Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out of the minivan

Wouldn't you know, on the heels of dealing with two of the most unpleasant issues facing any family, let alone a large one, I received an email from another blog friend who just found out she is expecting their fifth. She is wrestling with some of the same emotions I did when we found out we were suddenly catapulted into non-PC family size.

In her words:
Five seems so much bigger than four (the minivan won't cut it anymore) and it feels like we have definitely moved into the "LARGE FAMILY" bracket....with no one else I know having above four. Will we ever get invited anywhere again!?!? :)
Now, I would argue that no matter how many children you have (even if you have none), adding just one to the mix of your current family can seem a daunting, maybe even insurmountable, task. I'm quite sure I had the most trouble adjusting to the first child, hands down!

But I do remember feeling as my friend did, particularly by the time I got to the fifth: I could "feel" people's eyes on us - watching us like a circus sideshow - counting: one, two, three, four...FIVE? Imagining what they might be saying, "Are they all hers?" Or, "Aren't there already enough children in the world?" Or, when one slipped by without the "fashion check" at the door: "See, she can't even dress them properly!"

I got used to the shocked silence and snide comments when I told others our news (people can be so unthinking and rude). Are you going to have any more? Or, Don't you know what causes this? Mostly, though, people seemed to feel sorry for me: "Oh, wow. Five. Sheesh, girlfriend!"

This didn't help. I already had lots of fears about how I would manage. I can't even get the laundry done with four. Getting out of the house takes me two hours as it is. How will I ever do it with five? I struggled, wondering how we would stretch a single paycheck to feed, clothe, and care for another little person, who would grow into a big person needing braces and a college education some day. I worried about my parenting. My patience is stretched already. How on earth will I be able to love and nurture another eternal soul?

And yet...

Even though five was not in our human plan, God knew. What a comfort that was for me! At any given moment, my emotions ranged from extreme elation to deep depression. But I held on to the truth of God's Word:
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

Somewhere in eternity past, God had thought of this little one, and, in His infinite wisdom, He decided to place her here, in our family.

And somehow, I - flawed, inadequate, unlikely - was chosen to be a part of this child's story.

Now, almost five years later, I am steeled to comments about our family's size. I am resigned to the fact that money will always be tight for us. That getting us all out of the house is still something nigh unto an Act of God. I still struggle with patience, laundry, and disorganization. I agonize over every parenting decision. And I am used to the fact that a minivan is too small for us.

But when I look at our fifth child - the ray of sunshine that she is - I'm not looking at all that. Honestly, I just can't imagine how anyone could possibly feel sorry for me.

I am abundantly, overwhelmingly, and resoundingly blessed.


Bekah said...

Blessed! YES! Blessed, you are! God is good and His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts wiser, too. Praises for that:) Lovely post. My sentiments, exactly:)

se7en said...

I totally love being blessed with se7en. The hardest part is always what other people think not to mention say!... but me and our kids count ourselves rich and thank God for His Goodness. I couldn't imagine a moment of any day without anyone of them!

Mothership said...

When people ask how many children I have, I often reply, "Oh, just the five." They do not know how to respond.

Still, when we are all filing out of the door of the van, I feel like the circus clown car--they just keep coming!

Love your blog.

Sarah said...

I came across your blog and it's such an encouragement! Of course, I am only expecting our fourth... but we've ended up here in a rather unconventional way and have managed four kids in only two years of marriage. YIKES! Some days I wonder how we're going to do adding another little one to the bunch. Most days I try not to think about it! I guess we'll find out in six weeks :) Thanks for your honesty - it's refreshing and inspiring!

blessedmama752 said...

You have touch my heart. You are blessed, truly blessed of God. God knows what He is doing when he place a blessing in our lives. To us it may seem over whelming but in the end that blessing is truly amazing. I know how you feel my
7 are a handful, especially when they hit teens years. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. Thanks! We've decided to stop at four kids (unless God has other plans, of course) but I'm still a bit sad about that...

Beck said...

This was WONDERFUL. I really am shocked by how anti-child many people are - even with just our three, we hear so many shocked comments. Most families we know have three kids, so I don't know where the shock comes from - I think it's just a deeply ingrained horror at the idea of having more than the ordained two kids....

Aimee said...

teary :)

YOU have blessed me!

mholgate said...

It is so refreshing to hear people talk about what a blessing 5 or more children are! Just today in church I had another "five, wow!" comment. I know they probably didn't mean anything by it. I just smile and say "yes, and I am blessed by each and every one of them!"

Congratulations to your friend! : )

Jill said...

A few months ago I saw this very large family at church. I counted their children 1..2..3..4..FIVE! Oh, wait, we have five too ;o)
That's not so big.

the funky mom said...

Wonderfully written! My husband and I have 4, and we are in prayer over adding more to our family. It's amazing how my friends with the standard 2 think I'm crazy for even thinking about it. But you reminded me, like you always do, that it's His plan from way back.
four with hopes for more...

Susanne said...

What a lovely post!

Ginger said...

Amen, Amen, AMEN!!! All of it... the comments, the looks, the wondering how on earth we're going to make it, and the how will I have enough love/time/patience to go around?,.... I was so embarrased buying the pregnancy test with my 3 little ones in tow. And looking at my #3 and #4 unplanned babies, I am SO thankful for them! Wouldn't trade them for the wide world.

Debbie said...

Katherine, you bless me so much. I have not been on very much lately, so I had much catching up to do today. You have me teary. I look at my 5 and ask myself how would I ever do without any one of them. They are all precious gifts from God.

We are all still squishing into the minivan though (I call it the sardine can), and have been talking about a SUV for me. Sheesh. Yes, we do get the comments about having 5, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

God bless you.