I‘m delighted to share the latest installment of my series of email interviews with mothers of large families. This one is by Ouiz, who has the great blog Chez Ouiz, and is currently pregnant with baby #7.
Below is just one of the questions she was so kind to answer (I’m posting them one at a time). It’s the same one I asked Milehimama and Hope; I love hearing each mom’s unique story and thoughts on this issue, and it’s nice to have as many voices as possible to address the impression in our society that fewer children is always better.
Be sure to read the whole thing. I was wiping tears from my eyes after reading the story she relays at the end.
Q: To paraphrase what so many people in our society would think about having so many children: Why? It would have been so much less expensive and less work and less strain to limit (or at least try to limit) your family to just two or three children. What would you say to that?
My husband’s conversion to Catholicism required a lot of soul searching and prayer on his part and was hard won. After wrestling so hard with such issues as Church authority, he was certainly not going to turn away from the Catholic Church so soon afterward and say, “Well, you guys may be right about OTHER things, but in the area of family planning, we’ll do things our way…”
We never set out to have lots of kids. We simply decided to remain open, and allow the Lord to decide what we could handle.
It would be a lie to say that it has always been easy. There have been times when the sheer number of children, spaced so close together, has driven me to tears. Many days I have locked myself in the bathroom and said, “Dear Lord, I just can’t DO THIS!!!” And while He’s never answered me audibly on that one, His response has always been, “I know…but I can. Give this to Me and let Me give you the grace you need…”
And He does. Faithfully. Every single day.
When I am hounded on all sides by little ones who need something from me, I remember the crowds who clamored after Jesus — each demanding that their needs be met — and know that He understands.
When I look up in tears and beg for just a moment’s peace, I remember how He called His apostles to come away with Him and rest for a while…and He gives me the rest I need.
When I am surrounded by clutter…changing yet another diaper…cooking another meal…cleaning another spill…washing yet ANOTHER load of laundry…I remember that all of these are corporal works of mercy, and He is giving me one opportunity after another to grow in grace and virtue.
When I get strange looks in the stores, or feel that little jab in my gut when I see what others in my peer group have, I get discouraged. I take my eyes off of the Lord and have my own little private pity party… but that disappears when He gently nudges me and I really see the blessings I have.
I have 6 (with one on the way!) little ones who love me, who think Mommy hung the moon and the stars, who grab my face with sticky little fingers and say, “You awe da best Mommy in da whole wide wowld!”, who deeply love their siblings and take care of them in ways that just melt my heart…
How can anyone think that I am the one being cheated out of life here?
Secondly, even aside from Church teaching, I can’t imagine making that sort of decision — either permanently (through surgery) or just delaying it…and delaying it….and delaying it…through some sort of contraception. I would always have that nagging question in the back of my mind: “Who am I missing? What sort of child could I have had, if I had been open to the possibility?”
One final note: the receptionist at my OB office had two children, one boy and one girl. Tragically, her son died during an accident at college. Several months later I got pregnant again (I believe this was #5) and came in for the initial check up. As I was signing in she could see that I was a bit embarrassed being back AGAIN so soon, so she grabbed my hand and said something I will never forget:
“When I was younger, I had my two children close together. My husband wanted more, but I told him I was done, done, done, and if he wanted any more, HE would have to have ’em! I had my tubes tied because I had my ‘million dollar family.’ One boy, one girl. Perfect.
“Now, I wish to God I could go back and change that. If I could, I would go back and have as many as the Lord would give me. It wouldn’t make my pain any less, but I see now that I robbed us of the joy that all those possible children could have brought us.
“So hold your head up high, and don’t ever let ANYONE tell you you are making a mistake. Children are NEVER a mistake.”
Thanks, Ouiz, for these beautiful thoughts!