I was buying groceries yesterday, when the young cashier inquired as to the number of bananas we were purchasing.
I told her we had ten kids and we go through bananas pretty quickly. To which she did a double-take and practically glared at me, “What did you just say?”
Yep, ten kids (I didn’t even bother pointing out my huge belly buried under my winter coat). After confirming that they were all ours, she continued her inquisition, “No offence, but why would you want ten kids?” Her tone made her position on the matter clear.
“We just love them; each one is so unique and interesting… we grow so much by knowing them and learning from them. They really make life so fun,” I explained as I proceeded to pack my groceries.
As the people around us started to listen in, my natural self was feeling ready to shrink under an invisible shell, but for some reason, I continued, “We sometimes joke that we’re basically a party on wheels, wherever we are, we’re having fun together… Life stays really exciting when you’ve got a team of people who love each other and are committed to living life joyfully together!”
The cadence of our conversation began to shift as we cheerfully bantered back and forth.
She was taking in my words, very genuinely, and finally reflected back, “Wow, I never considered that having kids could be fun like that. It’s sounds like such an exciting adventure… I’d like to have a family like that.”
Regardless of the number, the little ones that comprise our family are an opportunity we “get to” experience; they are a gift. Yet, many are hard-pressed to believe that children are a reward and a very good thing, though they will give lip service to the idea. Many view children as a sort-of mixed bag: there’s some good things about having kids, of course, but don’t overdo it. Quite frankly, this is what I too believed for much of my life!
As a mother whose heart slowly grew open to more children, I used to feel somewhat wounded when some stranger in public would judgementally look at me like a total moron for having an armload of them. I used to want to zing back at them with some clever, shut-you-up-and-shame-you-too comment (which I never actually did, though I’d ruminate about it for ages – very productive).
However, I am increasingly seeing the lack of vision for children that many folk have comes from a place of genuine not-knowing – propped up by a culture (and even at times a church) that is so very often verbally and practically unsupportive of family and home life. I believe that many genuinely do not know the treasure that is available to them through the magnificent gift of children.
So, why do we have so many?
Well, it’s not a race to some magic number so that we can win the large family olympics; there’s nothing prescriptive in God’s Kingdom about family size!
We have so many children because God gives them.
That is all.
And because His gifts are good and perfect, we have opened our arms in expectation: Life is a gift!
Who might He give us next? What experience of Himself will He invite us into with this new life? How will this child change me? How will this new life change the world? How will I get to be a part of that? Who could possibly come next in this tapestry of love that God is knitting through our passion?
How will this life change EVERYTHING? This is the mystery we, as mothers, are invited into.