"What made you decide to have a big family?" I didn't.
"How many kids were you planning to have?" One.
"I don't know how you do it." Me neither.
Honestly, having 5 children was not on my bucket list. There are days when I have no idea what I'm doing, or whether or not the kids will make it passed their tenth birthday. There are days when they are unsupervised outside, playing hide-n-go seek in other people's front porches, and leaving traces of wrappers, chalk, socks, shoes, and toys all over the neighborhood. I've been admonished in more than one store to keep my kids in check. And I have, more than once, yelled at the kids to get out of the refrigerators at Costco.
I know this doesn't make big families sound very fun. . .But they really are. Despite the constant chaos and the never-ending workload, I wouldn't trade my life for anyone's. It is an honor for God to believe that my husband and I are suited for such a task: to raise five human beings to know Him, to make decisions based on what they've learned, and to love people the way God does. Not an easy task, granted, but a noble one.
That said, I want you to set aside any preconceived notions of big families (especially Jon&Kate+8). Family size needs to be thought of from the beginning.
And by the beginning, I mean your marriage. Yes, marriage. I know there's a trend for unconventional means of parenting (single by choice, gay couples, unmarried but living together, etc.) and those I can talk about in a different blog if you wish. But I'm going to assume you are married, or about to be.
As soon as you walk down that aisle and speak your vows in front of witnesses, you have become a family. You are no longer two separate people, but two pieces of one unit striving to move together in one direction. In-laws, relatives, friends, parents all become secondary to your spouse. Every morning is a choice to love the other, even with morning breath and bedhead.
And this choice to love creates an atmosphere of intimacy. . .Emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy. God created us for this. It is why, even at an early age, we desire to be loved and wanted. But this level of "giving yourself away" is reserved for marriage. That is why, when you have a good marriage it is so rewarding. And when you "fail" at marriage, it is so heartbreaking.
Marriage is the most important relationship to work on and cultivate. Nothing, aside from a relationship with Jesus, comes before your spouse. This is including the discussion of children, or even the children themselves. Disagreements happen, and common ground can seem hard to negotiate. All I can say is, soften your own heart and ask God what He wants. Look beyond your own desires and love your spouse, no matter what. Don't take things into your own hands, but wait for God to lead the way. With that in mind, let's look at the issue of having kids.
"I want another, but my wife/husband says no more."
"We are definitely not having any at all. . I'd be a terrible parent."
"I'd love to have a big family but we just can't afford it."
"I'd have another, but my husband never helps and I don't think I can handle it."
"Kids are expensive. I'd like to be more prepared."
"I see how crazy the kids are down the street, and I don't think I can do that." (whoops, sorry)
I've heard statements from all over the gambit. Some are valid: "It is dangerous for me to have any more." Some are not: "I like being able to do whatever I want whenever I want." In the Bible, there is not an explicit command: "Thou shalt have two children, one girl and one boy." Some people claim that having children is something commanded of us as a married couple. Others believe, especially with the new forms of contraception and birth control, that we can choose whether or not to have kids and how many.
I come a little in-between.
Yes, we can choose. But we can also choose to eat a box of chocolate bars. We can choose to go 90 on the freeway and get a ticket or crash. Or go 45 on the freeway and get a ticket or cause someone to crash. Life is all about choices. Even to sit on the couch and do nothing is a choice. So what matters is not whether or not we get to choose, it is what we choose.
Here's where I recommend that you let go of your unalienable rights to choose. Some people get so caught up in the right to choose, that they forget that it's making a right choice that is relevant to this conversation. And just to spite, they choose wrong in order to prove that they can. I believe this to be an atrocity. We are talking about little human lives here, not whether or not to obey Mom and Dad's rules.
And I'm not just talking about abortion. I'm talking about the ability to choose to have even one child. From a Christian perspective, I think that putting your foot down and refusing to have children, for whatever reason, is walking on thin ice. Who are we to dictate to God what we are and are not going to do? Who are we to think that we know better than He, Maker of the Universe? I might be stepping on toes here. All I'm asking you to do is check your heart. Is there arrogance there? If you were to have a conversation with a couple who are physically barren, would you seem like a petulant kid in your refusal?
I do not, at all, want to minimize the fact that children are a huge responsibility and there is a chance that we, based on our own childhood experiences, might warp a young one's mind. There is a mountain of commitment involved, and extreme humility required to be successful. And despite all our efforts, the children will turn out the way they will turn out. But God is to be trusted. The children will also turn out to be who they are supposed to be despite all our shortcomings.
So no kids at all by choice? I'm not sure I would agree it is a good choice. It is yours to make, and you might feel very justified in the decision, but I urge you to look at the reasons. If you claim to trust in God, to believe in the teachings of the Bible, then I would look passed the finances and workload and look to the blessings. For leaving a light in this world also involves leaving a legacy of God-loving children, who in turn shine bright lights to those they come into contact with. And the blessings are more than you can even imagine.
To Be Continued on Blog Day #23
|Little One Day Old Hank. . .|
|So big! (Christmas 2010)|
|Charlotte and Zoe. . .Parenting is not just about the workload and inconvenience. . .It's about living life to the fullest.|
|And it's not about being a perfect person with the perfect circumstances. Children are blessings. Not just for you, but for the world.|