As a mom of 10, I wanted to attempt to dispel a few myths about us and our large families. Because we get a lot of questions, and I’m sure even more questions go unasked.
So, though not exhaustive, these are a few of the common misconceptions:
1. They are “special.” They have lots of patience. They are “superwomen.”
Not at all. None of those things. From my vantage point, I’d say one reason the Lord has given me 10 children is because I need such a constant lesson in patience. We haven’t been given anything extraordinary that helps us cope with a passel of children. We just
rely on fall desperately upon God’s grace and take one day at a time. And like any other circumstance, we do the next thing, figuring out what works as we go.
2. Their love is spread too thin.
This is an idea we fabricated either from real, albeit false assumptions, or from an attempt to justify our birth control decisions. I know it’s fabricated because I only ever hear it from someone who hasn’t experienced having more than two children. The dynamics of a large family are different, in some ways from a smaller one, and one is the advantage of more inter-family relationships. While it may be true that a mom has to share her attention among more children, they also have the attention and affection of each other, a benefit not to miss. Additionally, if the family homeschools, (which is commonly the case with large families) the time together afforded them far makes up for the uneven ratio.
3. They don’t love their children as much as a mom with one or two.
Similar to the last myth, this one is only heralded by those with no experience. I used to be one. Very early in my marriage, I didn’t want more children because I didn’t want to deprive another child of the intensity of love with which I loved my first. Then, I had a few more and realized how foolish the thought was. But I thought there must be a limit; because I assumed my neighbor with 11 children surely could not love all her children the way I loved mine. Now, from where I am, to think that was once actually a real, “rational” thought in my head is insane. I had no concept of the miracle of Mother-Love…the heart with no bounds and love with no limit.
4. They should be old and haggard-looking.
Apparently, because I get lots of amusing comments about how I don’t “look like” I have ten children. I don’t mind those. Rumor has it that pregnancy releases “anti-aging” hormones. That’s a happy thought.
5. They are on welfare because their husbands, unless they inherited a fortune, can’t possibly support them.
I suppose there are people who maliciously breed for money. I’m not sure I’ve ever met them personally, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Their existence, however, doesn’t make it standard. Some people have children because they choose to not choose to stop it. And they really, really love their children. They also are not on welfare and have simply adjusted their lifestyle to accommodate their growing family.
6. They are “so lucky” to be able to stay home.
I had this experience once. A woman I knew gushed to me about how she wished she could have more children and she wished she could stay home but there was no way. Which was fine until….she told me how “lucky” I was. Honestly, it was a slap in the face. We were struggling financially. But we had made the choice to cut out more things–more meals out, more vacations, more shopping, more everything, so that I didn’t have to go back to work. The worst thing in life is not going without some earthly comforts. Whatever sacrifice we made–and we made many–was worth it to us and to our children, for me to stay home. I wasn’t “lucky.”
I didn’t drive the kind of car that woman did. My fingernails weren’t manicured like hers, and I had to forgo highlights for my hair at the time. There were deeper sacrifices too. There was a lot that didn’t feel “lucky” about my life, but being home with my children wasn’t one of them. I’ve never regretted the things I had to give up. Our lifestyle changed. But it wasn’t about luck.
7. They have never heard dumb jokes about their reproductive life and will surely find yours funny.
Therefore, you sound embarrassingly corny when you lean in, chuckle and say, “You need to get a television.”
And I would kindly remind you that we do not return the comments in kind, and you would be mortified if we did. It would look something like this: (a stranger walks up to you and silently counts your two children, then looks around for others) “Is this all the children you have?” “Why don’t you have anymore?” “Is it because you’re infertile?” “Or do you just use birth control?” “You know what birth control pills cause, right? Cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol…” “Maybe you should consider getting rid of your television.” “Can you just not afford to have any more?” You get the picture. Pretty ugly, huh?
(Sincere comments and inquiries are very welcomed though, but these are different than the aforementioned commentary on reproduction.)
Just hoping to bridge the gap between us.