The other day I was speaking to a woman on the phone who, for practical reasons, needed to know a little more about me and my family. When she discovered that I had eight children, and worse yet, that my husband died when they were all under 18, I thought she would have a stroke. She left little doubt in my mind that I must be crazy.
I’m not sure what exactly she thought I should do—renumber my kids or simply never mention them, but her tone suggested I had made an indelicate mistake in even admitting I had eight children—under any circumstances.
In some kind of perverse reaction, rather than crumbling into a heap of repentant grief, I further distanced myself from decent society by proclaiming that I also homeschool my kids, and I really enjoy being around them.
Her response: “Whatever!”
I was clearly beyond all hope.
Did I fall upon my knees in prayer for the poor woman’s soul? No. Good idea—it just never occurred to me. She would undoubtedly be baffled by my pity, so I’ll call it compassion, but honestly, it would be a pity. I pity anyone who sincerely believes that children are little more than burdens, or that no one could seriously want and welcome eight kids—especially under trying circumstances.
When my husband was diagnosed with Leukemia, my youngest was only seven months old. Besides the terrible grief I felt for my suffering husband was the realization that we would never know the joy of welcoming another baby into the world. As it is, the eight children I’ve been blessed with have shared their strength, their candor, their honesty, their love, their hard work, their sense of honor, and their noble spirits with me and many others.
The other day, as I stared at two large feed sacks I knew I could not lift, my eldest son stepped over without a word and swooped them into his arms and put them where they belonged. God knew what He was doing when He gave me son #1. And #2, who has a sense of humor that lightens the mood even in the hardest moments. And #3, who is a world-class student, manages the chicken establishment on our place, and mops floors on the side. #4 is the family cook and storyteller, #5 is our artist par-excellence, #6 helps me organize, #7 helps keep the critters happy, #8 keeps us laughing.
There will always be people who think I’m crazy for having eight kids.
I couldn’t be more grateful.