From the mouths of babes. :)
In honor of our most recent pregnancy, (yes, that’s an announcement!!!) I thought it would be fun to give our answers to some of the most common questions/comments aimed toward families with lots of kids. Most of these questions don’t bother me unless they’re presented sarcastically (and some of them often are) but it’s funny how many people have NO IDEA how many times we hear these questions/comments over and over again! So here is everything you really want to know, but are too polite (or not!) to ask….
Are you catholic?
We’re not, but we do tend to lean toward catholic teachings in this regard. Few people realize it, but up until 1930, all christian denominations considered birth control a sin. In fact, the use of contraceptives was once illegal in America. It wasn’t until the Lambeth Conference in 1930 that the Anglican church, swayed by social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed in limited circumstances. Soon after, all other Protestant denominations followed suit and in 1938, in large part thanks to a woman named Margaret Sanger, the federal ban on birth control in the U.S. was lifted. While we don’t go so far as to say that all forms of birth control are a sin, we do believe that children are a blessing (Psalm 127) and that God desires married couples to have children (Mal 2:15.) I also believe that the practice of separating the act of sex from the conception of children has led to the huge rise in our culture of abortion, divorce, pornography and promiscuity. But that is fodder for another post.
Do you use birth control?
From even before Jon and I got married and before I’d ever heard the term “quiverfull,” I knew that I never wanted to use birth control, because it’s exactly that. Birth. Control. I felt that the number of children I had was something I wanted God to be in charge of. After all, what else in this life has more eternal significance than the number of children we bring into the world, and how we raise them? Having said that, however, I’ll admit that I get just as frightened as anyone else over the prospect of another pregnancy and at times even just plain selfish (I had no desire to get pregnant in the middle of training for a marathon, for instance.) So at various times in our lives, we have used birth control in the form of Natural Family Planning or abstinence. Without going into too much detail, we have gotten pregnant under some pretty incredible circumstances through which God has made it obvious that He is personally responsible for the number of children we currently have and I’m comfortable with the way we currently do things. Every now and then I’ll get scared and take back control, and God will gently remind me (usually with another pregnancy!) that He wants to be Lord, even in this.
How many kids are you going to have?
I have no idea… see the two answers, above. :)
How many kids do you want to have?
It sounds pretty trite to say that we want “as many kids as God wants us to have.” The truth is that with every pregnancy, Jon and I both have to go through a bit of a mental adjustment. Jon, especially, as he’s 11 years older than I am and worries about leaving me with young children some day. How many do we want to have? Well, currently, we’d be pretty happy with eight. :)
(Upon hearing that we’re pregnant AGAIN): Are you excited?
As I said, there is often an adjustment period for us when we first find out we’re pregnant, and the measure of how excited we are often depends on how selfish we’re being at the time. When I found out I was pregnant in the middle of training for a marathon I was pretty upset about it, to be honest. At other times, I’ve been thrilled. Once the initial shock wears off, we’ve always grown more and more excited over the course of the pregnancy and there is nothing like holding a newborn in your arms. Whether it’s number one or number 7, it’s the most beautiful, wonderful experience in the world. Every. Single. Time.
Are the kids excited?
Every time, and the older they are, the more excited they are.
Are any of them twins?
How old are they?
Currently, they are 12, 10, 9, 7, 5, 2 and 18 months.
How far apart are they?
Our closest (#1 and #2) are 15 months apart, and our furthest (#6 and #7) are 29 months apart. This next one will be roughly 26 months apart from his/her youngest sister.
How many girls/boys?
Currently, five girls and two boys.
Are they all from the same marriage?
Jon and I have seven children together, and I also have a stepson who lives with his mother in Tennessee.
How do you afford it?
If we waited until we could afford it, we would never have had one child, let alone seven! It’s been our experience, and that of the other large families we know, that “whom God sends, He also provides for.” Being open to having children is an act of faith, perhaps the most significant and far-reaching act of faith in our lives, and God has never let us down.
Are you on welfare?
No, we’re not on any form of government assistance.
What does your husband do?
He’s a nurse.
I bet you get a huge tax return!
Actually, only three of our children have social security numbers (before we knew better,) so we get virtually none of the tax benefits of having lots of kids.
(From the comments section):
Why don’t your kids have social security numbers? Isn’t it required?
With all the problems social security is currently facing, we want our children to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to participate in it. Considering the fact that the government is taking wages out of our paychecks each month to support a crumbling system, we think it’s THEIR decision to make, not ours.
As for being required, it’s absolutely NOT. It is, however, required for tax purposes (which is why we don’t get a tax break for our children who don’t have SS numbers. This is one of the ways the government convinced virtually all American citizens to enroll their kids in it.)
Do you drive a bus?
No, we drive a fifteen passenger van and are trying to fill it and get our money’s worth out of it. ;)
How old are you?
I’m 33, Jon is 44.
Wow, you look too good/too young to have so many kids!
Okay, so in reality no one has ever said this to me, but it sure would be nice if they would!
Are you competing with the Duggars?
Haha, aren’t you clever. No.
Are you working on a basketball team?
Um… no. But it would be pretty cool to have a family like this:
Without all the bluegrass, that is. ;)
Don’t you think (insert number of current children here) is enough?
This is another sarcastic remark veiled as a question, but to answer: Yes. Since we firmly believe that God is invested in how many children we do or don’t have, and He hasn’t yet informed us of the total number of children we’re going to have, I am positive that our current number of children is exactly enough for now.
Oh my goodness, I only have [insert number here] and they drive me crazy. How do you do it/How do you manage?!
I drink. Copiously.
I manage the same way everyone else does, whether they have one child or 20. One day at a time, some days better than others, and some days I feel crazy, too! I’m not a saint, my kids aren’t perfect, and I’m far from the perfect mom. But what seems chaotic to someone else is just my “normal.” God (usually!) sends them one at a time, and you simply adjust.
And to those who look at their two or three children and think they could never handle 7 or 8, keep in mind that I probably don’t do for my 7 children all that you do for your 2, especially if your children are young. All of our older kids have responsibilities around the house, and they’re all incredibly helpful. Our oldest kids are even starting to cook more often, simply because they want to, and that in itself is a HUGE blessing. My children are also able to entertain themselves with very little (we don’t electronics at all and watch very little TV) and, of course, they always have someone to play with. So I actually feel like my job is easier than it was 8 or 9 years ago when we only had three. Don’t get me wrong – my house is almost always a mess and we can never find anything, but now my life is crazy thanks to my compulsion to complicate it with goats and cows and puppies, and not so much because we have another child every couple of years or so.
Do your older kids help a lot?
Yes, they do, and something that our society can’t understand is that my older children don’t consider it a burden to help. My two oldest have recently taken over a lot of the cooking in our house because they want to and they recently asked if they could start milking the cow, because we only have one goat in milk right now. Our third daughter loves to “babysit” her youngest sister, and even changes her diapers on occasion, simply because she thinks it’s fun. That’s not to say they don’t have chores that they don’t particularly enjoy, but that’s another great thing about having so many kids… everyone only has a few things to do in the morning outside of their own self-care such as brushing teeth, hair, etc. because there are so many of us here to do them. So yes, my older kids help a lot. All of my kids help a lot. But that’s because we’ve raised them to consider helping a joy and an act of love. And trust me, if you could see our house 6 out of 7 days of the week, you’d know that none of us are doing an excessive amount of cleaning! ;)
Did you always want a large family?
HA!!! No! When I was younger, I wanted a large family but by the time I was in high school, I was swearing I’d never have ANY children. Never say never. :)
Do you homebirth/homeschool?
yes and yes
Do you breastfeed/how long do you breastfeed?
Yes, and with our first three we were lucky to breastfeed past six months or so (mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing,) and with each child after that it’s gotten progressively longer. I usually start weaning around 18 months.
Haven’t you heard of overpopulation?
Yes, and it’s a lie, the explanation of which would also require a post of its own. But even if it weren’t, I’m convinced that the rising rate of couples with two jobs, two cars and huge houses; singles who leave their homes at 19 or 20 to get their own places and marry late in life; and the vast number of parents who buy myriads of toys and clothes and electronics for their 1.2 kids contribute far more to the “carbon footprint” than my family living under one roof with one breadwinner, very few electronics, a small number of clothes (from thrift stores) and our own milk cow.
Don’t you know what causes that?
This has to be the most hated, over-asked question OF. ALL. TIME. This is either a question that people A. ask to be funny (it’s not) or B. comment out of pure sarcasm or C. ask to hide what they really want to know which is: how often do you guys have sex?! Answer: unless you are a very, very close friend (you know who you are!): absolutely none of your business. But I’m going to answer this anyway, because many of my friends with multiple children would answer the exact same way. Contrary to popular belief and assumption, we probably have sex a lot less often than you think (Jon’s first words when we found out about the baby were [jokingly] “how did this even HAPPEN?!”) As I mentioned before, God has made it very clear that the number of children we have is the number of children He wants us to have.
And to those who ask this question in a sarcastic, smarmy kind of way as if we belong in the circus or a mental institution, I’d like to ask you a question: Why aren’t you planning to have more children? Why are you stopping a natural function of your body from doing something it was made to do? Why are you surgically altering your or your spouce’s body, using chemical hormones that are known to cause abortion or minimizing the intimacy you have with your spouce by wearing a condom? Just curious.
Do you have any regrets?
I have absolutely no regrets and I think that we’re giving our children an absolutely incredible childhood. I do occasionally struggle with feeling guilty, however, especially as I watch friends struggle with infertility and know that the pregnancies I seek to avoid (ie while training for a marathon) are pregnancies they would give anything to be “burdened” with.
I also struggle with feeling misunderstood and ridiculed because we live in a society that doesn’t welcome children on a large scale basis and assumes hurtful things about our family (ie. we must have sex all the time, or we must be in poverty, etc.)
Lastly, I regret my own perceptions of family and what it means to have a happy, fulfilling life. I have to admit that the idea of having small children in the house when I’m fifty doesn’t appeal to me. At some point I’m supposed to be free of the responsibility of raising children. At some point, I’m supposed to only have to cook a meal for two and do laundry for two and be able to look out my living room window without the haze of fingerprints obscuring the view. Right? And yet if family was really the most important thing in my life, I wouldn’t ever seek to be free of that “responsibility.” I’d seek to live close to my children, and have the privilege of helping with their children (which is a dream of mine, and one of the reasons we’re doing our best to learn to farm.) My oldest kids already talk about living close together and helping (and receiving help!) with each others kids. Taking care of children shouldn’t be a responsibility I seek to be done with. What else am I going to do with my time, anyway?
So there you have it. If you have any other questions that don’t pertain to the number of times my husband and I copulate on a monthly basis, feel free to ask in the comments section. :)