We were talking as a family on Sunday, trying to figure out room arrangements, as our older children had come up with some good ideas of how we could mix and match the bunk beds, to help not only with space management but also with sibling relationships, and we had a realization: the things that are good for us are often not what comes naturally, or feels good. We decided that even after flipping the house upside down and shaking it, we all wouldn’t be perfectly happy. We had to be frank with the children who wanted their own room: not in this lifetime, and probably not when your older, either…sorry…but then maybe that’s GOOD FOR YOU. Ok, so your sister rubs you the wrong way, does that mean it isn’t a good idea to learn to work with her? What about when your older and you have a job and you have to work on a project with someone you don’t get along with? It is a valuable life lesson for the kids to learn cooperation, and also when to give one another space.
We discussed preferential treatment…why does the oldest get more outings? Because she works much harder at doing what she is asked. So, yes, if you do all the chores on your chore chart and then aren’t shy about helping out on top of that, I may be more likely to ask your friends over….these are difficult ideas for young minds, and there is a part of me that doesn’t want to have to go through these growing pains with them. But, on the other hand, there is joy in knowing what they CAN do to help their situation, and also talking through their frustrations with their life. I can not change much of what is difficult for them, but I can listen and validate their feelings. I can acknowledge the sufferings of a child who wants her own space, I can try to make sure she has a shelf to put her favorite possessions, even though I may not be able to give her a room.
And I think it’s important to say, there is a shame or lack of understanding for large families (as if you hadn’t noticed).The world says we shouldn’t have more than the children we can perfectly provide for. I have often been asked, “How do you afford it?” and I would like to clearly state for the record: it’s not about that. Do you know someone who has whatever their heart desires? My new response to these questions is: How can we afford to have more people who don’t know what it feels like to work for the good of someone else? Why do we want more children who believe good things should come their way without hard work? Should we expect big things to come from a generation who doesn’t have much expected of them? What benefit is it to create a world for our children where no hardships exist, only to toss them into a world that is full of competition, and difficulties? I think the real question is: “How can we afford to have children without a strong family to support them?” There will be challenging circumstances for all of our kids at one point or another throughout their life. Who will they fall back on when you are gone? I think we sometimes have a blinder on as parents, we feel that if we do everything a “good” parent is supposed to do, our child will turn out well and be able to muscle through life by the force of some inertia we created because we did all the proper things in good order!
I take great comfort in knowing that even if I mess everything up, or die unexpectedly, my children have not only a wonderful father, and Aunts and Uncles who would be there for them, but they have one another. They may fuss about not having their own room now, but believe me, when the harshness of life rears its ugly head, they will have something much more reliable than a trust fund…they have a built in support system that cares for them like no amount of money ever could. People, GOOD HOLY LOVING people, that is the business I am into. I don’t think it’s important to enough of us. Maybe I will start to say something altogether unexpected to the naysayers: “What you see here is difficult, and expensive, but not everyone can do it, so that’s why I am doing it….Someone has to raise the next generation of GOOD HOLY LOVING people!”
And to the wide-eyed stares: “Having children who can spread the gospel to the nations with their life, that is my goal.” It makes a lot of folks feel uncomfortable, and I’m getting less and less concerned what others perceptions are, and more and more compassionate towards the good hearted people who simply do not understand how beautiful and good my life is. My hands are full as the old saying goes but full is what life should be: full of joy, love, and lots of wonderful little children. When did a woman’s worth stop including her number of children? There are 24 references to breasts in the Bible, comparing the nourishment, and satisfaction the Lord supplies to his people with a nursing mama. Shouldn’t I be proud?
Most families in the US have about two children. I understand why this is and how many factors contribute to this choice people are making. I understand even more on days when I stubbornly try to fit one more bunk bed into an already crowded room, or when we need to add another shelf in our family closet in order to contain all of the clothes! But I never (yet) wish I hadn’t had all of these kids. I never wonder if my life would be better had I thought more “responsibly” and chosen a smaller family size. I know it isn’t the easiest path, but I’m really okay with being one of the few who keeps our beloved country above replacement level.
“But if fertility rates continue, then within a few decades the population of the United States and Europe will begin to fall. This is already happening in Russia and Italy. Some statisticians have estimated that were it not for illegal immigrants, the population of the United States would be falling today…” check out this website for more information on fertility rates.
At the end of the day, there are many many things to be thankful for….Not just for the people themselves, who have taught me about temperaments, personalities, and how to appreciate individuals for who they are. But also for the many tiny ways, this life has opened my heart to be a better person. I am very much a work in progress, but I see hopeful glimmers – He is working on me. And he is working on all of us by putting us with the families we are with….
May we ALL have the ability to demonstrate loving kindness and good communication to our children, and may we not be afraid of having children. They truly are a blessing…