Last week my wife was out for a walk. A man who is an acquaintance of ours stopped his car to have a brief chat with her. He pointed directly at her belly and said, “Looks like you guys don’t know when to quit, do you?” He said this in reference to the obvious fact that my wife is very pregnant. Melody did not really respond as she was both stunned by his words, and she is very nice. But if I had been there, I definitely would have said something. I will let you decide whether or not my absence was a good thing.
Yes, we are a few weeks away from the birth of our eighth child. And something about having what many people consider to be a lot of children makes people feel like they need to share things with you. Complete strangers, when they learn that this isn’t our first child, or our third, or sixth, suddenly want to ask questions or wax philosophic. Unfortunately, most of this is done toward my wife. So I am not afforded the opportunity to respond. Well, that changes right now. Here are my responses to all the questions, comments and sometimes downright lunacy directed toward a woman about to give birth for the eighth time.
“You do know what causes this, right?” Yes, we are aware of what causes this. Are you aware that you are not funny and that joke is tired?
“Is this the last one?” The last one what? The last baby my wife will give birth to? The last child we would gladly welcome into our home? The last time I will talk with you? Be more specific.
“I could never handle that many kids.” I know you and you are probably right. Wait, drop the probably.
“You trying for your own baseball team?” Nope, Quidditch. But we overshot by one. Oh, sorry. You don’t know what Quidditch is? Try some reading.
“You guys must really like kids.” Nope. Hate’em. Just really love changing diapers.
“I bet you guys never get even a moment alone do you?” Eight pregnancies don’t happen by magic buddy.
“You can’t possibly spend enough time with each one of them.” Of course not. We picked out two of them awhile back to just ignore. Think of it as a sociological experiment.
“How can you afford all those kids?” We can’t. How about ten bucks?
“You trying to get your own TV show?” Yes, actually. It is a show where I go around punching stupid people in the face. Today is our first show. Yay, you get to be on TV!
“Are you Catholic?” How many Catholic’s do you know with eight kids? No we aren’t Catholic. We attend Holy Uterus Church of the Womb. No, not the one’s who use the rhythm method, they’re apostate.
“Are you Mormon?” Again, no. Well some of us are. We have too many kids to all fit in one car so we attend a couple of churches.
“I can’t imagine eating out with all those kids.” I can’t imagine eating anywhere with you.
“I just couldn’t do it.” No one is asking you to.
Now, let me say that most people don’t mean anything bad with these questions or comments. Many of them are just trying to connect with a world they find strange or unknowable. Some make it pretty obvious that something about our having this many kids makes them feel guilty for some weird reason. A few I think actually hate children. But if deep down you wonder why we would do this, then let me talk seriously for just a moment about why we are about to have eight children.
It is not because it is easy for us. We aren’t Superparents. It’s hard. It’s dang hard. It’s exhausting. It tests your patience and your kindness. Stretches your willingness to give to the breaking point. I will not pretend that I don’t every once in a while, look at someone who is my age and is almost done raising children and think, wow that must be nice.
We don’t do this because it’s fun (although it most definitely is!!!). We aren’t having more babies to try to prove something. We aren’t in a cult. We don’t believe this is what everyone has to do. We don’t believe it makes us better than anyone else.
We are having another child because that is the blessing God has given us. We are willing to have more children because that is the calling from Jesus He has placed on us. We gladly take on the responsibility of another child because we believe God will provide the patience and stamina we need in the moment we need it.
We are having an eighth child because the seven we already have been the most wonderful, amazing, most life-changing gifts we have ever received.
Nothing has transformed me, matured me, like having all these kiddos. My compassion is deeper, my patience longer. I am learning how to love in the midst of difficulties, to be responsible in the midst of chaos. I am forced to constantly reconsider whether something is actually important (almost nothing is actually important and the list keeps shrinking). They have taught me the real meaning of wealth, and the utter foolishness of holding on tightly to a few dollars.
The major problem with our world is not too many people, but too few who actually know how to share and get along with others. My kids and I are learning that lesson together. You must share to get through even a day at our house. You don’t have “your room” since there are a couple other people who could make the same claim. The operative words are “our” and “us” not me and mine.
I don’t want to try to convince anyone that having a passel of kids is the key to life. But I have had numerous people say to me (and us) that they wish they would have had more children. I have yet to have anyone say they should have had less (although I know they are out there somewhere).
I love these guys. Every one of them. Would have been perfectly happy with seven. But eight sounds even better.
And now to answer the man who spoke with my wife last week.
“You guys don’t know when to quit, do you?” Quit what? Talking to morons? Yeah I guess we don’t know when to quit.
Or how about: “You guys don’t know when to quit, do you?” Are you making a fat joke about my wife? You thought she was pregnant?!
Or: “You guys don’t know when to quit, do you?” I’ve watched you ___________ ____ _____ _____ ______ ______ ____ _______!” (sorry, redacted by my wife for being just too mean and accurate.)