A few months back, I told you how to raise eight children without even trying. Today, I’m going to tell you why I never should have had eight children in the first place. Had I listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.
When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough “mommy material” for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business – no business! — having another baby. Not now, not ever.
All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it*:
I can’t cook.
I can’t grocery shop.
I can’t bring the kids out alone without help.
I have nooooo patience.
I am not crafty in the least.
I can’t sew.
I can’t throw a party.
I’m not athletic or outdoorsy.
I don’t know how to make a pretty home.
I don’t know how to make anything fun.
I am lazy and a procrastinator.
I’m used to being served, not serving.
I am sarcastic and cranky.
I am a complainer.
I like to be alone.
I hate to be interrupted or inconvenienced.
I am not particularly good with children.
In that moment, I knew all of these things. And I was discouraged. Any one of these reasons could be enough for a woman to convince herself that it’s imprudent to have another child. In fact, you might just be saying to yourself now, “My gosh, that Bubble woman shouldn’t have one child, much less eight!”
But see, there’s the thing: Moms of big families are told constantly by other women that “I couldn’t do what you do!” or “You must have so much patience!” or “You must have a real way with children!” They think we were given a special gift or have a mutant gene that they do not possess. But they have no idea how much we are just like them. In fact, most of the women who say those things to me are better suited to raise a large family than I.
As I stood there in the kitchen that night, a moment of grace overtook the moment of discouragement. How many times had I told others, “Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!” I remembered it then, and my fears and anxieties were banished. Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core, would taunt me with the notion that my lack of gourmet skills should preclude new life in my marriage. I saw the evil of it then, and I called him out. I still cussed a lot back then, and I am pretty sure I told the devil what he could do with his putrid flood of discouraging thoughts. Yeah, that was a good moment.
Since that day, five eternal souls have been created in our family, four of whom my husband and I have the privilege of raising on this earth. And, while I can’t claim to have conquered all the deficiencies and vices on my list (not even close! drat!), the existence of all my children has moved me along the path of holiness. Because that’s how it works: The souls in your life are gifts, each of whom is meant to sanctify you in a particular way. My little sanctifiers are the artisans who change and mold me in all the ways God knows I need, and they are their father’s and their siblings’ artisans, too.
That my family exists as it does is living proof that “with God, all things are possible” — even Leila Miller mothering eight great kids.