What I’d Like For You To Know: A Mom Of Many

WhatidlikeWelcome to part four of the What I’d Like For You To Know series.  Today we’ll be hearing from from Jenni of One Thing, one of the most delightful bloggers I know.  She is the mom of 12 kids, ages 3 months to 21 years, and I’ve asked her to address some of the assumptions made about people with large familes.  As always, she has written with great grace and humor.  You’re going to love her.

It is quite an honor and a bit of a worry to be speaking on behalf of large families everywhere.  More than anything, my prayer is that what I say will be heard with discernment and a hefty helping of salt. I don’t want to give the impression that my opinions are some sort of collective consciousness shared by all those with a veritable tribe under their roof. That said, however, I hope at least some of it will resonate!

First, and perhaps most obviously, many people with larger families encounter negative attitudes almost daily. Snide comments from strangers, nosy questions about their private lives, or unsupportive extended family all combine to make the members of a big family feel more like a circus side-show than legitimate members of society. The announcement of a new pregnancy is very often not met with joy, but with condemnation (if you are on the receiving end of such an announcement, be the exception and offer a simple congratulations).  I could compile quite a list of all the obnoxious things that have been said to those of us with a passel of young’uns, but I’d rather not go off on that tangent. You’ll just have to take my word for it that for many people, there does not appear to be any sort of regulatory gizmo betwixt their brains and their mouths. Yet I persist in believing that it’s really not that difficult to be kind, or at the very least, silent!

Along those same lines, it often seems that families with lots of children are viewed with a more critical eye than those with the standard two. If a child acts up, it is of course because they come from such a large family and obviously don’t get enough attention. If their clothing is threadbare, it is because the parents must be financially strapped. If the baby has a dirty face, it is apparent that no one cares enough to clean it. Whereas  a smaller family might be given the benefit of the doubt (all children throw tantrums at times, like to wear one item of clothing until it consists of three strands, and smear food upon their faces), for the larger family it becomes an opportunity to criticize. A mother pregnant with her second child is offered sympathy as she struggles with morning sickness and fatigue, but ask a mother pregnant with her fifth if she was offered any. This makes it difficult, even in a church setting, for those parents to share any difficulties they are having. I personally struggle with painful varicose veins that are aggravated during pregnancy. However, asking for prayer has sometimes been met with the attitude that such are my “just desserts” and so why would God heal me? I suspect the same attitude crops up when rebellious children, or money woes, are the issue.

Parents of large families are not out to prove anything. We’re not vying for your admiration, we aren’t trying to win any awards, we don’t view childbearing as some sort of contest (someone asked my husband during our last pregnancy if we were trying to “beat the Duggars”), and we don’t think you’re less spiritual than we are if you have fewer than we do. We aren’t asking anyone for special treatment, but it doesn’t seem too much to ask for common courtesy. Resist the urge to count out loud as you see us go by. Don’t marvel that we do, in fact, know all of our offspring’s names (even—given a minute or two—their birthdates)! And for the love of all the little green men on Mars, don’t ask us if we know what causes that. We do. And we enjoy it, although not as often as is (oddly) assumed.

Almost as difficult to deal with, in a way, are the effusively positive attitudes. Yes, this seems like a really strange thing to say in light of the previous paragraph, but having to decline imminent canonization is not pleasant. People who squeal, gush, flatter and insist that I must be, I simply MUST BE the most patient/organized/disciplined/loving/spiritual being ever to walk the earth wear me out. I have stopped volunteering the information regarding the numbers of my offspring mostly due to these reactions. I don’t have time to field a barrage of OMG!’s from the checkout lady at Wal-Mart while my ice cream melts. Plus, I don’t think it wins me any friends in the line behind me.

Please don’t put me on a pedestal. Honestly, it’s really lonely up there. We are called to be iron sharpening iron to one another, and in order to do that we have to be able to get close to somebody. When the comments run along the lines of “You’re my hero!” and “I could NEVER do what you do! You’re a saint!” I have to wonder what, exactly, the commenters think I am doing that gives me that status. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just a woman trying to do her best with the family God has given her, and I deeply value the support of friends who don’t expect me to have all the answers. You might be surprised to learn that the average mom-to-a-gob lives her days in much the same way as you do: she gets up, sees what needs doin’, and does it. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

On behalf of my children, I’d like to encourage people to try to focus on them as individuals. It ‘s easy to let your eyes glaze over when confronted by their sheer mass, but often it seems to surprise people when they discover that my children are actually different from one another. At some point, it seems a given that any child after three or four is simply going to be a carbon copy of one of the preceding progeny. If you know children who belong to a simply humongous family, make their day by assuming they each have singular personalities. Even saying things like “Aw! You guys look all alike!” makes them feel like they are clones, or part of the Borg. Get to know them! You might be amazed at how diverse they really are.

In the end, what I’d like for you to know is probably not that much different than what anyone else would say: when in doubt, extend grace. Grace is the Melanie Wilkes to the world’s Scarlett O’Hara: it believes the best even when it doesn’t understand, and is humble enough not to insist on explanations. I don’t know of a single situation where it wouldn’t be welcome!

You can read more of Jenni’s posts at One Thing.

159 thoughts on “What I’d Like For You To Know: A Mom Of Many

  1. Deal Seeking Mom says:

    Loved your post, Jenni! We have five, ages six and under, and we often get the, “You know what causes that,” comment as well. I just smile and nod and say, “Yep, I do, and I’d say we’re pretty good at it, too!” It’s usually enough to shock them into silence. 😉

  2. suburbancorrespondent says:

    I always tell people it is way easier with more than with less. It confuses them (although it is true most of the time!). And you should try having a disaffected adolescent girl as part of the mix and listening to people say, “But of course! All those younger siblings, poor dear!” Because, as we know, teens in 2-children families never become moody and alienated.

  3. Shannon Miller says:

    Great post! We “only” have four so far but we already deal with some of this. I love, love, love the Melanie Wilkes reference. I think we all need to be a little more like Melanie!

  4. Beth (A Mom's Life) says:

    I have found that children in larger families tend to be more well-behaved than children in smaller families.
    Thanks for a great post. I hope to remember all these points next time I run across a large family.

  5. Mamacita says:

    Very well said! I am the eldest of eight and it’s amazing how many people assume very negative and wrong things about our family. Our family is a blessing! I may not have near as many kids, but who knows?
    The BEST part is now that three of my brothers are married, there are eight of us within a 5-year span (four original kids and four in-laws). It’s a built-in group of friends who love you and care for you – how cool is that?!?!?

  6. Mamacita says:

    Very well said! I am the eldest of eight and it’s amazing how many people assume very negative and wrong things about our family. Our family is a blessing! I may not have near as many kids, but who knows?
    The BEST part is now that three of my brothers are married, there are eight of us within a 5-year span (four original kids and four in-laws). It’s a built-in group of friends who love you and care for you – how cool is that?!?!?

  7. Jane says:

    Thank you for sharing this. We have six and are expecting our seventh through an adoption. I have experienced every.single.one of the things you mentioned, and then some when people find out some of our children are adopted, or that I homeschool. It simply adds to the idea that my husband and I belong to one two radical fringe groups–saints or freaks. A little less judgment and a lot more graceful charity would go a long way.
    God Bless!

  8. Pamela says:

    It was delightful to see you here. I have been following your blog for several months now, and I have to admit, part of the reason I love it is because I feel like I can gawk at a woman with 12 kids and not feel awkward. Your sense of humor kills me and the love you have for each and every one of your beauties is inspiring.
    Thanks for the great insight.

  9. Karen says:

    Jenni, I loved this post. I’m a mom of five and have never felt like I have a “big” family, but regularly get wide-mouthed stares when people ask how many I have. I don’t have any religious conviction about having a large or small family – it just happened this way and we’re thankful for the children we have. God always knows what He’s doing, whether giving us many or few. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  10. Michelle says:

    I admire you for “putting it out there” so to speak. I believe children are a blessing, and whether we have 1 or 15, we should be thankful. God doesn’t make mistakes.

  11. Mom24 says:

    Amen indeed. I have another to add. I hate when people say, ‘Oh, you have a second family’. My children are 24, 16, 8 and 5. We have been married once, to each other, the entire time. I feel like it makes my older children feel ‘less than’ to hear that inane comment. No, we have one family. God just took his time in blessing us with our children.
    I also struggle with guilt for the financial implications of our having 4 children. Should we really not have had our last two because it will make it almost impossible to help with college and pay for a wedding? Because it makes saving for our retirement a near impossible feat right now? I don’t know that answer for other families, but I know I absolutely adore ALL of my children, and I don’t even want to try and imagine my life without any of them. I think we’re done, but if God chooses to call our bluff and bless us with another one, I will be very, very happy.

  12. Memarie Lane says:

    Heck, I get nasty comments like that and I’m only pregnant with my third! When I announced it everyone was saying, “oooh. Are you okay?” “Are you going to keep it?” “Don’t you know what causes that?” Things like that. So rude!
    I’d also curious about practical issues large families face, like where everyone sleeps, how transportation is managed, things like that.

  13. Melanie D says:

    Beautiful post. We have 4 and still got “you do know what causes that, don’t you?” from normally intelligent family and friends, making me want to say, “Whut? Whut causes this?” in my dumbest voice.

  14. GiBee says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. It is uncanny how similar your experiences with many children correlate to the woman experiencing infertility! Rude and tasteless comments, thoughtless conversations and questions…
    I think a couple things really spoke to me… the part where you spoke about it being difficult to share in a church setting any difficulties you are having, whether parenting or pregnancy difficulties.
    Also, when you said “We are called to be iron sharpening iron to one another, and in order to do that we have to be able to get close to somebody.”
    I only have one child (not by choice, but because of infertility issues), and I just want to thank you so much for this post. It is a good eye opener to people who have a good heart and mean well, but somehow end up saying hurtful things.

  15. Sonya says:

    smack dab in the middle of 9, and now that we are growing up and getting married and having kids our family reunions are good times!

  16. Princess Leia says:

    Heh…I’m only working on #2 and _I_ get “you know what causes that…” rather often. Of course #1 got started being knit accidentally (to us) two months after we were married and #2 got started on our first month of ‘not actively preventing,’ but it doesn’t make the comments any more welcome.
    I’m _definitely_ ‘borrowing’ the response from Deal Seeking Mom about being good at it! 🙂

  17. Kirstin says:

    Thanks for the great post. Personally I think it’s awesome no matter how many kids someone has. There are times I wish we had a bigger family (bigger to me might be 4 kids). And times I know my 2 are enough.
    I don’t have a big family and the naysayers drive me crazy.

  18. Marti says:

    Thank you, Shannon, for hosting this. I was hoping this would be one of your topics in this series.
    And thank you, Jenni, for sharing. Having just had our fourth child, we already struggle with some of these things. Thanks also for the reminder to be graceful.

  19. lamitchell says:

    I love the last paragraph of this post. So true… and sadly a lesson for me. As a mom of four, I am one who would find your larger brood amazing, interesting, incredible. I think I find women who can operate sucessfully at triple my capacity really exciting. Thanks for the insight!
    For the record, we mention a 5th and people glaze over. I guess it just comes with the territory.

  20. Lorie says:

    As a mom of four I have experienced much of what you spoke about. Amazing how the world has this “two kid limit” mentality. I can’t believe how much more you deal with it that I do. I was once asked to go to the circus with “friends” and I said we would pass because we were conserving money. She said “That’s why we only have 2 kids, I wouldn’t want to not be able to do things because of how much it would cost to take more kids”. I was so offended that our children would be viewed as a burden to us. Anyway, great post, I enjoyed it.

  21. Grateful for Grace says:

    Thank you. We have six children and everything you said resonated with me. It gets wearing to be confronted with so much negative thoughts towards our family. To me, the most heartbreaking is how often it happens *at church*. Sigh. Anyway, thank you for such gracefilled words.
    Gfg

  22. Respino says:

    Your comments were put beautifully. I am pregnant with number four and just a week ago we were at a Bible camp for the kids. Since the normal number of kids is two here in Lithuania, the mothers I met and already knew were amazed I was trudging along at the campground. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. But the hardest part was probably receiving comments such as “we look up to you” and “you are an inspiration”. Why? What did I do? I have three and 1/2 they have 1 or 2, but it doesn’t mean our job is any more or less difficult.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say, I completely agree with what was said.

  23. Suzanne Eller says:

    Is it okay to confess that I am one of those who can’t help but stare in wonder as a mom with 10 children enters the pizza place? It’s not a cannonization or a negative comment on the number of children, but a mom-to-mom woman-to-woman reaction of “I know that must be hard, but look at you” kind of moment. I now know that this can be misperceived, especially when she receives the comments and judgment you describe. So, what will I do in the future? Comment on the beautiful kiddos sitting around the table, and admire her secretly. : )

  24. J says:

    Oddly enough, I think this is the same syndrome that people with one child face- 2 seems to be the “norm” so people will constantly ask you “so, when is the next one?”. That is so personal and frankly I find it insulting to my one child- if she is the only child I ever have, she is plenty. My family isn’t incomplete if I only have one.
    The other fascinating thing to me about the odd attitudes about “Big” families is that two or three generations ago having 6 or more kids was totally normal.
    And as far as the “dumb” comments people make- I think that 99% of them don’t mean to be hurtful. So let’s extend them some grace as well 😉

  25. Lisa says:

    I have two girls, and I really enjoyed this post. I’m loving this series. Thanks for bringing together such a wide range of guests. I have appreciated learning about such a wide range of issues.

  26. laurazim says:

    Love it, as usual, Jenni. We have *never* had a good response to pregnancy, beginning with our first one together (I brought our eldest daughter to our marriage from a previous relationship; My Darling adopted her a little less than two years into our marriage.), but our second child. 🙂
    With our second, which was immediately after our wedding, for Pete’s sake, it was, “Haven’t you ever heard of birth control?” (Uh, yeah. We chose not to use it. That’s OK, right? We ARE married.) With our third, which we had planned perfectly, according to our NFP charting, it was, “Well I guess that NFP stuff doesn’t work, huh?” (Actually, we got pregnant exactly when the chart said we would. Worked for us!)
    Then there was the desert of secondary infertility. Ironically, we got all kinds of sympathy. When we began investigating adoption (which, sadly, can never be an option for us because we just don’t make enough money for any of the programs we looked into), we had prayers and encouragements from all angles.
    Then we conceived, through an absolute miracle, praise God. Four years of infertility. And the comment this time around was, “You just can’t keep your legs together, can you?” (No comment even possible.) This was from a family member who knew what we had been going through over the preceeding four years. Huh.
    We just didn’t tell anyone about our fifth until we knew we were going to see them in person–since that last comment had been made in front of our other children (who, thanks be to God, had no idea what it meant), we wanted to get it over with to avoid any more uncomfortable moments…….
    For this reason, I LURVE both our homeschool group (we are a smallish family in our group!) and the LOK TTC/PG forum, and the LOK site in general.
    Thanks for your candor, Jenni, and your wisdom–and your tact. It’s very meaningful to lots of us!!

  27. Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am just a couple weeks away from delivering my fourth child under the age of four, and it seems like everyone has a comment about the ages of our kids, or our “rabbit-like breeding.” It does get old and frustrating. Thank you for the encouragement.

  28. Teresa G says:

    I love the name of this blog – Rocks in my dryer. I thought of that name the other day when I pulled a pen out of my dryer and walked away before I screamed at all the ruined whites!
    Great post Jenni – I’ve never read you before, but as a mom of 9 I think I’ll pop over. I love funny people; reading something humorous can keep me happy all morning.
    And Mom24, who commented about feeling a bit of guilt at the financial implications of having many kids…..I agree with you, that each family has to make that decision for themselves. But I am sure that all four of your kids and all nine of mine would MUCH rather be given the gift of life, even if it doesn’t include a college education, than having never been born simply because we can’t afford to pay for all of their college or wedding. Don’t fret over that! Your kids have life and your love. Like a lot of kids, they will find a way to make a college education work.

  29. Tracy says:

    great post ~ very well said!
    One time, a lady brought us dinner after the birth of our 6th and we asked if she wanted to see the baby. “No, you’ve seen one L… baby, you’ve seen them all”

  30. Beck says:

    We only have three and WE HEAR RUDE COMMENTS about how many kids we have! I can’t imagine how many more comments we’d hear if we had even more kids.

  31. Jane Anne Owen says:

    When I shared I was pregnant this last time I had friends joke about knowing a good doctor for my husband. I felt like I had to explain that the pregnancy was not an accident. This was a wonderful post! It made me think…convicted me a bit. Thank you for your words. I will carry “When in doubt, extend grace” with me.

  32. Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings says:

    Bravo!
    As a mother of 7 myself (yes all from my womb) I get questions, stares, comments (rude and none alike) mainly because my oldest is 20 and there is a 10 year gap between her and my next child. Then there are “stair steps” from there down.
    I understood where your post is coming from and like Smockity Frocks comment, I was nodding my head through the entire post while thinking “yep, had that happen. yep, been there.”
    Have you also noticed that larger families navigate toward one another? I notice it with us.

  33. Jamie (Ohbecareful!) says:

    Great peice, Jenni!
    As a mother of two, it always surprises me to hear how many negative comments large families receive – especially from people who should be the most supportive. I think that given what you encounter on a regular basis, you did a wonderful job of giving others a glimpse into the lives of a large family without giving way to feelings of resentment, extending the same grace you so gently ask for to others.
    Well done.

  34. CMartin21 says:

    Wonderful post, Jenni. I came from a family of 2 children, my husband from a family of 4. We only have 2 adorable little girls who arrived after many years of believing that it wasn’t God’s plan for us to have children. I’ve been on the end of many snide, nosy comments as well, what with having been married 16 years before our first daughter was born. I’ve come to realize that no matter what you do, there are always people who feel the need to make critical, unkind comments and although their intent may not be to cause pain, many times it does. I’ve always been a little jealous of large families…I think it would be great to have get-togethers with a whole bunch of cousins running around playing together. God bless you and your family. Thanks for writing.

  35. Katy says:

    I have 5 and we are a blended family, so I wince a little when people ask me if they’re all mine. We have custody of my 2 step-daughters and yes! They’re mine! And to the question, “Do you know what causes that?” I say, “Yes, and he’s really good at it.” That usually shuts them up. Thanks for your great post!
    Katy
    http://mynutvillage.com/

  36. Blessed says:

    I’m the oldest of 4 by 10 years (I was an early accident… anyway) and I watched my parents deal with many of the same issues. We only have one and I hope to have 1 more, but I admire any parent that loves their kid(s) and works hard to raise them right.
    Thanks for the great post.

  37. Tiffanie says:

    Hubby and I are expecting # 4 in September. Our oldest is six. It was difficult when our announcement was met with the condemnation rather than congratulations that you described. The “do you know how this happens” question really bugs me too (as if we seriously don’t know). I can just imagine the reaction if we are blessed with a fifth. Good thing we are living for Him and not the approval of others. And how sad when new life is not met with complete joy!
    Thanks for the post!

  38. Tiffanie says:

    Hubby and I are expecting # 4 in September. Our oldest is six. It was difficult when our announcement was met with the condemnation rather than congratulations that you described. The “do you know how this happens” question really bugs me too (as if we seriously don’t know). I can just imagine the reaction if we are blessed with a fifth. Good thing we are living for Him and not the approval of others. And how sad when new life is not met with complete joy!
    Thanks for the post!

  39. Chelsey says:

    I’m not a mom, but I’m one of three girls, and now that I’m reading all these blogs of people with large families, I wish that I had more siblings!

  40. Sue says:

    Jenni, I really enjoyed reading that. I grew up with 6 sisters and 3 brothers, and I can affirm that even as an older sister similar questions were asked and now as a mother of five, I get similar questions. Your family is beautiful and a pleasure to read about.

  41. Mandy says:

    I think this is wonderful. If I could afford it I would have a dozen! Last week a new physician to my office came in with his very pregnant wife and their 7 children. Everyone kept making comments they thought were funny calling them the Van Trap (sp?) family, etc. I could just see the look on his wife’s face and I wanted to knock everyone else out. I waited until they cleared out and I just simply said Congratulations on the new baby. We didn’t even know you guys were exoecting again. She got almost a surprised look on her face and said “thank you so much. It seems after the 4th or 5th, people stop congratulating you, but I am as excited about this one as I was my first and second!” I think sometimes people can be kind of ignorant to situations unlike their own. Exactly why this series is so awesome! Great post. Thank you for sharing!

  42. Katy Lin says:

    wonderful post! and delightful to read! i’m hoping for a big family (like 4 kids, lol!) and have many friends with more than 5, and i’ve heard many of the same sentiments from them! one poor woman gets the “are they ALL yours” question – which makes me want to blow a gasket!

  43. Octamom says:

    A mom of eight here–love the post! I too have had the deep theological/sexual reproduction/state of my ovaries/do we have a tv discussions in the line at Wal-Mart. One of my friends who has 9 has come up with a great line:”Are you asking me this because you want to learn something or because you want to tell me something?” Overall, people are really precious and kind about our big family…but we’ve had some doosies of some questions as well, things I would never think to ask a total stranger….
    Great to ‘meet’ ya!
    Blessings!

  44. Tanager Polowchak says:

    Just a little comment for mom24, who worries about paying for college and weddings. I come from a family of five kids on a preacher’s salary (another good “What I’d Like for You to Know” topic). My parents couldn’t afford to pay for any of our college or weddings. What did we do? We earned money and paid for it ourselves. It made everything worth something to us because we worked hard for it. Life hasn’t been handed to us on a silver platter, and I think we’re the better for it.

  45. Tami says:

    Great job, Jenni! My husband and I have 6 children, and we have received our fair share of negative comments. My all-time favorites have to do with particular religions. I have been asked, “Are you ______ or _______.” I just smile and say, “No, I am just blessed.”
    I have been asked at Wal-mart if I have been married more than once. And I was asked if they are all ours.
    A few weeks ago, a new family in our church asked if we had a boys’ home. Well, sort of, we have 5 boys, but they are ours.
    My poor daughter has been asked if my littlest ones are hers. (She is 17.)
    As a person who was adopted, I cherish my children even more. They are my only known blood relatives. I am open to adopting, if God places that in our lives.
    Have a blessed day! Tami

  46. Organizing Mommy says:

    thanks.. I think what you had to say was very helpful and informative. We ONLY have 5– a medium-sized family, but we sometimes get the large family type of comments as well as gushing. Either way, I have RESPECT for those who are able to handle a bigger family. It is much harder to be patient and selfless with more little ones.

  47. Colleen says:

    I’m second oldest of 8, and my husband and I have 4. I’ve heard it all too. The “you know what causes that, don’t you?” makes me want to scream I’ve heard it so often. Our children are quite spread out (16, 13, 6 and 2) and people always ask me if it’s my second marriage. Then they get this flabbergasted look on their face when I tell them no, they’re all from the same husband!
    One thing that really bothered me as a child was that church members couldn’t be bothered to learn all our names. We were the ‘older girls’, or ‘the boys’, or the ‘little ones’….and they would openly say they couldn’t keep our names all straight there were so many of us. People didn’t see us as individuals. That would be my two cents….take five minutes and learn the names.
    Thanks for sharing, Jenni!

  48. Lesley says:

    First off, I love your blog!! :0) I found it through this site awhile ago and have been a frequent visitor since.
    I am a mom of 4, all two years apart. I remember all the comments I used to get and I remember how it made me bone weary. However, amidst all the “Are they all yours?” and “Are you going to have more?” I remember one little comment that a genetleman said to me. I was getting the kids out of the Suburban to go into the store and this guy says, “Are they all yours?” I wearily said “yes”. He then looked at me and smiled and said , “That’s great!! God bless you!”. I literally made my day!!
    That was over 10 years ago and I still smile when I remember that conversation. :0)

  49. jennielynn says:

    I know a few larger than average families from church and I will tell you on the whole, their kids are better behaved than mine. I think you are wonderful, but not because you have many children. Your writing is so full of humor, love and grace that it inspires me and feeds my soul.

  50. Mrs. F says:

    This is such an enjoyable series. Thanks.
    Jenni-What a well written post, I promise not to do a head count of your children if I ever see you all out and about (PEOPLE REALLY DO THAT??????? Geez!)…

  51. Heather says:

    I just started reading Jenni’s blog and I love her! Their family doesn’t seem any different than what we all consider to be a “normal size family”. I personally couldn’t do what she does. I barely have the patients for two. But I commend her for her choices and for speaking out about it. Good post!

  52. Kathy C. says:

    Jenni, that was so well said. Your heart was open and real, I appreciate that.
    I grew up in what I consider a large family, but there were only 6, so we are small in comparison to yours. However, we got our share of stare downs, gushes and questions as all 8 of us loaded into the big blue Dodge van or filled our own pew, or pushed tables together, etc…
    I was only blessed with one child, though my hearts desire was for a large family, so if I meet a woman who is a Mom to many, I am delighted for her, and any new pregnancy should be acknowledged as a joy – a gift.
    Have a blessed day,
    Kathy C.

  53. lovedandamazed says:

    I am the oldest of 13 children and really enjoyed your post! I think the reactions that shock me the most are the ones from people who don’t realize the individual qualities of each child, as you said. Yes, hello. We can tell them apart. They each have their own name, their own personality, their own mischievous nature, their own abilities and limitations, their own laugh, their own preferences. I know my life has been incredibly blessed and shaped by each of my siblings (3 sisters and 9 brothers!) and, should God bless me with a husband of my own someday, I hope He will open doors for me to be a mother of my own brood!

  54. Rebecca says:

    I told a friend on Saturday how “different” her four children were apart from each other. What I MEANT was that they’re different when they’re not “feeding” off each other, NOT that they’re “different” from each other. (Well, of course they are!) But it hadn’t occured to me that she might think I meant anything else.
    Does that make sense?
    Anyway, thanks for the post. I learned a lot.

  55. Jia@ColorMeUntypical says:

    I know many families that are large and I was very enthusiastic about reading this post . . . that was until I realised that I’m one of those people that gawks and says, “You’re my hero.” To them all.
    I especially loved the part about how with many children, small things are looked at as meglect though when there are only one or two they are tossed aside as simple things that children do. I’ve always though that, having friends with many children (or siblings).
    Thank you so much for writing this, truly.

  56. Mary B says:

    Love it! I’m the oldest of 8 and have 7. God Bless my DH for fielding so many of the comments when I was pregnant and moody– saving the world from my less than patient reactions.

  57. Kristin says:

    Well, I don’t think she’s a saint for having a ton of young’uns but I do think you have to be a saint to put up with the comments. I only have 4 and if I hear “boy, you have your hands full” one more time my head may spin and then explode. 🙂 Children are a blessing, period, even numbers 3-infinity!

  58. michellew says:

    I read Rocks In My Dryer all the time. I think this is the very first time I am commenting.
    My initial reaction to reading the little blurb about you that preceded your post was admittedly “Wow 12 kids! What’s up with that?” After reading the post I feel entirely different.
    I have 3 children. Just 3. When I tell people that I might like a 4th (I am 37) they look at me as if I have blood squirting from my eyes. Even my own family. I completely understand the no brain to mouth filter issue.
    Live and let live I say!
    If number 13 is ever to come along, I’ll simply offer you a hearty ‘Congratulations’. Although I’ll still secretly wonder “how the heck does she do it?”

  59. Jennifer, Snapshot says:

    Jenni–This was right on. I am a mom of 2, and know that I’d never be a good mom of many, but I’ve recently become good friends with 3 different families with 6 or 7 kids. And don’t feel badly about the birthdate thing–for some reason I get my son’s day all confuddled all the time.
    Shannon, I’d love to see you feature a similar column from a mom of one. My children are 5 1/2 years apart, and for the first 3 years of my daughter’s life, we thought she might be an “only” (by our choice). We got all sorts of advice and opinions for that one.

  60. Robin ~ PENSIEVE says:

    Cogent, well-reasoned, gracefully expressed, and a gentle mirror held up to expose at times collective ignorance, and at others stereotypes and ignorance.
    Jenni, thank you for helping me to see with a different lens.
    🙂

  61. Doris at Threads of Conversation says:

    That last paragraph is so well written and says so much about how we can judge what we don’t understand, it extends far beyond just your situation.
    Believe it or not, my sister got the “you know what causes that!?” comment on her SECOND, only because of the closeness in her to pregnancies. She took a lot of grief when announcing her pregnancy, which, initially spoiled some of the joy of it. It really is no one’s business but your own family, no matter what the situation.
    Thank you for reminding us all of that!

  62. Ruth Ann says:

    I’ll hold my thanks and praise for this well written article – wouldn’t want to offend with a compliment!

  63. Sarah says:

    Awesome post. My husband and I just had our second child, but we’d like to have at least 6 (he came from a family with 6 kids). I won’t put you on a pedestal, but I still think you’re fabulous for defending large families. I heard a great response once to the negative comments such as “I could never do what you do,” or “I’d go crazy with that many kids.” You can always reply “well, it’s a good thing these children were born to me and not you.”

  64. Tonyia says:

    I have to agree with GiBee. I am amazed at large families sometimes. But my mother was one of 7, and my mother-in-law had five herself (I married the middle child 😀 ).
    But so much of what you said, wow, The Hubby and I are having infetility issues. We’ve been trying for four years, and people tend to say the most thoughtless things “WHY do you want another one?” or “Oh if you borrowed mine you’d change your mind.” Or even, “Well, you just need to do the hibbidy-dibbidy more.” And the best yet, from a co-worker who’s daughter has 4 kids (of course the daughter married a doctor) “How could you POSSIBLY afford to live and care for another child?” We have one already; she’s ten. I was floored when she made that comment. It was distinctly said in a manner implying that only people well off should have more than one.
    AAAHHH!!! So, from a mother to one (and mayble only one according to the Lord), thank you. And you are truly blessed.

  65. Pat says:

    I am the oldest of 8 and as a girl, I was also the live-in mother’s helper. My Mom also had five miscarriages (often at 5 or 6 months along); since I was almost always with her helping with the babies, I heard the hurtful things people would say during these times. “I’ll bet that’s a relief”; “It’s God’s will.” I am nodding my head to all of the things you listed. Although, I will admit, until they got to a certain age, all 5 of my brothers did look alike.)

  66. Bailey says:

    Doesn’t matter how many kids you have or don’t have – you will get comments from other people. We have only one, and we get judged for having only one. I finally stopped being overly sensitive about it, but it took a long time!

  67. Rena says:

    This is truly an intriguing post! I’ve gained a lot of insight.
    I suppose I’ve been fascinated with large families. Not in the “superhero” sort of fascination. I’ve enjoyed watching the Duggars and especially love Jon and Kate Plus 8.
    I’ve tried to learn from them. I found that with the Duggars’ mom, I was so encouraged by her. I felt conviction tugging at me in areas such as teaching my children more of God’s Word (namely, the teens!) and insisting on fine-tuning the consistency of prayer and the reading of the Word. I felt that if she could do this with 16 children, I absolutely do not need to continue making excuses. I watched. I learned. And I often would take notice that there are indeed great benefits to having such a large family. Of course, there are downfalls as well, no doubt. BUT…that is the case with all families. Some people insist on only one child. No doubt, that child may possibly (not definitely) experience some lonliness. But there will be positive aspects of this as well. It’s a decision made by individual families and I totally respect that.
    Of course, Jon and Kate obviously did not plan the outcome of this beautiful family. But they have so gracefully embraced it. And again, I have learned so much.
    I so enjoy watching them. I don’t think of them as simply entertainment. I marvel. I cry, I laugh. I feel like I am right there in their home watching them live and grow and learn.
    And I hope that should I ever have the opportunity to meet them, or you, or anyone else of a large family, that I will remember your words and indeed be kind and gracious.

  68. Superchikk says:

    Thank You! I am the oldest of 7 and still get OMG’s! when people find out how many siblings I have. And my family members used to as me if I needed to tell my parents “what causes that.” Puh-lease.
    Oh, and they are strangely curious about the size family I wish to have.
    It is my firm belief that people’s reproductive lives are their own – and whether they have one or a hundred kids, their family is special. So treat them that way!

  69. Katie says:

    What a shame that you’ve endured so much negativity through the blessing of a huge family! I tend to see society as wanting to be “typical” and being curious about families that have a life different than theirs. There’s an obvious facination with larger families, those with multiples, the wealthy, even married couples who are HAPPY seem to get thrown under the microscope (probably out of jealousy).
    Anything other than 2.3 kids and overcommited schedules with parents living paycheck to paycheck in America seems “different” to most people. What makes me most sad about your post is that even the (seemingly ignorant) comments that people say to try to relate have struck a sore nerve with your family.
    A friend who is pregnant with #8 just posted a similar view point as you have and I guess it just frustrates me that there’s so much judgement going on. I suppose that’s the world we live in, though. Makes me want to hibernate! Thank you for sharing your perspective. I’ll remember to keep my passer-by comments to “what a beautiful family you have” and nothing more from now on!!!

  70. fern says:

    Great post–thank you (from a mom of a small family). I do not understand why people feel the need to express opinions and pass judgement on any kind of family (large or small, multi-ethnic or one ethnic, same sex parents or different sex parents, etc). Don’t they understand that a child in a loving family has the greatest of blessings?
    And aren’t we fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose how we put our families together!
    now I’ll just climb off my high horse…

  71. Ana says:

    I live near the Duggars and I hear comments constantly about them and how big their family is. Snide, rude, unthinkable comments that most of the time dont make any sense. It amazes me sometimes. They arent bad people.
    I personally have 3 of my own and we arent sure if we want any more (we will leave that one up to God’s judgment). I have recieved rude comments as well. Dont you know what causes that yet? seems to be the one used most often. The one that gets me the most is the people who ask the previous question are often the ones who ask if you are going to have more. What’s up with that? Mine are all boys and people ask me if Im going to keep trying for a girl. Oi!

  72. AF says:

    My mom comes from a family of 16 children, and even I get the questions! My favorites is: “Do they all know each other?” Which is somewhat valid considering divorces, etc. but I still chuckle because of course they all know each other! And their birthdates, and their nieces and nephews names, etc.

  73. jen says:

    Jenni, Thanks for sharing this – such a great post! We only have four, but this post made me nod in agreement many times…and laugh a few too!

  74. Loraine says:

    Here in Utah, there are a LOT of large families. My husband is one of seven siblings. His mother was one of the most fantastic, generous, kind- hearted and most of all one of the STRONGEST women I have ever known. She set a wonderful example, and I thank her every day (still, though she’s passed on now) for raising such an amazing man. He credits both his parents for giving him the best childhood humanly possible.

  75. Cassie says:

    I can relate, too, and I am a mom of 3. I want to have more, but I dread the comments I will probably get. I already get a few now-“Oh, you have your hands full!!” I am already thinking that if somebody asks me if we know what causes that I will want to say, “No, we haven’t figured it out yet-can you tell me?” But I don’t think I should do that because I am a Christian, so I will just smile and say, “Yes, we know!” I know a couple who came to our church for a couple of years who had 6 children and everybody was amazed. I know she got all of the comments. But, her kids were the best behaved kids in the church. Mine won’t sit still and listen (ages 7, 5, and 6 months), but they are still young. Nobody wants to volunteer to keep the kids during the church service, minus 6-7 people. It is very hard to keep a 6 month old quiet unless the bottle is in her mouth and I know she doesn’t want it the whole time. Last night, at church, she started “talking”
    just making sounds, and my Mom said she would take her to the back of the sanctuary and you could still hear her. When it was over, I went back and asked if she was alright and my Mom said, “Yes, she was just talking.” Then we go back to get our stuff through all of the people, everyone saying, “She sure was fussy wasn’t she?” “Is she sick?” I had to tell them, “No, she was just talking.” Aaarrrgghh!! Our preacher resigned back in March and after that everyone with children, except me, left to find another church. Me and my husband are the youngest couple in the church now. We felt like leaving ourselves at one point, then I felt like God was telling me not to. We do get other kids from time to time, but I hate that mine are the only ones in our church. Most everyone else is 50 and up. It’s not that bad, I just wish I had more of my age group to talk to. I’m glad I have discovered these blogs so I feel like I’ve made friends right here on the internet!

  76. jen says:

    I love this post!!! My very best friend has eleven children who are all unique and beautiful people! As a mother of five, her insights are so appreciated and it is super fun for me when she asks my opinion. It feels good to not have to have all the answers but to have a wonderful friend who you can bounce ideas with as we both try to navigate this crazy world with these beautiful children that mean more than life itself. I don’t think it matters if you have one child or twenty, they are all different and all require their own kind of love, attetion and discipline. It is just very nice to have close friends to help figure out the way. Thanks for sharing!!!

  77. Ginger says:

    I am so glad you wrote this post. Even though I only have four, I have experienced many of the same things, and I am very sympathetic to those of you with beautiful big families. Thanks for your honesty.

  78. Rhen @yestheyareallmine says:

    Oh my word. I had to read this out loud to my husband. We get all of it so often. As a matter of fact, every time we leave the house.
    I try to be polite and even humorous but sometimes the people can get to you- and I don’t mean our children!!
    Thanks for the great post.

  79. Anonymous says:

    roughly 5 years ago we were boarding a train from Chicago to South Bend when a beautiful mom and dad with 2 year old quints also boarded. The parents had
    t-shirts on that said “we’re glad they are ours also”…..so many people had said to them..”I’m glad they are yours and not mine”

  80. Sonya says:

    Thanks for having this post on your site. As the mother of six I can totally relate to this story!
    The one question that wasn’t mentioned that we get all the time is, “are they all yours?” Please, please, don’t ask large families that question! And don’t drop your jaw as you count the heads. We have large families because we WANT TO! We actually enjoy our kids and we chose them. 🙂

  81. jenna says:

    Shannon,
    I’m loving this series!!
    Jenni,
    So grateful to hear your perspective. I’d like to think I’m one of the more encouraging folks, but we’re never as foot-in-the-mouth-proof as we’d like to think. Thanks for shedding light on some of the shadier areas for me.

  82. Jen says:

    THANK YOU. I only have five, and if I have one more person tell me I’m crazy, or other such thing, I’m going to cry. Some people can be really, really mean. When I was pregnant with my fifth, I was so… not ashamed…but… something… that I couldn’t even tell the people at church.
    One thing I’d add would be to please… don’t shun us. Adam and I are never invited to dinner, either because they don’t want to feed all the kids as well, or they think we can’t get a sitter. We aren’t included in a lot of stuff, simply because there are ‘too many’ of us. It hurts. It makes us feel like outcasts, and that we have no friends.

  83. Jen says:

    Can I add also, please, don’t look at me as if I must have started having children at 16. Having 5 at 28 is not strange. Especially when you have twins in there.

  84. Linda Sue says:

    Jenni “knows me” from her blog – I’m a fan of her poetry, photography and those wonderful ridiculous sounds her baby Xavier makes on video! I am a reformed “anti big family” person – I got educated by being around several families of 5 or more and found I liked the general quirkiness of their interactions. ’nuff said – I neither think the mother of a large family is a s** maniac, slave or mental case – I think she is blessed. Bless you jenni – we love your heart.

  85. Dawn says:

    Jenni, As a mom of 10(biological) children, I too have heard it all!!
    Thank you for reminding others that we truly consider each one a blessing.
    As an only child, I think having a ton of kids is just plain FUN!!
    Dawn

  86. The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino says:

    Shannon, I am LOVING this series. Thank you!
    Jenni, what an awesome post. I just don’t understand why people are so judgemental of those who have large families!!! I see them as such a tremendous blessing. I think, Look! More Christians to help us bless the world and spread the Word! Woo hoo!!!!

  87. Suzville says:

    What an excellent post. I’ve been hit with “so, when are you going to get fixed?” by someone close who shall remain nameless. And then there was that guy in the bulk food store who started talking about overpopulation when he found out I have five. My fantasy hindsight response: “oh, we’re trying to add as many conservatives to the population as possible!”

  88. Elaine says:

    I love your last paragraph with the reference to Scarlett and Melanie!
    Thanks for this post, it was quite eye-opening. I do hope that your children will be treated as the individuals that they are. And that all of you as a family will get the grace you have the right to, just as anyone does.
    I have to say I wouldn’t want your grocery bill though! ; )
    Continued blessings…

  89. Anissa@Hope4Peyton says:

    One of my dearest friends has 8 kids and although I was taken aback at first, I have learned more about how to love my 3 from watching her be an amazing mother to her 8. She has taught me amazing things about patience and commitment, sacrifice and laughter. She is a spectacular mother and if anyone should have 8 children, it would be her. It is not a burden, yet she wrestles with the angst of motherhood that we all do. You are obviously a blessing to your family and you have certainly blessed me today. Thank you so much for sharing.

  90. Bonnie says:

    Thanks! I’ve known several large families, so I appreciated this. My husband and I also want a large family, and get laughing looks or comments when we say so. May God bless you!

  91. Faerylandmom says:

    I only have four kids, and I still have the “I don’t know HOW you do it! You must be amazing!” comments all the time.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

  92. Meg in OZ says:

    AMEN SISTER!!!!!!
    I heartily agree with everything you’ve written, especially the extreme reactions between the pedestal and horror, accompanied by rude remarks. I commend you for the gracious way you wrote this, as it would be far easier to rant about all the many ways it can be difficult to have a large family, rather than offering constructive advice.
    We have 6 kids under 10 yrs and we have also come to find that people think that we must be deaf since we have so many kids, otherwise they would surely not make such rude comments, both friend and stranger, right???
    I have loved reading your blog for ages now and I pray that the Lord would continue to bless you and your precious family.
    Blessings to you (and to you too, Shannon!) from Meg Down Under!

  93. Margaret says:

    What a great post. Thanks for hosting it!
    What is so sad is that I have only three children, and I relate to everything Jenni said. I get all the comments with only three children, all the negativity, all the judgement, all the “oh, you must be a super patient person, all the “how do you afford them all?”. If three is “so many” I can’t imagine what people are going to say 10 years down the road when I have (Lord willing) 5 or 7 children.

  94. Teri says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!
    This afternoon we meet with a lawyer to sign the court petition to adopt our 8th child.
    Some of the comments we hear make me crazy! We’re not saints. Just called and we followed. Not always willingly. But obediently. It’s hard but oh, the blessings we get from those 8, well, 7, the one I’m pretty sure is an alien sent to make me miserable.

  95. laura says:

    Shannon, thank you for this series. It is helpful and informative for all of us.
    Jenni, I couldn’t agree with you more!! I grew up in a family of eight. I have five children of my own. The youngest will be two weeks tomorrow and the oldest will be six next week. Pretty much any time we go out, I get asked, “Are they all yours?!?” I always try to answer very kindly and at the very least, with a smile, even though it drives me crazy! I desire to show my children a good example by my attitude and my words. What I would really like to say to these people is, “No, I just drive around the neighborhood looking for small children to take to the store because it makes the experience THAT MUCH MORE FUN!”

  96. SmockLady says:

    Thanks, Jenni, for offering those words so beautifully. I tend to lose my own words of grace when responding to such negative comments. My hubby is a pastor. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse (some think we are supposed to have a lot of children and others think we should have very few because our income is so very low). It also makes it hard as we already live in a glass house and everyone thinks they ought to know our business. We’ve found our recently that we are expecting #7 and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

  97. Lisa @ put-it-on-the-list says:

    Very well said. Although I’m a mom to only two, my mom was the oldest of 13, so I’m familiar with a lot of what you talk about. My aunts and uncles, in many cases, couldn’t be more different from each other. And family reunions, although huge and boisterous, are a lot of fun — these are people who genuinely love and care about each other. In the dysfunction you see in society today, there’s a lot to be said for that!

  98. franticallysimple says:

    I am a mother of one child, but I can still relate to your post. People are either: “good for you for keeping the population down” or they think we don’t really like kids and/or are selfish. Or they ask what’s wrong with us.
    And if she acts up its because she’s a “spoiled” only-child.
    I’ve found that anything outside the norm is viewed with suspicion.
    So I say good for you for living the life God gave you and good for me too.
    (But not on a from my pedestal kind of way.)

  99. Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years says:

    You said…
    Parents of large families are not out to prove anything. We’re not vying for your admiration, we aren’t trying to win any awards, we don’t view childbearing as some sort of contest (someone asked my husband during our last pregnancy if we were trying to “beat the Duggars”), and we don’t think you’re less spiritual than we are if you have fewer than we do.
    LOL! You haven’t met some of the same large families as my husband and I have! Once at a retreat, my husband was bothered to hear the father of 8 (who has since been exposed and jailed as an adulterer) say something snide like, “Yeah…I just don’t get those couples that stop at just three.”

  100. Emily says:

    I found this really interesting to read, as we are currently planning to have many more children (we have 2.8 right now!) Although I’m part of a very supportive church family, and many of us in my age-group already have 2-3 children, it has recently started to dawn on me that with another child or two I’m going to be very much outside the “normal” demographic, even in my very child-friendly church. It will be interesting to see how that works out, particularly in friendships with other moms.

  101. Pam says:

    “Grace is the Melanie Wilkes to the world’s Scarlett O’Hara.” Beautiful.
    Thanks for this post, Jenni. As the fifth of five kids, I remember hearing a certain amount of large-family comments — and I can especially emphathize with the younger kids who inevitably get compared to their older siblings!
    And as the mom of one, I’ve also heard the comments on the other end of the spectrum. It’s always amazed me how people will ask questions or make comments on such a personal area… I need to remember to be like Melanie Wilkes!

  102. Barb says:

    As a homeschooling mother of five, I receive the occassional comments, but I never take them personally. A lot of people are just trying to make conversation. It took me 5 years of homeschooling before I could say it outloud to strangers and not feel self-conscious. It was clearly my issue, not theirs for asking about it.

  103. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    Oh my goodness, I really love this post. I’m only on my fourth baby, but still to many that is a lot of kids. And I can relate in many, many ways to everything you’ve written. And maybe I didn’t even know I felt some of those “stings”… thank you for sharing this in such an eloquent way!
    Steph

  104. Ronnica says:

    “Parents of large families are not out to prove anything….we don’t think you’re less spiritual than we are if you have fewer than we do.” I definitely don’t get this from you, Jenni, or the majority of other parents of large families that I come in contact with, but some do seem to rub it in that they have lots of children and are obeying the Lord by doing so!
    There is a couple I greatly respect at church that has 7 (the largest in our church), and they have both said to me that they try to make as little deal as possible about their abundance of children. When I consider their gracious attitude about it and how their children are some of the best behaved I know (even though most of them are fun-loving, adventure-seeking boys), I want to be just like them. Not because they have a lot of children, but because they seem to be great parents who should be emulated.
    One of the biggest shocks I’ve had with working with the children is just the uniqueness of every last one of them. It doesn’t matter how much they seem like their sibling initially, it soon becomes clear that they are each themselves and not a copy of each other!

  105. Jen says:

    What a great post. Thanks for your honesty. Hilariously, I recently had my 3rd and receive some similar treatment. I’m sure it’s because I live in the middle of a very urban area, in a 2 bedroom apartment. I’ve noticed the trend of most of our neighbors and friends in town to stop at 2 kids. I so enjoy our 3, but in the same way don’t know what to say when someone says, “3 boys?!” (almost rolling their eyes, and said in front of my kids) or “How do you do it?” Anyway, thanks for sharing and I’m going to check out your blog for sure.

  106. Jill says:

    I loved this post too. I believe anyone with a large family would say this post resonates with how they have been treated at one time or another. Great job Jenni! We are a family of 9 brought together by God – all we did was be obedient! Don’t praise me for what He has done to my heart! Or my husbands! Praise HIM! I do feel very alone at times and get very tired of the negative comments or the worry that any of our children are ignored. Then they venture to our home and see not only are they happy but they get along, love each other desperately and are well behaved.
    Blessings to all families who are following God’s call and allowing Him to decide on the size of your family!

  107. amyb says:

    wow. i guess we would be considered a larger family. we only have 5 kiddos, with hopes of adding to our family through adoption in a few years. i have gotten many, well i hate to say negative, how about not so positive comments. we have been very lucky with our family though. my dad was one of 11 kids, and my husband was one of 7. they are much more positive about the number of our brood. i get the whole “you must be a saint” etc. comments too. why? i have no idea. most days i am just trying to get through the day (did i mention i babysit?). anyway, i loved this post! good luck with your family!

  108. Mrs. Troop says:

    Great post, Jenni! Love your blog~you know that.
    One of the oddest things I’ve been asked (more than once) is, “Did YOU actually give birth to them all?” Hmmmm. As if my reproductive history is public record.
    I just laugh at the counting heads and comments that they all look alike. Because they do – and they don’t. My husband is one of ten and NO we aren’t trying to catch up with his mother OR his sister (with 12) OR his brother (with 10). God has blessed us with eight and I pray that they will all become the kind, laid-back, grace-giving adults that their daddy is.
    Thank you for the encouragement. We all need the reminder to give grace to those around us.
    And NO I don’t know if we are done and YES I’m tired and NO I’m not the most patient woman in the world.
    OH – and YES my hands are full. And I wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world.

  109. Sherry Early says:

    EIght children, and totally in agreement with you. I especially could identify with the “saint” comments which come fast and furious when people find out that I have eight children and I homeschool.
    “I could never do that!” they say. And what am I supposed to say? “Oh, yes, you could.” ???
    Also, I have struggled with the not wanting to share parenting difficulties for fear people would say either: well, that’s what happens when you have so many or you should just put them in a real school. In fact, I have had people say both things to me.

  110. Jane says:

    I have a student who is one of 14 children. I wish her parents would have more! They truly do it well and bring well adjusted, happy, students to my classroom! Rock on!

  111. Kristin says:

    We ‘only’ have 5. When people say to me, “Don’t you know what causes that?” We say, “Yep, that’s why we keep doing it.”
    I heard on the news the other day that 2007 was a baby-boomlet. Officials are still waiting to see if 2008 is a boom to offically call it a baby boom. I say, KEEP IT UP LADIES!!!

  112. Lucy says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been reading Jenni for a while and love her blog! I have three kids myself, but DH and I wanted more. Sadly, medical issues made having more impossible and adoption is not an option right at this time (although it is definitely on our radar – we have to wait a while, since we intend to adopt older children). We even bought a big house in anticipation of filling it with children.
    Even with our three kids we’ve gotten stupid comments. I’ve used the “Yes, we know what causes it and we like it!” comeback before.
    I do really admire women with lots of children and read their blogs! I grew up in a family of four kids and had friends with much bigger families. I always wished we’d had more siblings (as did my parents, btw). While I’m not a “full quiver” person at all, I do believe that children are gifts from God and I think it’s great that Jenni (and others like her) have been so open to God’s blessings!

  113. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the post! I have five gorgeous children and I have heard every one of the comments you’ve mentioned. The ones that hurt the most come from my own family and my own church. And the saint comment is awful – though I’ve never claimed to be a saint, I always feel guilty knowing one of those people will show up at my house and find out the truth – I’m a mess, albeit a fun one!I cling to Psalm 127, knowing God sees me as a woman with lots of blessin’s.

  114. Qtpies7 says:

    Great post! I’m not sure I would have written it so graciously.
    I try to handle the ugly comments with humor. Like how I am over populating the earth, lol. Really, I am just securing my social security! LOL

  115. Jerri says:

    Great post! Hubby and I are expecting #13 (all ours and our 25th anniversary is next month!) and all you wrote is true.
    There are a few things I would add:
    1. If you bring us a meal, (after a baby or surgery, etc.), and many church folks are afraid to even try to bring us a meal, just ask first about how much we really eat before sending 40 chicken drumsticks for our dinner! We don’t eat as much as most people assume! Much of our family are young children with small appetites. Left overs area great, but we hate to see families spend more than they need to when they bring us a meal.
    2. Don’t assume pregnancy is somehow easier and uncomplicated for those of us with big families, and therefore that is part of “why” we have so many. I know I don’t bring up that I have had 8 pregnancy losses unless it is going to minister to someone to share that information. On the other hand, I take every opportunity I can to share how doubly blessed we are with our large family because we had a vasectomy after our 4th child was born. God changed our hearts, led us to a great reversal doctor and God healed us, even though we did not deserve it.
    3. Do invite us over for dinner and fellowship just as you would a family with 2 or 4 or ? children. We rarely, if EVER, get invited to other church families homes. It can be a lonely feeling. We know you aren’t set up to seat 14+ people – we can bring folding chairs or eat in shifts, or sit on the floor! Really, we would rather have a meal on your floor and the pleasure of your hospitality and fellowship than for you to feel you could never “accommodate” our large family. We would never assume that you provide all the food either. I would always ask “what can we bring”. But, in case I forget, don’t be shy, ask me if I can bring hamburgers for grilling and a dessert, or whatever will make you being able to host the easiest. That said, we have learned to invite others over to our house as much as possible, because we know it is hard from smaller families to grasp that it isn’t that hard, and we don’t have lofty expectations, to have us over.
    We do get asked quite often, after hearing how many children we have and/or that we are expecting again, “well, just how many do you want/plan to have?”. Years ago I had a number in mind, that maybe we would have “so” many. Not anymore though. I just tell those inquiring minds that we would “like” to have as many as God gives us. =)

  116. Stephanie in AR says:

    You hit the nail right on the head. We have 8 spread out from 11 months to 24 years. I answer the “don’t you know what causes that” by pausing for a moment, slowly draw out yes, then ask “shouldn’t you be asking your mother?” Works like a charm.

  117. RJL says:

    My mom always said the greatest gift she and my Dad could ever give us kids was each other, and she was so right. I’m so glad my Mom and Dad had eleven of us!

  118. Mama C says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I always learn so much from these posts.
    I have 3 children, and the reactions to my 3rd pregnancy were very different to 1 and 2. I got a few negative comments that really surprised me, so I can only imagine the comments you have endured.
    If it is the 3rd child or the 13th, a new member of a family is reason to rejoice.

  119. Gina says:

    Very well written. I have three and already get the “you’re not going to have MORE, are you?” from family, friends, strangers, you name it, as if 3 is a large family. How have “norms” changed so much in just two generations? Ridiculous.

  120. Sarah says:

    What a wonderful post! I grew up as one of six children, and experienced (or saw my parents experience) all of these things. My husband and I hope to be blessed with a large family as well.
    It is amazing that in such an age of society demanding “tolerance” for every person and every “lifestyle choice”, that very little tolerance is extended to large families.
    Thanks for sharing!

  121. melissa mailly says:

    One day when two of my kids were playing at a neighbor’s house (a one-child-by-choice family), I walked over to have them come home for dinner, carrying my new baby. The mother saw me and said, “Another one, huh?” I said, enthusiastically, “Yeah!” She replied, “Well I won’t be drinking any of YOUR water.” I refrained from telling her that this was actually our FOURTH child, as we have a little boy in heaven.
    Part of me is already mourning about the fact that one day I will give birth to my LAST CHILD. Each one is such an incredible blessing, so indescribably precious – I can easily understand why someone would welcome 12 children. And I’m sure you ARE an amazing mom! 🙂

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