Something rather intrusive happened when we started having children. All of a sudden complete strangers were all up in my reproductive business.
I remember being pregnant with our first and shocked at the attention I received. I could no longer go out in public without someone talking to me. For a shy girl who would much rather go unnoticed, this was not an easy thing. But, I was a proud mama and most of their comments were sweet. What I was not happy about was that people I barely knew thought it was OK to just reach out and rub my belly!
Two years later came baby #2, this time a baby girl. Everyone was so happy for us. They thought that we had achieved the ultimate goal: "The perfect family".
Then came baby #3 and people stopped being so nice. Our perfect family was no longer cute...it was "a handful".
With baby #4, people were downright confused. "Are they all yours?!"
And then just plain rude. "Are you getting your tubes tied?" "Do they all have the same father?" "Better you than me!"
They also started to insult my children. They assumed that we had been trying for another girl, and since we had another boy, our child was not wanted. "Oh, your poor girl with all those brothers!" The princess of our family certainly did not feel like she needed pity.
When I showed up pregnant with our 5th child, people put us in a whole new category. "So, are you like those Duggars?" "You should have a camera crew following you around!"
I've also been surprised at how much encouragement we've received. For every one negative comment, we have probably heard five positive ones. We are always being commended for how well behaved our children are in public.
I've had countless grandmothers pull me aside and say, "I just love your big family! My only regret is that I didn't have more." And then they go on to tell me they had 7 children!
Over the years I haven't known how to react to all the comments. Many times I just smile politely and walk away. But lately I've been feeling very convicted. I've been reminded of the Bible verse:
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..." ~I Peter 3:15
Our faith absolutely has inspired our desire for a large family. We are not trying to make a radical religious statement. We have simply prayed that God would give us His heart for children.
Now that my baby bump with #6 is becoming more obvious, there has been a whole new set of questions and comments. But this time around I am seeking wisdom in how to respond.
I want to encourage the weary-eyed mothers of little ones. It does get easier.
I want to challenge the grumpy baby boomers to view children differently. They are not a nuisance. They are not a drain on society. They are blessings. They are our future. Their innocence should inspire all of us to live differently.
We feel truly blessed to be given the gift of our children. We now have a home that is so full of love and laughter it is bursting at the seams.