Not All Families Are Created Equal

At least not on the minor things.

Some of us homeschool, some send our kids off for their academic eduations. Some cook homemade meals every night from scratch, some rely on frozen chicken nuggets. Some have 2 children, others 20.  Regardless, all of us good ones (despite our differences on many things) love our children. There are some parents out there who are incapable of being  good parents because of lack of love for their children, but the vast majority are not that way.

As I read about Simcha’s blessed good news I was reminded of that. I was also reminded, once again, of the discrimination on both sides of both large and small families, particularly within the Catholic church, but outside of it as well. When Shelby happened to be a girl, and Joey was a boy a lot of people told me I had “a matching set” and my family was “complete.” Says them, HA! I don’t listen to “them” when it comes to my family size.

When we announced our pregnancy with Will, we received a lot of puzzling responses from some people closest to us. Many assumed it was an “unplanned” pregnancy (it was not, for the record we were actively trying in hopes for—pause for shock and visual of mouth agape and hand slapped to cheek—a baby!). Many more just went on and on about the burdens of more than two children—such as being outnumbered. And then there were the ones I like to call the “ignorant autism people.” Shelby was diagnosed with autism a month before Will was conceived. Many people came to the conclusion that because Shelby is autistic, we should stop having children. As if. The two people MOST excited about that pregnancy were my grandmothers who just saw it for what it was, love of a new human life that we were incredibly blessed to be charged with. While I wasn’t expecting a baby shower for a third child, I had hoped people would adopt the attitude of my grandparents instead of assuming this baby was “no big deal.” And when, at five months, his life was in danger, a lot of people changed their tunes. I suddenly had people who were blaming me personally for overpopulating the world telling me repeatedly how much they were praying. This life wasn’t so sacred to them less than a year ago, but now, now that it was in danger of leaving them, it was the most precious thing they could see.

No, I’m not announcing a fourth pregnancy (how I wish I were in light of the tone of this post thus far). But I am announcing that we would love a fourth child. That we WANT a fourth child. But it is not our choice whether we are given a fourth or fifth or subsequent child by way of birth or adoption (something we have never ruled out). It’s up to God. Yes, family size is up to God. Arwen Mosher  (and congrats to her on her new twin baby boys!) has an excellent idea I’ve read on her blog about NFP. It’s that in NFP, each of the spouses gets a vote but God casts the deciding vote. And that is where my family finds itself now.

Giving something like fertility up to God’s will is extremely difficult. When I was unable to conceive, I learned it firsthand. When Will was eight months old and I was working nights, had Shelby in school, my husband was out of work and had another child to care for as well, I knew that giving up fertility to God’s will could mean another baby when we had neither the financial resources or the physical ones it seemed, I found it difficult to accept that as well. God saw we could not bear it, and He did not send a baby then. Now we are in a holding pattern which is equally as nerve wracking as the first two situations. We would love another child, but we have also been forced to find it in our hearts to accept that it may be God’s will that our family is complete.

Complete! But how can that be? I can already hear the people I refer to as the “Duggar Catholics” (the bigger the family the closer to heaven!) chiming in. No family can be complete with just three! I didn’t say it was, but God might. And we will accept it, if it comes to be, as we have our other fertility crosses, prayerfully and respecting that God knows what He’s doing better than we ever can. We were blessed beyond measure with one child, each additional child has just increased that. And they will continue blessing us for the rest of this life whether it be just the three we have now or some larger number.

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