In our “a boy for me and a girl for you, then praise the Lord, we’re finally through” culture (to quote Voddie Baucham), our family tends to stick out in a crowd! From curious strangers at the grocery store to our closest family members, we get a lot of questions and comments on a regular basis. Some are comical in nature, a rare few downright rude, but most people are very supportive and encouraging, and we do get some serious questions from those who are genuinely interested in knowing the answers. I thought I would take a crack at some of the questions that we most frequently hear, both the silly and the serious.
Are you nuts? No.
Don’t you know what causes that? Yes.
Was this planned? Since before the Earth was formed? Yes. In our own minds from the beginning of marriage? No. Each individual child around the time of their conception? Yes.
Why?? There are so many answers to this, and I can’t begin to explain the depth of the many reasons why. But here are a few of the answers… We love children. We have a tremendous heart for them. We have felt convicted that God desired us to have each and every one of these children. We believe they are a blessing, not a burden. They are a joy and a balm to our hearts. We consider it an honor to raise up a lot of children in our faith to bring glory to God. How’s that for starters?
I know a woman who grew up in a large family, and she hated it. She swore she would never have children. When I meet someone who grew up in a large family, they always let me know! They never fail to tell me their feelings about it. Occasionally one will express that they hated it, but by and large, most will tell me how much they loved it and how glad they are to have had lots of siblings. Sometimes a teary-eyed older person will tell me that now that their parents have passed on, they are so glad to have those sisters and brothers with whom they shared their childhood. Some will tell me that now some of their siblings have passed on, and how dearly they miss them.
So what makes the difference between those who loved it and those who hated it? I can’t be certain, but I have a theory that it often has something to do with their parents’ feelings about their large brood. When parents believe their children to be a burden and hardship, and are bitter about being stuck with their “lot in life,” I think this bitterness rubs off on the children, who grow up with a mindset that having a large family is a terrible thing to be avoided. But, when parents feel that raising a large family is a privilege, blessing, and honor, I suspect that the children grow up feeling that it’s pretty special to be part of such a family.
I can only speak for my crew, and they think it’s awesome to be part of a large family.
Are you the most patient woman in the world? Absolutely not. Having a lot of children has been a magnifying glass to my impatience, and has driven me to my knees in prayer more times than I can count. I can say with certainty that the Lord has used my “mommy of many” role to refine me in patience and many other ways. (Update: Click here to read more about how God is growing me in patience.)
Are you the most organized woman in the world? Ha ha ha!!!! Ahem. No, I am most certainly not the most organized person in the world. By sheer necessity, I’ve (once again) been driven to my knees to seek wisdom in how to manage things. I’ve read books, I’ve applied, I’ve adapted, and I’ve carefully planned routines and systems in the home to help me live in an organized way. With the Lord’s help, I’ve learned to be organized enough to manage a house full of children. Which, by the way, is partially why I started this blog!
What about “Me Time?” Hmmm… How do I answer this? Let me preface by stating that I do believe rest is essential, and every mother needs some amount of quiet, calm, peaceful time to regroup. However, I think that “me time,” in the way that most people think of it, is overrated. I’ve searched the scriptures, and there just isn’t anything in there that would justify tremendous amounts of “Me Time.” Rest? Yes. Enjoyment of creation? Yes? But there’s a whole lot more in there about hard work, dying to self, and putting needs of others before yourself.
That said, I must confess that I love the hours in the afternoon when my youngest ones are napping and the house is so very quiet. I love the early morning hours when the sun isn’t quite up, and the house is quiet. I love the time when the little ones are all put to bed, and the house is quiet. I love when I can get an uninterrupted shower. BUT! I also love: the morning time when we are bustling through the house with breakfast and chores… cuddling on the couch reading stories… the hours of homeschooling… the sound of the children playing together… the time of day when the little ones wake up from their naps… chatting with my kids while preparing dinner… playing “Hide and Seek” or “Apples to Apples” with them… making a jumbo, messy, bowl of popcorn and letting them dive in to it on movie night… and just talking to my kids.
What is “Me Time?” Is it simply doing things we love to do? My days are full of those, children included! And I even find time to do things by myself, such as writing blog posts like this or reading books. Is “Me Time” defined as rest? I manage to get that every day as well. Is “Me Time” getting out of the house alone? When I need to buy clothing for myself, I usually do so alone. I sometimes go to my doctor’s appointments alone. Occasionally I even get out to the grocery store alone, although most days I have all six kids in tow. Quite frankly, it makes very little difference to me. With a little training, kids can make it through the grocery store without making you crazy, and they can actually be taught to be helpful!
How do you afford all those kids? You’ve been reading those “Costs to raise a child to age 18″ articles again, haven’t you? Throw those away! It doesn’t have to be that way, truly. It can be, if you buy a bigger house with the birth of each child, buy all new clothing for each child, utilize a lot of childcare, and make dining out the “rule” rather than the “exception.” But it does not have to be that way. I happen to think that not every child (or even every two children) “needs” their own room. While I like my kids to dress in nice, up-to-date clothing, I pass a lot of clothes down from child to child, filling in gaps as much as possible with consignment store finds. We’ve had to upgrade to larger vehicles exactly twice, but I think our 12-passenger van will suffice for a while! Having a large family nudges you to think a bit outside the box in how you use the space in your home, and you really do find ways to make it work without having to buy a mini-mansion; I often like to share our new solutions for space issures here on the blog (click here for more info on this). Food does cost a bit more when you have more children, but I cook from scratch a lot, and have learned to enjoy it. I keep easy meals on hand for days that I’m tired. Not to say that we never dine out, but our culinary experiences have gravitated more toward the “kids eat free on Tuesdays” establishments, and dining out is the exception, not the rule. We’ve learned the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Giving and needs are taken care of first, and wants are considered carefully.
But what about college? I could do a pretty big blog post dedicated to this question alone, but I’ll try to keep it simple, while being transparent.
- First and foremost, if it is God’s will for our children to attend college, and we have been faithful in using our money as we feel He directs, we believe He will provide a way for our children to attend, and likely to do so without debt. We can trust in Him.
- If it is not God’s will for our children to attend college, then He must have another plan for them which will provide for all their financial needs. We can trust in Him.
- We don’t have to do it the “usual” way. Some other options are:
*Take first 2 years at community college then transfer to a larger university.
*Commute to a nearby university. No room & board costs.
*Online classes may be an option. No room & board costs.
*Kids may be able to test out of some classes.
*A trade school might be well suited to a particular field that our children want to pursue.
*Even if these options won’t work with all of our children (depending on their course of study), some of the options should work for some of the children, lightening the overall load of total college costs.
- We should have more money freed up at that time to help with college when it’s needed. We are currently paying almost double our mortgage payments. Our goal is to have our mortgage completely paid off by the time our oldest child has finished high school. Being 100% debt free will free up a lot of money to help with college when it’s needed.
- By the time younger ones are in college, older ones will be out of college and working, not relying on us to completely support them financially.
- There are several streams of money, large and small, that will work together help significantly with college costs:
*We have saved some money in 529 plans
*Kids can work
*Scholarships (by giving our children an excellent pre-college education and lots of real-world experience, we hope they will qualify for something here!)
*Grants may be available for a family of our size.
*Some bonds and other gifts acquired through the years
For more on this, you might want to read a great book called College Without Compromise.
Whoah – Did you say you pay double your mortgage payments??? How in the world do you do that? Nearly double, but not quite. Anyhow, if you have ever visited us and wondered such things as, “Why don’t they move into a bigger house? Why don’t they add on to the back of their house? Why do they drive their vehicles until they die? Why don’t they just replace those kitchen countertops? Why don’t they finish that basement already?” Well, now you have your answer. One can’t double their mortgage payments when they have the burden of car payments, home equity loans, and other consumer debt. With God’s grace, principles learned by Dave Ramsey, and a fantastic budgeting system (YNAB) we have managed to be debt-free with the exception of the mortgage. We’re working to fix that situation now! For more on this, you can read this blog post detailing how we manage our finances.
But just think! If you didn’t have kids, you could get a bigger house and drive newer cars… It’s a trade-off, I know. But I happen to believe that we are getting the better end of the bargain!!!! I’d take children over square footage any day. If your goal is to accumulate as much stuff as possible before you die, then we would appear to be very foolish indeed. But that’s not our goal. As Bubbles so beautifully stated the other day, we want something that we can take to Heaven with us. The best things you can take to Heaven with you are other people, and what a blessing when you can bring your own children!
Don’t you worry that you won’t be able to do anything with your life after your kids grow up and leave the nest? No, I don’t worry about that at all. I’m capable of being passionate about many things. At this stage in my life, being a mom is “what I do,” and as such, I expect to pour my heart into it. At the same time, I’ve managed to be involved in a number of different ministries, many of which I can do with my children. I’ve no doubt that the Lord will continue to place me in the path of new and exciting opportunities that He plans for me, even after my children are grown.
Do you think everybody should have a lot of kids? No. To be honest, I really don’t spend time thinking about decisions that other people make. It is not my business, and I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone else. My job is to live as the Lord calls me. And in my case, I am called to be a mom of lots of kids, a role which I happen to love!
Are you going to have any more children? That’s a question that I’m not quite ready to answer yet! But I can tell you this. In all the many conversations that I have had on the topic of family size, not a single person has ever told me that they wish they had fewer children. I’m sure there are people out there who feel that way, but I’ve never come across them. However, many, many people, whose child-bearing years have passed, have looked me deeply in the eye and said with regret, “I wish I’d had more.”‘