Years ago when I was starting in a new Bible study class, I remember being introduced to a woman and was told “She has a huge family-like 5 kids!” I only had three children then. I agreed- her crew was big. But by then, I already had in my heart the desire for more children, and I was already reading blogs like: Large Family Logistics. And I occasionally caught a Dugger’s episode if I was out of town in a hotel that gets the cable channels.
Well, several years later and we eagerly anticipate baby number 6. My husband and I are excited at the idea of our newest addition. Part of the reason for this excitement is that in our minds, large families have become common. Many homeschool families are big- some more than double our current size. The days of 12 and 15 passenger vans frequenting our homes made it not -so- shocking when we bought our own this month. But in the normal public world, I realize our family seems big. And the fact that we are ALSO expecting our first GRANDBABY this year makes it seem even more strange.
But what God has shown us through this journey is that “large family” is a state of mind. I though 4 kids was a lot. I thought 5 was a lot. But the idea of adding number 6? Well, it just seems natural. Each child of ours has come with a unique set of things to watch, learn, love and enjoy. All are unique, but one thing remains constant- Children are a blessing from the Lord. Each one comes with his or her own set of blessings, and we are thoroughly enjoying them.
There are days that are difficult. There are days we have spent our bedtime talk-time crying or praying or discussing problems, issues, and concerns. Being a parent is not for wimps! But- it does not take a supermom to raise a crew- it just takes lots of willingness to bend, to learn, to serve, and to love. Daily walking with the Lord has become a constant necessity because I sin a lot. That leads to lots of repenting. I am also growing a lot. Things that seemed near impossible to me just a few years ago now come quite naturally. And, as I get a little older, I am finding it takes a little more effort to get to the end of the day -being pregnant certainly takes the wind out of your sails.
I have also given up high heels and quiet dinners (except for our weekly date nights). I quit buying suits ten years ago, and I avoid things that require ironing. I know this is not true of ALL moms of large families- but it has certainly been some of the things I have done to cope. I make more things from scratch and I have learned to answer all the questions about my choices about our family size (even the blatantly rude questions) with grace. Not everyone has to approve or understand how we view children.
Now I am constantly being asked: Will this be your last one? How old are you anyway? Won’t it be odd to have a grandchild and child the same age? How can you afford such a large family? Well, here are my answers: We don’t know. 41. Yes, but fun. We afford them the same way we always have: one day at a time. We try to pay cash for everything as we go, and when unexpected expenses occur we get creative, we get to work, and we dig in a little deeper. The Lord has provided us more than we could expect or imagine in ways we never could have guessed more than 21 years ago when we starting our parenting journey.
And who says we have a large family? I still feel a little sheepish when I go to the Moms of Many meeting and have one of the smallest families represented there. A family with 13 children or 19 children or even 8 or 10 children make us feel small.
Now, for my answers to those folks who ask me why I have so many children: