Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quite awhile ago (during the last month of my pregnancy with Gagey) a friend of ours sent an email to me & my sisters saying this:

So here's my other daily grind as of late...explaining to flabbergasted individuals (including some friends) why we possibly would have chosen to have such a "big" family. It really is wearing me down at the moment. For the most part, I have felt it easy to be positive and personal and just share pretty simply that "we've never felt done", and have really prayed about whether to expand our family after each one and have felt totally excited to go for it each time. But lately, I sense more and more people just don't get it, and perhaps don't really respect us for it, or even think it's just plain wrong. 98% of the time, I feel completely on the blessing end of choosing to live life a little differently and am mostly concerned with how God thinks of me, not the "world"....but for some reason it's hitting a little harder, or more often, or something right now! So mamas of 5, and soon to be 6 and 7...I would love to hear your experiences on this!

i thought maybe i'd post my response ~ just 'cause it's my blog & i know some people are curious about it...

So, i guess i'm the only one who hasn't weighed in on k's comments yet... Sometimes i'm too lazy to write out my thoughts... but i thought, i'll maybe give it a go.

Almost a year ago, i started an email to you, K, & before i finished it, (it had ended up in my drafts box) all of a sudden i was awash in my grief & every time i'd clean out my drafts box, for some reason that little email couldn't be erased because it was a part of my pregnancy with Hope, & i had so little to hold on to... so it's sat there all this year... so maybe i'll start with that little snippet. You probably don't even remember writing me an email in the first place, but we were talking about Neil's reversal:

"o my yes! it is so strange to have that part of our life so public, but it is... (it's something that has become a little obvious). It's been hard hearing opinions... (because Neil did this not really out of a change of heart, but out of love for me) ~ So, i've been accused of "wearing the pants" being an unsubmissive wife, & controlling... it's hard. i guess i want people to see my heart, but it's not always that easy. The pastor said this morning there's a saying "seek first to understand & then to be understood". Maybe this is my time of gleaning more understanding. Neil in all this is being kind & good & gentle. i feel abundantly blessed."

So, after everyone had gotten out their comments on the reversal, & my pregnancy with that little one, God called baby home... & i guess there has been a certain degree of compassion grown among most people 'cause with this little bun, we've certainly had less comments... i didn't make any effort to hide my grief ~ & it's still pretty raw & close to the surface, so i'm relieved they've trodden carefully.

In some ways, it's felt like almost all my pregnancies (& the questions about family size) have brought either pain or embarrassment, or both :) ! My first pregnancy was such a joy & yet, shrouded in an amount of pain too, because i knew i had done wrong. (i was pregnant when we got married) ... i was so looking forward to being pregnant again & then when we lost that little boy, i felt like, i'll never just experience the 'normal' joy that one does when one is expecting. As time went on, & we kept having babies, i was embarrassed by the way people asked publicly about sterilization: "didja get snipped yet??" & was mortified that i could be associated with it when finally the casual answer became: 'yes' ~ especially as i really felt God pulling at my heart & as my views (on children & the blessing that they are) had become very clear to me. But, then, there was a certain degree of embarrassment with the reversal too... (why did everyone have to *know*?! & have an opinion on something so personal??!!)

& finally, with the loss of our last baby i've become pretty fragile on the whole subject.

That said, i've sort of made my motto in responding to people, like the la leche league's motto on weaning, 'don't offer, don't refuse' ~ & yet i know that many, many times, people *do* want to go beyond the simple answers... "we have lots of babies because we like them :)"

Neil has felt frustrated that it's been his christian contacts and friends & family who won't leave him alone ~ kinda like you said, K, not only not respecting a difference of opinion, but seeing it as just plain wrong...(as a matter of fact, at *work*, almost every month, someone tells him how he'll never regret his big family & he's doing such a great thing... so neat to see God bringing encouragement to Neil this way).

So, here i sit... with 18 days left till this little one is due... not much 'fight' in me... just tearful hope that i get to keep this one. Seems as though all God has asked of me is to have my heart laid bare in public. It's becoming a bit of a habit to learn to be transparent. It's like that line in that George MacDonald book that mom lent me: (about the 'pastor') "To work thus, he had to lay bare his own feelings; where it was brotherly to show feeling, he counted it unchristian to hide it."
my humble .02c

Now, reading this (slightly revised version...) i'm realizing i didn't really answer k's question about how i respond to the question, "Why would you want to have so many children?!" (or i did, but it's kinda burried in there...) i guess my short answer is, "i want to be transparent". i've shared my grief, i've shared my joy. i pray that if someone meets me, they will see my gratitude to my Father for blessing me with these little lives to mother for Him. i guess if they prodded a little deeper, i'd tell them that i want God to be in control of this area ~ i trust Him & i count all *8* of my children as blessings. When they ask if i'd take a dozen (that happened to me this sunday!) the truthful response is: (neil would be shaking his head here *smile*) Yes.


Melissa said...

Paige - thank you for sharing this! I am so encouraged... thank you!

Jen said...

I've always wondered why 'back in the day' whe our grandparents had 15+ kids that it was no big deal. It was considered *normal*. Now when parents have 4 kids that is considered a BIG family. I don't get it. Do you think all those moms with so many kids would have gone on birth control? Do you think that they were disappointed when they kept getting pregnant? I wonder what they think when they watch those shows: 'john & kate plus 8' or those documentaries on big families... they probably think that looks easy. I think we are getting to be such a lazy society and very self centered. "We only want 3 kids".... so if someone who said that got pregnant with their 4th would that child be *wanted*? Hmmm...I think you've opened up something in me Paige...since loosing Brennan things are *different*. Little lives are much more special...

Jen said...

by the way...I love the video of Gage and all the kids/noise in the background...lots of love, smiles & fun.

Anonymous said...

I know you don't know me. Your blog is linked to Jamie's (princessruby) I was blog surfing and came upon yours. I do have an opinion on big families! They are GREAT! I come from a family of 4 and my childhood was a blast!
I have 2 and am expecting my 3rd @ 38 and I have taken a little grief over it - so I understand some of the opinion thing you wrote about.
I am sorry for your loss - I can identify with that as well... It is never easy to deal with others comments on things that cut so deep. Enjoyed reading your blog!


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