Sigh.

Herb of Grace said...

You guys are great. I really appreciate the encouragements, and the hugs :)

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Awww sweet woman, that can be hurtful! Hopefully, hopefully it wasn't the insinuation that it sounds like. Hopefully. :(

Niecey said...

Aw, that's difficult. I know. I always feel like I have a larger family than I do. Probably because I've had 6 pregnancies, and given birth 5 times, but have only 4 kids.

But yeah, the mentality is the same. It can be hard to be judged as one thing by outward first impression when on the inside you're really something completely different.

Denise said...

Lisi, I think you know that, coming from a large family myself, I grew up similar to you. I assumed those with fewer children just didn't want "God's number" for their family. How prideful and foolish I was!

I too often said I'd like "more than 8".

Funny how in a few short years our minds go from thinking, "At least this many..." to our hearts crying out, "Just one, Lord.... One will be more than I deserve."

I pray a lot for those with infertility, because it's a quiet, alienating struggle. I look around in church and Target and Starbucks and wonder at the women who are seeing me play with and kiss my baby and their heart is breaking. I wish there were a way to reach out to them and tell them I've walked their painful road... That there can be hope and joy again.

Thank you for the reminder, to all of us, to be gentle and kind in what we think and assume of others. That especially in the Body of Christ, we should love openly without preconceived notions.

Side Note: I've even seen here, with two of my now close friends who each "only" had two children, that one's organs started to fail the last part of the pregnancy and the other needed a hysterectomy post-birth for a prolapsed uterus. So many things we never know what everyone else's story is...

OWL MOMMA said...

I stumbled over here from Dawn's blog. This post really touched my heart, and I hope you are able to find peace with things the way are. HUGS!

septembermom said...

No matter how many children you have, always remember that God loves and celebrates your unique and individual relationship with each child. God is love. Your family is love. One or twenty, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you take care of His little ones.

Hosanna said...

I feel you, Lis. As you know, I am dealing with infertility issues. We cannot afford all those expensive treatments and procedures. Our only hope for ever having a family lie in adoption. And even then, we'll only be able to afford it once..... twice, if we're lucky. I know I'll never be in that big, homeschooling family club, ever. Sometimes I think it might be a blessing, as I would never want to be in a club one of those Moms who only wants to socialize and fellowship with other Moms who have passed the two-or three kids mark.
We've only been married a year and a half and I already get the questioning looks .......

Anna Banana said...

I read this several days ago, Elisa, and it's still sticking with me. Hugs and comfort to you. I actually have never wanted a huge family - I knew two would be probably more than I personally could handle. But I know the pain of losing a daughter at 21 weeks (people say it was a miscarriage, but she was born naturally and lived for 3 hours - no miscarriage to me!), and have such empathy for people who go through losses, whether of babies or dreams of babies. May God grant you peace.

Rebecca said...

I have to admit that this post is still kind of bothering me, long after I read it. I never knew that there are people who think judgmentally towards those who have smaller families. I guess that hits a little close to home because even though I haven't even entered that phase of life yet, in all practicality due to age I'm not going to be having more 2 or 3 kids. I never dreamed that there might one day be people who look at me with my less than large family and label me selfish or out of God's will. There are so many reasons why a woman may have fewer children - as you yourself are finding out. I wouldn't wish this heartache on you, but I do hope that others can also learn to stop looking at others with this 'club' mentality.

Olivia said...

Coming very late to this post, but I want to tell Rebecca I'm surprised by that small families are sometimes judged. In my circle, large families are the ones who are often judged. This post is a reminder to me to be mindful about not judging others' choices.