If this article is to be believed, then surely I am one of the happiest women on the planet, next to Michelle Duggar, of course. Many, many times we’ve heard the question, “Wow, did you always want a big family?” Or, less complimentary quips like…
Whoa, that’s a lot of kids.
Don’t you know what causes that?
Are you Catholic or Mormon?
Are they all yours?
You must have your hands full.
(I’ll admit, this one I HATE hearing, but not for the reasons you might think.)
So, I figured why not? Why not answer that burning question now. What got us from “Scott & Kathryn” to “Family of 7?” In chronological order, here’s the top ten of how we got to ‘here’ from ‘there.’ Oh, but before I do, I have a disclaimer. Life experience has taught me that the right size of a family is only known by one person. We should never presume to tell folks that they should have more, or less. You never know somebody’s story until you ask. At least that’s my take 🙂
1. During our marriage prep, there was a couple that talked about NFP (Natural Family Planning), i.e. what I believed to be Catholic church propaganda on birth control. I distinctly remember telling Scott that the church had no business telling me what to do in the marital bedroom.
2. Boy and girl got married and said we were open to children, on our terms, of course. I’m pretty sure we added the ‘on our terms’ part. God chuckled, I’m sure.
3. We joined the marriage prep team during our first year of marriage (mind you, we talked about marriage and money!!). And, while talking to the NFP presenting couple, they shared they had five children. I quipped, “Well, I guess it didn’t work!” They replied, “Maybe we wanted five!” Looked for nearest black hole to climb into, but it was unavailable.
4. Scott and I travelled to Italy with 15 teenagers from youth group. We came back with a souvenir, Will, all on our terms and according to ‘the plan.’ Boy and girl were very, very happy. God smiled again.
5. We joined another marriage prep team when we moved from Iowa to Indiana and were introduced to the amazing Mike and Denise. Their very real witness as to why they practiced NFP and were open to children – always – worked on our hearts. It took two years and four presentations for that witness to really sink in.
6. When Will was 10 months, we completed the NFP class. Boy and girl felt very smug about taking the class because, you know, we still had ‘our plan’ and were thrilled that it was God’s plan, too.
7. We went to Italy again, same pilgrimage, different kids. Came back with another souvenir. Nine weeks later, I miscarried the baby. Definitely not our plan. The heartache and pain was unimaginable. Tiny bit frustrated with God that we were doing what He asked, yet I still miscarried. Oh, I was young and naive 🙂
8. We struggled with secondary infertility and finally, after a long journey, had John Paul. Totally remember telling Scott that we were done. No more children. God surely doubled over in laughter.
9. Anna-Laura was our surprise and arrived just 16 months after John Paul. Infertility you say? God and the saints were chuckling now.
10. I endured major spine surgery yet we took the leap of faith and had two more children, Clare and Luke. Can you imagine how different our life would’ve been had we not taken that leap? This is why living in a world of “would’ve’s” is counter-productive.
To those who say, “How can you love five children adequately?” I say, you’ve never had five children. Before I converted to Catholicism, I really thought the church wanted moms to have babies until eternity. Then, I came to understand this teaching fully and realize that it’s not the number of children we have, it’s the ability to be open to life, always. Letting God lead us to the perfect size family. For us.
Because really, take a look around your house. Which child would you send back?