It happened again….
I took my kids to Taco Bell for a treat after school one day this week. Taco Bell has “Happier Hour” every afternoon, and the kids enjoy the frozen drinks. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking with it (Don’t judge me. I love Taco Bell.). My four children actually all behaved the entire time we were there. Shocker, I know. So, I was refilling my drink before we left the restaurant, and the man behind me commented on the kids. He was a guy around my age, so I was surprised when out jumped “The Question:” He said, “Are they all yours?” (I usually get the question from older people….I guess they take more time to notice.)
“They are,” I replied. “They keep me busy!” (Maybe I looked overwhelmed, or something?)
He went on to tell me about his two girls and how much fun they are. I remarked that they grow up too fast. It was a pleasant conversation, and then we left.
I try not to take all of the kids out to stores and such by myself unless I absolutely have to, because sometimes those trips are less than pleasant and sometimes I end up stressed to the gills. Maybe that’s why I get the question so often from complete strangers: “Are they all yours?” I hear that question more often than you would believe. And the next comment usually is, “You have your hands full!”
Okay, maybe I’m crazy, but four kids isn’t really an outrageous number, is it? I mean, it’s not like twenty-four or anything. My grandfather is the youngest of 13. I realize he was raised in a different time, but during his 84 years of life we seem to have gone from celebrating large families to looking down on them.
Hopefully most people are just trying to make conversation when they ask if all the kids are mine. I have to say that it comes across as kind of rude or judgmental, though. I almost feel like I need to apologize for reproducing so many times or explain that we really can provide for them ourselves.
I’m not quick enough on my feet, and I’m not one to be sassy or confrontational to strangers, but sometimes I wish I had some really great come-backs ready when people ask “the question.” Things like:
- “No, I picked up a couple of extras on the way here.”
- Or “They are, and the other seven are in the car.”
- Or “These are just the ones from my first marriage.”
- Or “Oh, yes. I’m producing workers to help reduce the Social Security deficit.” (I got this one from my friend, who also hears “the question” a lot.
- Or “Absolutely! Four future conservative voters.”
Okay, well, maybe those aren’t the greatest responses in the world. But something like that would probably be better than the apologetic look and sheepish response that I usually give. I think I need to be more enthusiastic when I claim all of my children in public. What are they, if not an incredible blessing, straight from the Father?
Our society has seen a drastic shift from one that values life to one that thinks of children as a burden—something to delay until one’s career has taken off. Or not to have at all. We have Roe v. Wade to thank, in large part, for devaluing life, which has led to decreasing birth rates, increasing child abuse rates, some serious financial problems for the nation, and so on. Sure, we don’t “need” large families anymore to work on the farms and such, and modern medicine makes it easier than ever to prevent pregnancy. But I believe that we, as a nation, need to re-focus our priorities, return to an emphasis on family life, and celebrate the gift that children are to this world.
Consider a few things that the Lord says about children and family:
- “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5a)
- But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)
- “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.'” (Genesis 1:28a)
- “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15)
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 113:13-16)
- “All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” (Isaiah 54:13)
There are many more.
My heart goes out to people who desperately want children but are unable to have them. I want to be sensitive to those families, too, and not imply that children have to be present in order for a family to be complete. God is sovereign and His ways are higher than our ways.
But instead of giving large families weird looks or making unkind comments, let’s commit to celebrate when we encounter them. After all, without children, the world’s population would die off and cease to be. Some countries are headed that way if things don’t change. I’m glad to be doing my part to re-populate the world and hopefully make it a better place in the long run.
Bottom line: Children are a blessing, even when they’re misbehaving in the grocery store. :-)