We became a family of seven after our new little […]
We became a family of seven after our new little addition 11 weeks ago. I guess that makes us a “big family” by American standards. Now that we are able to go out in public more, we are getting the typical comments from spectators.
“Wow, you guys have your hands full.”
“You sure are busy.”
And, my personal favorite: “You know what causes that, right?”
I understand that people make these comments in a lighthearted way, usually with the intent to offer sympathy for all the work of parenting we must have in front of us. The speakers of these statements always have smiles on their faces while their heads wave back and forth. The non-verbal message I receive is: “Hey, I’m trying to be nice and encouraging here, but really, your family freaks me out, and I sure am glad I’m not you.”
Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive here. Maybe that’s not what they are saying at all, but indulge me for a moment. Let’s assume that my perception is correct. Why would people be frightened by the fact that we have five kids? Why do they slowly back away from us as if fertility might be a contagious disease? Why do I feel scornful eyes following us whenever we walk through a public place?
I can think of several possibilities. Perhaps they are waiting for our powder keg of kids to blow up in an unpleasant display of crying, fits or chaotic noise. Perhaps they get a case of family-envy because theirs isn’t as large as ours. Perhaps they think we are one of those evil families that is intent on over-populating the world (a common misconception that has been debunked here). Perhaps they think that we must be miserable with so many kids, and they don’t want us spreading our misery to them.
Every once in a while, a sweet old person (usually in their 70s or 80s) will approach us and say something like, “I just love seeing your family. I have seven children, and seeing you guys reminds me of them. Keep up the good work.” These words are like a healing balm to our hearts, as we are so used to keeping our guard up to deflect the usual comments.
So, yes, dear bystander, I do know what causes these kids to keep showing up. My question back to you is this: Do you know what results from it? Do you know the joy they bring? Do you know what kind of legacy we are building with them? Do you see how we’re multiplying our influence in this world by training up these precious children to advance the vision of our family beyond our generation? Do you see that I don’t need your pity or your sympathy for how “hard” it must be? It’s not hard to do what you love, and I love being a father.