-You know what causes that, right?
-Did you guys plan it like that?
-Will this be your last?
-WOW, that's a lot of kids!
-It's about time you got a pet.
-You've got your hands full!
-Are you Catholic, or Mormon?
-That's just too many children!
-How can you afford them all?
-Won't that be a burden on society?
-You need to get that "fixed".
-What a beautiful family!
This is just a sample of comments my wife and I (and other couples we know) have heard from friends, family, and perfect strangers over the years, beginning with our third child, believe it or not. (Isn't "three" supposed to be the new "two"?) I admit that I have made some of them myself, to other "large" families. I put "large" in quotations because, the fact is, families with more children than *I* am accustomed to aren't necessarily "large"; they're just families. But there is one question I have never been asked, and that I think would be a great question to ask someone like me or other families who choose to have more children than society is accustomed to: "Why so many?". (I think a good rejoinder to that one would be, "why not?". I might even toss in a "how many is too many?", and "too many for whom?". But that's not the point of this article, so I'll let the reader off the hook - for now.)
Why would my wife and I have so many kids?
I'm so glad you asked!! It's because we love children and we feel confident enough in ourselves as parents, with the help of God's grace, to be able to raise and educate this many children, and maybe even a couple more. It's because God has blessed us with the gift of being able to make babies and we realize that not everyone is blessed in this way, and so we want to honor God's gift to us by being generous to Him. It's because we place the irreplaceable soul of a child over the fleeting existence of our material desires. There may even be a hint of selfishness in our desire to provide uncles and aunts to our future grandchildren, and create a little army of prayer warriors who can pray for us when we are weak or old or dying.
And we are able to look at it from this point of view because, through our children, God has changed the way we look at life. I'll speak for myself, but I bet a bunch of parents will be able to identify with this. I used to be materialistic and self-serving. I used to enjoy spending all my free time doing what *I* wanted to do, and spending all my money on myself. Sure, I was a good tithing Christian and gave to God first. But then it was all about *me*. Having children changed that. It put me in a position of placing someone besides myself ahead of my own desires. I found myself unable to afford my material "things" because my children needed food, shelter, and clothing. I found myself unable to spend so much of my free time on myself, because I didn't have that much free time anymore. Now I spend that time on my children. And guess what?! It's wonderful. Until I forced myself to do things like coach my daughter's softball team, or practice baseball with my son, or just play in the yard with all of the kids instead of doing what *I* want to do, I never realized how fulfilling life could be. Gradually over time, day by day, for the past 12 years since I've been married, I have learned to live for someone besides myself. And who knows? Maybe in 20 or 30 years I'll finally have it down. Until then, my children [and my wife] will be there to help me learn to live the life God has called me to live. A life of charity, as opposed to a life of self-service.
For those comments I mentioned in the beginning, allow me to answer for them all:
-Yes, I have a pretty good understanding of what causes it; and I have a hunch you'd be rather embarrassed if I began explaining it to you in full detail, in the public arena in which you asked me, to prove my point. But I'm willing to discuss this if you really want to know.
-Maybe we planned it. Maybe we didn't. Either way, we followed God's calling.
-I don't know if this will be the last because I don't know what God has planned for us tomorrow.
-Yep, and I love every one of them! I feel truly blessed!
-Why would I need a pet? Is a pet made in God's image and likeness? Does a pet have an immortal soul? Can a pet take care of me when I am old and unable to care for myself? Are you suggesting that the only reason a person would want to have "so many" children is because they are somehow bored or want something to play with? Or do you suppose I'm just really codependent and need something to take care of? My children have the potential to become Saints in Heaven who will love and serve the Lord for all eternity. Why would I trade that potential for a pet?
-Yes, our hands are full. And our hearts are even MORE so.
-We happen to be Catholic. But that's not why we have more than two children.
-If it were too many for my wife and I, don't you think we'd have stopped by now? After all, it's not like we don't know what causes it. You may as well have said, "that's too many birthday wishes" and "too many hugs to get in a day"; "You have too many people in your house to tell you, 'I love you'." No, it's not too many.
-How can you afford YOUR lifestyle? If we didn't have children, we would be spending all our money on ourselves...or those pets you think we should have. Since we have children, we spend that money on them. It's just a matter of re-setting our priorities and giving up material desires for the sake of raising children for God. Sometimes I do wonder how we make ends meet, but we make it happen and God pulls us through every month.
-Burden?? My children's generation is going to be a small one; and that generation is supposed to be paying for YOUR Social Security; and will be THE taxpaying class to keep our local governments going. If anything, my "large" family will be the only thing to save society from a certain crash.
-Are you referring to my testicles? Because it seems to me that they are working just fine...obviously. Getting a vasectomy would actually damage them...make then NOT work. How exactly would that be "fixing" anything? Wouldn't that be "un-fixing" them??
-Thank you! It really means a great deal to me to know you see the beauty that I see in my family. May God bless you as much as He has blessed us!
But to close, I want to invite the reader to seriously consider this question which I sidelined earlier. When you find yourself thinking that someone else has "too many children", ask yourself this: "too many for whom?". Follow that question up with, "why does that matter?".