"Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows."
"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 http://www.whattoexpect.com.