It's funny how often I hear this. The children and I enjoy counting how many comments our family gets when we go out to the store. Today we didn't even make it out of the car before the person next to us made a comment. He was saying, "Wow, look at all of these children!" and I hadn't even gotten Lilah out yet! :) He smiled and said, "1, 2, 3, 4...5! I'm the middle of 5 boys!" We chatted for a few moments then went toward the store. We had barely said good-bye to that person when another man looks at us and says, "Are they all yours?", I said, "Yes!" and he said, "You're amazing! I have an 8 day old and we're having a hard time." I assured him that newborns are VERY difficult and that the first baby in particular is a challenge. I wish I had more time to talk to him...I really feel for first time parents because I remember very distinctly how hard it was, how I felt like there was no way I could handle it all, let alone think of ever having more than one! Later we went to Whole Foods (generally not the place you expect to get POSITIVE comments on a large family) and when we were loading up the car, I turned around and an older (probably in her 60's) woman was standing there and she said, "I just wanted to tell you that you have such a beautiful family!" She proceeded to tell me that she was the 2nd oldest of 8 children (she was Catholic), and she and her older sister are 18 months apart, very similar to Savannah and Abby. She said she loved it so much and she misses that part of her life. She was only able to have one child, but she said that she loves to see large families and that all of my children looked so wonderful and healthy.
You know, living in a culture that does not appreciate children as the miracle and blessing that they are can be difficult on a larger than average family. I've heard of some people getting some very negative comments and to be honest, some people have said some things that are less than encouraging...mostly things like, "So, you're done, right?", but in general, I've been greatly encouraged by the people I've come into contact with. We met a young man who was one of 9 the other day, then that same day we met a woman who was one of 11. I haven't heard anyone say, "Oh my goodness, it was HORRIBLE!", everyone we've talked to has been so kind and polite, although it is rather funny to see how many people check us out and don't say anything. I guess some people take the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" to heart! :) If so, that's fine...everyone is welcome to their own opinion...but after hearing some of the things people I know have been told, I'm very thankful for the experiences we've had--especially since my children are with me wherever I go. I think of it as one of God's ways of telling us that yes, we are doing the right thing by letting Him have control over this area of our lives. Knowing that having more than the average number of children has it's challenges, we choose to embrace the fact that God knows what is best for us. He knows better than we do what we need, what is right for our family and what life situations will further refine us and build character. One person said, "Wow, you must have a whole different level of patience!", to which I replied, "Patience is a process". And it is. Sanctification is a process. When we choose the more difficult path of trusting in the Lord, it is going to be more challenging, but it will also be more rewarding because of the fact that character is developed through the trials of life, if we choose to surrender to God's Spirit. Believe me, there are plenty of days that I fight and those days are miserable...for me and my family. I hope that as I walk this path the Lord is leading me down, I am more and more able to yield to His will and His Spirit, because truly, that's where the sweetness of life happens!