As my husband and I were leaving church with our six children yesterday, we met two older ladies who had completely opposite reactions to our family. The first lady said, “You have a beautiful family. But I have to ask you, how do you do it?”
I gave my stock answer that I give to anyone who comments on the size of our family: “Oh, it’s a lot of fun.”
But she did not respond the way I expected. “It’s a lot of WORK, buddy!” she stated emphatically, with a nod towards my husband.
The second lady we saw responded to the sight of our family quite differently. “You remind me so much of our family,” she told us nostalgically. “We had seven sons. Now we have 12 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.” We congratulated her, and she advised us, “Enjoy your children while they’re young. They grow up incredibly fast.”
I am willing to bet that the first lady that we talked to did not have seven children. In fact, my guess is that she has no more than two or three at the most. Yet she was quick to point out the amount of work that a large family entails. In fact, her reaction implied that our children were burdens, while the second lady saw them as precious treasures that leave all too soon.
I don’t think their reactions are all too surprising. When we think of having a number of children, the thoughts that first come to mind are the diaper changes, the piles of dishes, and the loads of laundry that all those children will require; the fights that will need to be broken up; the shoes that will need to be tied, the temper tantrums that will need to calmed. We realize all too easily that the work will be multiplied with each additional child, but what we too often forget is that the love and joy are multiplied, too. We forget that a few extra socks in the wash don’t require a whole extra load of laundry, but the person who wears them brings a whole new perspective and personality to our family. We forget that the little toddler can have his shoes tied by an older sibling, and that the sight of the older child learning responsibility and gentleness as he cares for the toddler will absolutely melt our hearts.
Yes, with a large family, there are more diapers to change, more dishes to wash, more laundry to fold, but there are also more people to do all these things together, singing, talking, laughing and praying while we do them.
The lady who had seven sons knew this. But the other lady did not. Some things you have to see firsthand to believe or take on trust. Unfortunately, the world around us doesn’t seem very willing to take the joys of a family on trust. But ask the mothers who have had a lot of children, and they will tell you.
They wouldn’t do it over again any differently.