Moms of big families are used to it. The stares, the whispers, the sometimes just plain rude questions or statements said in front of their children. Children are a blessing, but a lot of people simply act as if they are a nuisance.
“Are they all yours?”
“Are you done?
“You sure have your hands full!”
“Did you mean to have so many?”
Moms of big families are used to it…but also tired of it. And honestly, they shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of public inquisition about their reproductive choices. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they’re not really entitled to GIVE you that opinion when you didn’t ask for it.
No one understands this better than mom of seven Karissa Collins. Last week she posed a very poignant question regarding big families on Facebook, and the post quickly went viral with over 3,000 shares from like-minded readers. Recounting an unpleasant experience she had in line with a fellow shopper at a grocery store, Collins asked, “So why is it that we joke so much about having or not having children?” That is the question Collins asked, but what I also personally want to know the answer to is, “Why do other people think they can joke so much about perfect strangers having or not having more children?”
Collins included a photo of her family, and said:
Children are a blessing. We say it but don’t speak it. I am guilty of this as well.
I scroll through Facebook and see people joking about being pregnant and joking about not being pregnant. The newest joke is who can make it through the summer without getting pregnant. When I go places, my life seems to be a joke to many. A joke about not owning a television or having anything better to do.
But God taught me a few years ago that life is not to be taken lightly. It is sacred. It is only given by God. It is a serious matter. It is a big deal.
When and why did we start taking life into our own hands?
The other day I was at the store standing in line at the cash register. The sweet cashier congratulated me on my 7th baby. The woman checking out turned to me and said, “Oh hunny, you need to put an aspirin between those legs!”
I have to say I have never had this personally said to me. I was pretty shocked. It was supposed to be funny, but why? Why is it common humor to joke about not wanting more children?
I understand children are hard. They make us sacrifice dreams and desires we had planned out. But I have never met a family that said they wished they never had their last child. Every single child has been a blessing. Every parent says that they can’t imagine life without every single child.
So why is it that we joke so much about having or not having children?
Everywhere I turn, I am discouraged from trusting God and having more children. I feel for the many women that just started on this path and have to face the daily persecution of trusting God. Everywhere we turn, pregnancy is made a joke and looked down on.
When I read the Bible, all I hear is encouragement to continue trusting God. I read of people pleading for more children and celebrating life. God’s favor is poured out by multiplying families.
So where did we go wrong? Why is life no longer celebrated? Why is life now limited when it was once begged for?
I think the first place we need to start is in our words. Are we encouraging people to value life? Are we making inappropriate jokes about someone else’s new pregnancy or telling them it is time to stop?
The first step to valuing life is watching what we joke about.
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”
At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!”
“The Lord your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised!”
I myself am a mother to three children. Because I had uncomfortable if not difficult pregnancies, and a second child who was extremely trying for the first four years of her life (colicky, never slept, developmentally delayed), I did not plan on having a third. I was not against having more children, but I was against going through pregnancy again. However, God had other plans, and my third and last child was born when my second child was four. I was still working through her developmental delays, but her long “difficult” period was soon to be over.
I did not PLAN to have my third child, but oh! How I shudder to imagine life without him. He is the apple of my eye, and brings SO much joy to every member of our family every single day. He is truly a gift from God that I didn’t know I needed. But God is good, and God knew, and God has a purpose for Jonah Rapson.
So when Karissa Collins said this:
“But I have never met a family that said they wished they never had their last child. Every single child has been a blessing. Every parent says that they can’t imagine life without every single child,”
it resonated with me deeply. I too have never met a family who regrets their “surprise” baby. Or their planned one!
I know we should not be offended by every light-hearted joke, but I think telling a mother of seven to “put an aspirin between her legs” is taking things a LITTLE too far, don’t you? The bottom line is, children ARE a blessing, and life is VALUABLE!
And also? It’s really none of my business how many kids other people do or don’t have?
Thank you Karissa for the reminder that our words MATTER. I will definitely be choosing mine more carefully, especially when little ears are listening.