Ever had a conversation you wish you could do over? The kind where you walk away thinking, “why did I say that?!?!”
I had one of those conversations in Walmart the other day. It was just a regular Tuesday afternoon. I’d gone to the store for our weekly allotment of milk, cheese, peanut butter, and diapers. I always buy diapers.
I chose the checkout line that looked the fastest (but of course, it never is). The cashier was rather friendly and in a very talkative mood
The conversation went something like this:
Cashier: What did you do today?
Me: Nothing much. Just stayed home with my three kids. They are all babies.
Cashier: Like triplets!?!?
Me: Oh no! They are just young. I have a 3 yr old, 2 yr old, and a 9 month old.
Cashier: Wow! You got ‘em all out of the way quick.
Me: Well, actually we’d love more kids. They are pretty great.
Cashier: Really. That’s cool. How old are you?
Me: Umm…28, I think.
Me: Umm…28, I think.
This is where we take a minute to discuss how strange it is that I don’t always remember how old I am. Eventually she says…
Cashier: Man, you’re really joyful. Most moms are all blah and complaining about kids.
Me: (stumbling over my words cause I know I should talk about Jesus but not really sure how…) Well, there is a lot of joy in following God’s plan for your life.
Cashier: Ohhhh! You’re one of THOSE women.
Me: What women?
Cashier: You know...one of those women who wants to have a bunch of kids.
Me: Well…I don’t want like 20 kids or anything….I mean we just love Jesus so we have a lot to be joyful about…I like being a mom…
Cashier: Whew! Good. I can’t see you with like 16 kids or anything. That’s crazy!
I smile and quickly pay for my groceries. I honestly can’t remember the rest of the conversation. It seems like there was more but I don’t know what was said. All I remember is the one voice in my head saying the same thing over and over again.
“I take it back."
But I couldn't take it back. As I walked out to the car, my heart was humbled because in one moment, faced with the possible criticism of a complete stranger, I straight up lied.
Truth is, I'd love to have 20 kids.
We live in a culture that likes to put limits on God. We make careful calculations to determine just how many children we can afford. We evaluate our life plan and career goals and we try to time our babies just right to minimize inconvenience. We draw our lines in the sand. "God, I want this many and please, no more!"
But I don’t want to live like that. In our house, there are no limits.
It’s not that we don’t have a plan. We do. It’s simple and straightforward. We are going to love God, love each other, and love our children. Whether there are three or thirteen, we'll welcome every single one.
Please understand, we aren't out to set any records. We aren't intentionally trying to have a bunch of kids. In fact, we recognize that even though our hearts are set on a big family, it's not something God has ever promised us.
But we have decided that we won't be the ones setting limits when it comes to our family size. We won't ever "be done". We want to live with open hearts and an open womb.
As I think back on that walmart conversation, my heart is humbled because even though I am confident in my decisions I still fear what other people think.
This life we’ve chosen is so outside the box I don’t always know how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t sound…crazy! My default reaction is be get defensive, and I end up saying things I don’t really mean.
So I want to set the record straight.
We may be unconventional, different, old fashioned, or some rare breed of “super” parents, but we’re not crazy.
I have doubts and fears just like every mother. How will we provide for more kids? How will I manage to teach them all? What if pregnancy and childbirth isn’t easy for me? What if we need a bigger vehicle? Will I ever get a break from breastfeeding? How in the world am I going to do all that laundry?!?!
But if I’m honest, those things don’t really keep me up at night. Sure, they are issues worth thinking about, but they don’t concern me too much.
My real fears come down to one thing: YOU.
What will you think about me? Will you still like me? Will you say mean things to me? Will you judge me and criticize me when my back is turned?
When I’m tired and worn out, like every other mom on the planet, will you still be willing to pray for me and lend a helping hand?
Or will you make snide comments about how I probably shouldn’t have any more kids if I ever want to sleep again?
Will you assume that we’re judging you because our families look different? (We’re not.) Will you assume I must think you’re a terrible Christian because you do things differently than I do? (You’re not.)
Or will you rejoice with us, when Lord willing we have the pleasure of announcing the birth of yet another baby?
I am one of THOSE women. The kind who loves her children and loves her husband, and thinks the height of coolness is driving a 15 passenger van to church every Sunday.
I am one of those women who may never have a clean kitchen or a quiet house but will always have a full heart.
I am one of those women who looks at her 9 month old and wonders just how much longer he’s going to be her youngest.
I am one of those women who will choose to be joyful whether she thinks she’s ready for another positive pregnancy test or not.
I know that means learning to answer tough questions about our faith and our children. My prayer is that as our family grows God will also grow us in wisdom and grace, so we can deal with the criticism and questions that will inevitably come our way.
And I pray that through our family others see the joy of Christ and the blessing of children.