I am excited to share this guest post written by Cherylyn. She is a powerful force for good in the birth blogging world, and I’m happy to know her. Cherylyn is a mom of six who’s figuring it out as she goes. She’s a birth doula, aspiring midwife, and author of the Mamas and Babies blog and its accompanying pages on Facebook and Google +. –Lani
“You’ve got your hands full!”
That’s the most common thing I hear when I’m out with my kids. Even if I only have the youngest three or four with me. Maybe it’s because they’re fairly close in age, or maybe it’s the sight of me with a baby on my chest in the wrap and one on either side of me holding my hand. Sometimes I have all six kids with me, and that’s when people simply stare.
Even in Utah where “big” families are more common than in other areas, the socially acceptable number of children seems to be getting smaller. Growing up in California with five siblings, we were stared at and people would ask my parents if we were all theirs, and “How many children do you have?!” Still, to me, it was normal. It was what I knew, and life was good. I wanted that for my own children.
We never talked about how many children we would have. My husband and I both came from what society would consider big families, and we had an unspoken desire to have a big family as well. We wanted our children to have the companionship of many siblings and the joy of a loving family. We also desired to follow the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.”
My husband’s ongoing struggle with chronic illness interfered with work, finances, and daily functions in general. We couldn’t plan for a large family without feeling an intense burden and wondering how we would ever manage to get by from day to day, let alone from month to month or year to year. He often felt overwhelmed just providing for and taking care of each child we had, and couldn’t imagine having more. At times he expressed a desire to be “done” and relieve the ever-increasing burden he felt as a father to provide for his family. I felt strongly there were more spirits waiting to come to our family, and I listened to his concerns and continued to pray and seek the Lord’s will and wait patiently. We took it one child at a time.
We’ve been blessed with tender mercies along the way. While pregnant with our fourth, a voice spoke to me, whispering “Don’t forget about me,” and a child’s spirit has appeared to my husband more than once. We felt the presence of another child who wasn’t here yet, sometimes in a dream, sometimes just a comforting feeling that she was there. Many times I would count heads, counting everyone, and feel as though we were still missing someone. Each time a child was born, we knew that waiting spirit had not yet come. Even after two miscarriages, we prayed and felt we should keep trying. She still hasn’t come, and we look forward to the day she’ll join our family. I think we’ll know when that time comes.
When I’ve felt overwhelmed by life, I’ve found myself on my knees, asking the Lord to bless us with the means to provide for the children He’s sending us, temporally and spiritually. We’ve not been disappointed. Despite ongoing challenges, our needs are always met. I find that when we follow His direction we are in turn given access to blessings to help us with what we’ve been asked to do. As our family increases in size, so does our faith, and we feel encouraged to move forward.
We enjoy our children every day. There’s a chaos to six children under 12, and yet a peace and joy to it as well. We find our parenting and lifestyle have changed to better suit our growing family, and we’re enjoying the journey. Our family is our top priority and most treasured blessing.
I find if my focus is on my family, most of the time I don’t even notice if someone is staring. Even when the judgmental comments come, I’m able to shrug it off because I realize that they simply don’t understand my perspective and the gratitude I have to the Lord for blessing me with a quiver full. I know these days will pass and I’ll miss watching them grow and learn. I’m told I’ll even miss the diapers and laundry.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalms 127:3)
I love having my hands full.