I came out on Facebook last week. Came out as practically-a-Duggar, that is. More specifically, I revealed that I am having a fourth baby by posting my 20 week ultrasound picture. In my real-life social circle, four children does not a large family make. In fact, families with “just” four or fewer are in the minority. However, out there in the greater society (and in Facebook land), it’s a whole different story. Even having three, my husband has received many comments at work about his “many” children. Four definitely seems to be past the line in the sand between “sane” and “insane” these days. There are many out there who just can’t understand why on earth anyone would want that many children. Some days I even ask myself why. Children are needy, and loud, and messy, and they interrupt my grand plans for my day, and my life. Children require sacrifice. Why would anyone want to sacrifice so much?
Truthfully, I don’t want to sacrifice. I think if I were holier, I would. But as it stands, the sacrifices are carried out begrudgingly most days. So, then, why am I having another child who is going to demand so much of me, and seemingly give back so little? It’s not because I’m insane (although I might be). And it’s certainly not because I enjoy being pregnant. Here are some of the real reasons:
- Children actually “give back” a lot more than we give them credit for. Sure, there are days when I feel like all they are doing is taking from me, but those are just feelings, unreflective of reality. My children give me so much. They give me kisses and hugs when I’m sad or not feeling well. They give me countless reasons to smile and laugh with their adorableness, and even their maddening antics. They give me perspective on what really matters in life. They give me lessons in how to get to Heaven, with their innocence, purity-of-heart, and quickly-offered forgiveness. They give me unconditional love. (Seriously, who else on earth loves as purely and unconditionally as children do?!) Perhaps most importantly, they give me opportunities to die to myself and become more like Christ. All those sacrifices they require of me? Those are—paradoxically—gifts, when looked at the right way. A life of comfort and self-indulgence is not a life that would bring me closer to Jesus and Heaven.
- Each of our children is unique and non-repeatable. Some people think that once you have a boy and a girl, any other children would be redundant. But, having four children is not like having four televisions. They are not objects, which can render one another superfluous. Each child brings his or her own unique personality and gifts to the family and the world. Each has an individual purpose and calling, and every life —no matter how short-lived— has a ripple effect. Our hope and goal is that each of our children will make the world a better place, while winning souls for Christ. So far, each of them certainly has made our home a better place.
- Siblings are a gift. I have six brothers and sisters. Growing up in a large family was not always easy or enjoyable. But I was always grateful for my siblings. They were my built-in friends, and they taught me about life and love. They still do. Siblings fight and make mischief together, teaming up to make their parents’ lives difficult at times. But the love among them is stronger than all of that. My children are so excited for another sibling. It’s rare to hear of any children among the families we know who aren’t excited when their mothers are going to have another baby. A new child multiplies the love in the home, rather than taking love from other children.
- God called us to. I know this sounds silly to the non-believers out there, but hopefully fellow Christians can understand this point. My husband and I don’t believe that our lives are our own, to live strictly according to our own wills; we believe in seeking God’s will in all we do. Sometimes His will seems to align with what we want, what makes us comfortable. But more often than not, God calls us to go outside our comfort zones and do something that doesn’t necessarily make practical sense. On matters of family planning (and really, in all matters), we know that God is much better equipped to be the final decider than we are. He’s the only one who can see the whole picture. When all we may see are the “costs” of each baby, God sees the blessings and the provisions that will come with each new life. He sees the whole future laid out in front of Him –the purpose of each soul within human history– whereas our view is so myopic. My husband and I live in awe of that fact, and so we don’t believe that our fertility is meant to be carefully controlled according to our own desires, or cost-benefit analyses. We sought God’s will about a fourth baby, and he answered us with a pregnancy. It’s as simple as that. No other reasons even matter.
I was nervous about letting the cat out of the bag about this pregnancy. Some of my friends have received less-than-kind responses when announcing their own fourth babies. I know there are people in our life who just do not understand or think positively of our lifestyle (although, thankfully, every single person who commented on the ultrasound picture was gracious and kind). I don’t know what certain people are saying behind our backs, but I realized that it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t be embarrassed or secretive about our children. Each of their lives is infinitely valuable and worthy of celebration, because each is created in God’s image and through God’s love. If pressed to draw one, my own line between “sane” and “insane” would be between those who see the value of every human life and those who don’t.
How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers! (attributed to Mother Teresa)