Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On Mothering Many Children

"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows."
James 1:17

"Oh, this is my fifth", I responded with a smile as I patted my belly.

"FIFTH?", she gasped, her mouth dropping in a gawk of sorts.

"Yes, my fifth. I am so excited."

"Well, are you Catholic or something?", she asked.

"No", I gently responded. "I just always hoped for a big family."

(What I really wanted to say was, "No, we just looooooooove to have sex and somehow, I keep ending up like this. Do you think we should get a TV?")

(But, alas, I refrained. No need sending her home wondering if I'm a sex-crazed, TV boycotter.)

"Well, you're a better woman than I am", she continued. "I could never handle that many. Good luck to you."

Then she walked away.

As the belt moved along and I stared at boxes of diapers, a large tub of peanut butter, a pack of Spiderman underpants, three gallons of milk, a red and black lace slinky number (I kid, I kid...) and the one-hundred plus dollars of "this is my life" that would soon fill up a cart's worth of red and white plastic bags that I'd lug up our front steps and into our house before collapsing on the sofa, I let out a small sigh.

That one wasn't so bad.

These exchanges - the ones between me and random strangers that I encounter out and about are part of my daily life these days. Some of them bother me more than others. Sometimes I’m happily surprised when a like-minded soul leans over and whispers, "Oh, how blessed you are."

I am a mother of many. Or at least today's definition of many. And, I currently wear a round, little basketball out in front that announces: Oh, my. She's done it, again.

Sometimes I wish I could wear my feelings for all to see - like I wear my growing baby. I don't mean the grumpiness I feel at relentless heartburn, or the elation I feel when I see a newborn in his mother's arms and know that I'll get to hold one of those precious little ones, again. I'm certain my face bears witness to those.

I wish I could wear the reasons that I've chosen to have five children. I wish there was more time in a Target checkout line to tell of the joy and adventure and love that has permeated every area of my life because four precious little creatures came into my world and turned it upside down with Spiderman underpants and empty milk cups and heartburn. And, that just the thought of adding this next one to our family brings me to tears of joy.

I wish I could express, to strangers and gawkers and whisperers, that I am not better or more qualified or less selfish or more of a woman because I have mothered a quiverful of children.

Nor am I old-fashioned or Catholic or downright crazy.

These children were born in my heart long before they were born from my body. And, along with that fulfilled hope has come sacrifice, long nights, an empty-ish bank account, fewer vacations, and less "stuff".

But, it has been and is the greatest work I've ever done. And, while my family has its challenges - some unique to us, but most commonly shared by families big and small all over the world - we have each other. Through the good and the bad. In times of have and have not. Around our kitchen table and when we run out the door to this way and that.

Yes, I am a mother of many children.

And, I have simply accepted each of them as nothing more and nothing less than what they are:


*This post also appeared on


  1. Tears. Love this. Love you. We are blessed.

  2. I often get, "wow, your hands are so full!!".....I say, "yeah...they sure are, FULL OF LOVE!" ;)
    I so get this whole post, you speak my heart.
    Children are a gift from the Lord, a reward from Him, (psalm 127:3)

    ps. you know you're not kidding!;) LOLO

    1. I knew you'd understand this one. :) Love and miss you. (Oh, and LOL! You know too much!)

  3. Thank you so much for posting this and helping me realize that I'm not alone. My husband and I just announced that we are expecting our fifth baby (my oldest is only 6!) and I have received so many different comments.

    My husband and I are truly blessed!! I just wish everyone would realize it too.

    1. You are indeed VERY blessed! I have loved having my babies close in age - such a blessing even in the hard times. I hope you have a wonderful pregnancy. Congratulations!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you, Heather. Hope you guys are doing well!

  5. There was a time in my life when I couldn't dream of having 5 kids. Then as I got a bit older a very dear friend had her fifth. I watched her closely and noticed how each child was so very precious to her and she took the time needed to be their mom to the fullest. My girls babysat for their family and would often tease that they wondered if they had the whole gang accounted for when they went for walks with the kids. We love this family! They are a wonderful example of love, commitment and sharing life as a family of seven. I'm still amazed that my friend home schooled them all! She is raising five incredible kids who love God, love family and love to serve others.

    Hats off to you Sarah and J! God's plan is far sweeter than any comments made by ignorant people. You have your hands full no doubt, but your heart is even more full :D

    1. Ginger - She sounds like someone I'd love to meet. Thank you for your sweet words.

  6. Replies
    1. I was speaking for both of us here. :) Miss you.

  7. I never imagined having a big family. But I know this is exactly how God has chosen to form me. To help me shed the layers that keep me from Him. And I always tell people I do it one day at a time, just like them.

  8. Families come in all shapes and sizes. We are expecting too, but I cannot wear it as you. Many don't know, and I want to shout it from the rooftops! I saw a shirt once that read "Am I showing? The answer is on my face, not my belly."

    Even if I wore the shirt, I'd hesitate to share. People think adoption is beautiful, and I agree, it is. But the shock on people's faces when I tell them we are adopting a 13 year old. It goes from a look of admiration to one of shock. I know many think we are nuts for adopting a teen; and one that doesn't even speak more than 20 words in English.

    But we're living out our life the way God has called me to and I'm not going to let any talk discourage me. The looks get even better when I tell them I homeschool, too! BAH!

    You are having the family God wants you to have - and you will be so blessed!

    Kind of fun being pregnant with you - except mine is simply pregnant on paper!

    1. LA,

      I love what God is doing in your family. I feel so blessed to get to pray for you and follow your journey.

      And, YES! LOVE being pregnant with you! :)

  9. Currently sitting here holding my third child... He is 4 days old! :) I was surprised and frustrated at the comments I often received throughout this pregnancy... And it was only my third! Already feeling annoyed at the comments I am sure to have for my fourth and I am not even there yet! Blessed we are.

  10. I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say that after my 5th or 6th baby - cant remember which - I got immune to the less-than-supportive comments from strangers. With my last pregnancy I actually enjoyed saying "TENTH!!!" when asked what number baby I am carrying. My favorite thing to do was mimic their immediate facial expression right after I tell them. If they opened their eyes wide in a shocked look, then so did I. If their jaw opened wide, then mine did, too. It amused me to do this. I don't get negative comments from family anymore. They gave in to it all after the 5th baby. Then it just became a part of who we are and everyone then just expected (and looked forward to) another baby from us :)