Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It's Really Nobody's Business How Many Kids You Have

A lot of mamas of big families will be nodding their heads "yes" to this. They do get a lot of comments (often negative) about having many kids. But -- I'm telling ya -- it goes both ways.

I will tell you of my experiences.

When I was pregnant with my third baby -- my son, Scott -- many people, often strangers in the grocery store, would approach me and my two little girls and say things (while pointing at my belly), such as:  "Was that an accident?" or "How are you going to manage THREE little kids?" or "I could NEVER have more than two." or "You got pregnant again because you wanted to try for a boy, right?" or "You got pregnant again because your HUSBAND wanted to try for a boy, right?" And the answer to ALL of these questions was a polite, but firm, "No. I got pregnant again because I wanted another baby." Random strangers would also ask me how in the world we would afford THREE children, in this day and age. I mean, how do you answer that in the middle of the aisle at Toys 'R' Us???

Admittedly, I was pretty tired when I had three kids under the age of four. But, I wouldn't have sent any of them back. ;-)

But -- before you get on your "high horse" about the "contraceptive mentality" and "the culture of death," dear Catholic people, I will tell you the other side of the story.

Scott did end up being my last baby. And I have since had some interesting experiences with Catholic people concerning the fact that I have "only" (gasp) THREE children.

Here are a couple of the most notable:

A priest once called me out FROM THE ALTAR, DURING MASS. He said, "You're Catholic. Why do you ONLY have THREE children?!?!"

And just a couple of weeks ago, I was at a party at a friend's house. The crowd was composed -- mostly -- of very "traditional" Catholics. I was the stealth progressive. Two of my kids were with me -- my 26-year-old oldest daughter and my 22-year-old son. I was speaking with a nice lady and she asked me if my children were at the party. I pointed out my daughter and my son. And she said, "Oh, I met them. They are very nice." That made me quite happy. And then she looked at me expectantly and said, "Surely, God has granted you more blessings?" by which she meant "more children." Because I have a very Italian woman nature, I kind of saw red. But -- because it is a northern (versus southern) Italian woman nature, I managed not to "lose it." I simply replied, "I have one other daughter, but she is chaperoning Steubenville San Diego this weekend." This seemed to satisfy the nice lady.

So, you see, there is really much judgement flying around -- from all directions -- about people's family sizes. And this is really NONE OF ANYBODY'S DAMN BUSINESS, except the parents'. There are advantages -- and disadvantages -- to all family sizes. And as far as being blessed goes, your family size does NOT determine the degree of blessing you have received from God. One child is a blessing. Two children are a blessing. Ten children are a blessing. And it is up to the COUPLE to make decisions -- hopefully, wise decisions -- about their family size. Also -- some people do not have any children. Some choose this state; others do not. If you want children, and have been unable to have them, it is heartbreaking -- but, you are still BLESSED. You are still LOVED by God. If you choose not to have children -- and this is agreed to by both people who make up the couple, for reasons that only they know -- you are still BLESSED. You are still LOVED by God. My parents had some childless couples as friends when I was growing up -- some by choice, some not. But, I always loved it when they came over. Childless couples often bring this sort of special attention and energy with them to the children of the families they know. I had wonderful times visiting with and playing with the childless ladies -- both the ladies who were childless by choice and those who were not. I gained a lot from the attention of these women, which was fresh and not colored by the exhaustion of caring for their own children. (No offense, exhausted mothers. I have been you. No guilt is necessary.)

Anyway, let's watch our tongues -- and our attitudes -- shall we? There are all types of families. They can all be beautiful and full of love. And people's decisions about how many children to have can be very complex. And these decisions are really nobody's business, but their own.

Pax. <3