In case you hadn’t heard, we have nine children. Nine. Count ’em 1, 2, 3… yeah. Nine. Additionally, we have five grandchildren (and that’s just #1Daughter’s contribution). A large family is a blessing and… well… yeah. It’s a blessing.
Let’s go with that one.
And although all but one of those kids are now adults (for a whole week now!), I still have four living at home fulltime and two who come home on college breaks.
At any given time, there’s a pile of clean laundry beside the couch–a pile larger than most people wash in a week. For us, it’s only a day or two’s worth of clean clothes. We won’t talk about the dirty ones. If my husband wasn’t the amazing man he is, we’d have some serious clothing issues.
Cassie would flip out because I’d be lobbying for thrift store clothes on .25 a bag day. Bring ’em home, wear ’em (and pray they were washed first), and toss ’em at the end of the day. Okay. That’s hyperbole.
Look, we won’t even talk about how half of them are never home for dinner, but I haven’t learned to cook for five or six instead of eleven yet. And then there’s that little-known sorta-secret of mine.
I never wanted children. So obviously, I did NOT want a large family. I don’t LIKE children!!!!!
Here’s another one for you. I was wrong about that whole not wanting children. So very wrong. I just didn’t know it. I’m so glad God took care of that little problem for me!
So, why do it?
Having our family was an act of faith for me. When people asked us how many children we would have, I didn’t know how to answer it. I mean, what was I going to say? “Oops. Forgot to tell you, dear. I don’t want kids.”
And really, once you have one (and I brought one into our marriage–God’s idea, not mine), how do you decide you’re going to have one but not two. Two but not four. Six but not two. How do you decide on an arbitrary number? I didn’t know. All I knew is that God was right about my oldest, and He would likely give us exactly what He wanted us to have. If we trusted.
My husband agreed.
So we did. Baby after baby came. Strange… I rarely thought much of it. And yes, I had friends who thought I was crazy and others who really believed that I had all these kids because I just had this overwhelming need to get pregnant. Hint. NOT. TRUE.
I have never had the “baby itch.”
Others say it’s easy for me to say that because my body never had the chance to do that. Sorry. I don’t believe that’s true. Remember the part about not liking children? That wasn’t really a lie or an exaggeration. God blessed me with nine children that I love and like. But other people’s children–small doses, please. I really think it’s because many if not most children don’t mix well with extreme introversion.
I think that’s the culprit.
And I’m an extreme introvert.
(But aren’t my kids and bestekids awesome?)
Back to the whole baby after baby/large family thing.
So there I was… every 20 or 22 months, popping out another baby. One woman really tried to encourage me to stop. She thought I was only happy if I had a new baby or something. This woman (meaning me) values her sleep too much to use babies as self-validators. Just sayin’. I tried to explain that I was happy because I trusted the Lord. If I found out I was pregnant next week. I’d be thrilled. If I never had another baby. I’d be thrilled. And I meant it. I truly meant it.
In an effort to make her understand, I even tried to demonstrate it when we had an unprecedented gap between children seven and eight. Big mistake.
You see, she was always so negative about the next baby, that I’d gotten in the habit of calling and saying,
“I’ve got great news. I’m going to tell you and then hang up. Please don’t call until you can be happy for us. I’m pregnant.”
And then I’d hang up and a few days later, she’d call. We’d be good for another pregnancy. Well, between those two children, I called her once, said the same first part, but at the end, I said, “I’m not pregnant!” You know, trying to show that whole happy either way thing?
Totally failed. When I did get pregnant with baby eight, she threw it back in my face. “You were thrilled not to have to go through another pregnancy!”
Um… that’s not what I said. Sigh.
So, I want to go on record now.
[clickToTweet tweet=”I am 100% thrilled that the Lord gave us every single child that He did and WHEN He did. ” quote=”I am 100% thrilled that the Lord gave us every single child that He did and WHEN He did. “]
Trust me; I wouldn’t have my life any other way. I like my large family.
And when I had health problems and my husband took that as the Lord closing my womb, I was thrilled with that, too. I don’t miss pregnancy. Don’t miss nursing. I don’t miss sleepless nights and walking around like a zombie. And yeah, I never relished those things, but man… I LOVE my kids and am grateful for every minute with them–except when they were puking. Didn’t relish that. Don’t want to relive those moments. Just keepin’ it real.
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But there ARE reasons not to have a large family. And I thought I’d share them with you.
1: Having a large family stretches you in every conceivable way.
- Your house–you’d be amazed but eleven people CAN live in 1100 sq. ft. quite comfortably.
- Your finances–you’ll think you’re broke every day, but the money is still there to feed, clothe, and educate those kids. Because God is amazing. That’s all I can say.
- Your SELF–I remember once telling a friend, “These kids will be the death of me.” And she said, “GOOD! We’re supposed to die to ourselves. They’re just helping mold you into the Christian the Lord wants you to be.” Well, bully for them!
- Your body–ouch! Wow. I had no idea just how STRETCHABLE my body was until it stretched out and retracted time and again. And on that note, young moms, I’m begging you. Read this.
2: Time alone is precious.
You don’t get much of that lovely stuff with nine kids. People of one or two always tell me how blessed I am to have such a nice, easy transition into an empty nest. Well, I say it’s for the birds. Yeah. Why don’t we be more like those birds? Kick ’em outta that nest the second we think they can fly! Why, if I did that, I’d be sitting here with two kids and an office! (totally tongue in cheek, folks!)
- Of course, I wouldn’t have had those extra years with my second and third daughters–spending time together, laughing, watching movies, debating books and politics. Yeah, I’d have missed out on all that stuff.
- I’d be missing out on #4 daughter’s hilarious observations and generousness with her car when we’re down a vehicle.
- I’d be missing out on #1 son’s hilarious sense of humor (understated and dry–my fave),
- #5 daughter’s blossoming into such a neat person, and
- #6 daughter’s AMAZING cooking.
So yeah… I would have a lot more time alone. I’d have my office now. But you know what? Two of those kids are almost never here–off at school. Then they’ll be off in their own worlds doing their own things. I think I can wait until then.
If you love time alone. Skip the large family. Trust me.
That’s right. While I believe the Lord gives us children to bless us, not as “stretching exercises,” I know that they will definitely grow you spiritually–in one direction or another. You’ll either learn to cling to the Lord for everything (this is good), or you’ll run screaming from Him as the world’s biggest bully–the kind that attacks with a womb and nursing kid with razors for teeth. The Lord used mine in my sanctification process–definitely.
I, like many thunder puppies before me, was blessed with children and the Lord used them to humble me. Look, if you like being self-righteous, arrogant, and RIGHT… don’t have children.
But if you do, whatever you do, don’t have half a dozen or more. Eventually, you’ll either end up in a pretty padded white room or you’ll end up at the feet of Jesus, a broken woman–broken of pride, arrogance, self-importance, and most of all, thunderpuppyitis.
My kids will tell you. I made every mistake in the book. We did what we believed was right. I loved the Lord. We taught them how to learn. I taught them about Jesus. They have no idea how many hours I spent crying out to the Lord for wisdom. And that’s probably a good thing. I’d never have grandchildren if they did.
4: Large families make celebrations chaotic.
Ever see My Big Fat Greek Wedding? I rest my case. Seriously, if you love quiet, stress-free family events, don’t have a dozen kids.
Remember that time you accidentally spilled a glass at a restaurant? You were a well-behaved kid who made a mistake. Large families aren’t chaotic because they’re full of bratty kids who weren’t taught better. Nope. It’s sheer numbers. You exponentially increase the chaos quotient with every birth.
I’ve done the math. Of course, I had a LOT of birthday and Christmas celebrations as a kid. I loved them. I really did. But you know what? Let me tell you. I watch my kids with each other on birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays? It’s amazing. Beautiful. It’s SO COOL–chaotic at times… but man. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
What made me post this?
Why am I freaking out about big families today? Am I pregnant with the number 10 we’ve threatened all of our kids’ lives? (We said we’d have ten, they could each have ten, and then we’d get a hundred grandkids. Well, we didn’t keep up our end of the bargain, so they ALL say they aren’t going to go the ten route… even the one halfway there!)
No… not pregnant. At almost forty-eight, I’ve moved out of “thrilled if I do and thrilled if I don’t” and into “I’d be thankful for a child if the Lord gave me one, but I pray He doesn’t” camp.
I was just thinking about all the things that have made me who I am today–and having a large family is definitely one of them. But I’ve gotta admit a couple of things.
- There are definite reasons not to have a large family. And Emma below has another one. Answering the same question in the space of minutes… it gets old, folks!
- I’m still really glad that I did.
This is a revised post from 2016.