Family-Loving Freak

Maybe I’m a freak. On a local mamapreneur thread we were asked what we would want to have, if we had the courage to ask for it—everyone else was asking for Teslas and winning the lottery; I want six kids.

I realized there are two things I’ve treasured most in life and regretted the least: travelling around the world and adding to my family. For me, “big family” brings up memories of choking-on-our-tears laughter with all my siblings and my parents in one room, memories of sitting around the living room with the fire burning while we all did our own thing but still together, memories of travelling across Canada in a van and pitching tents along the way. A big family increases the likelihood you’ll have someone you can turn to when you just don’t know where to go. A big family increases the likelihood that when I’m old, I’ll have someone to talk to—like I joked with my physiotherapist today, if I have six kids, I’ll have one to call me on every day of the week plus one day of rest!

And maybe I am crazy. And maybe I wouldn’t enjoy having another three kids or so. And maybe I won’t even be able to bring more live children into the world. I don’t know. But there’s a joy in not knowing, the same kind of joy you get when you’re travelling: you don’t know exactly what experiences you’re going to have, but you know it will be an adventure, and the odds are pretty highly in favour of this being a pretty grand adventure.

I’m travelling in this adventure with my best friend, the man whose company I enjoy more than anyone else I’ve ever met and whom I’ve vowed my life over to. He’s amazing. I never imagined marriage could be so fun and so beautiful. (Of course we argue! But I hadn’t realized that arguing in marriage can be good, that it can be a sign that we consider each other worth wrestling with until we come to a mutual conclusion). This man is also extraordinarily courageous: in some ways, the idea of having more kids makes him nervous, but he’s open to it, both because he loves me and because he honours God. That’s true courage right there.  He’s courageous, he’s interesting, he makes me laugh, and he honours God—that’s one heck of a life companion. And so far I’m crazy about the little people we’ve made together.

We’ve been blessed with four children so far, three with us. Each pregnancy has demanded a lot of trust from us that all things would work out well. With the first, my husband was unemployed and in the country on a vistor’s visa. With the second, we had to find a new home and we suffered through his terminal diagnosis and death. With the third, my doctor had advised against getting pregnant again so soon for mental health reasons (but I knew she was mistaken), again we had to find a new home, I felt like I was dying from what turned out to be gallstones, and my body was severely taxed by the weight and bulk of two wonderfully lively babies, and then we somehow survived a very blurry first year with twins. I haven’t regretted a single one of these pregnancies. Each child has been an awesome gift I have the privilege of continually deepening my understanding of—even Matthew.

We’ve used Natural Family Planning, which some people erroneously equate with the Rhythm Method, and it’s been very effective (my favourite method under the NFP umbrella term is the Marquette Method, perhaps because I get to do little science lab experiments in my bathroom, but perhaps also because I just find it extremely easy). If we were to discern through prayer that we shouldn’t have more children for some grave reason, we could limit ourselves to three as effectively as if I were to ply my body with artificial hormones, which, thanks be to God, I have never considered. (We’re not even supposed to eat the meat of animals given hormones—how is messing with my own hormones for years on end for an elective reason a good idea?).

But I want more kids. Sometimes, I’m not even sure why. After all, three kids is hard, really hard. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed. I’m on antidepressants. I’m not sure I’m a great mother. I don’t like all the chores. I like my “alone time.” Yet, none of this would magically transform for the better if I stopped at three. I guess I’d be past the “baby stage” sooner, but then what? I don’t want to be surrounded by Teslas at the end of my life. I want my kids there, my beautiful children I’m so proud of because they are.

I want to think that maybe, if I really do love my kids as much as I hope I might, they will take that love and multiply it, spreading it through the world. I want them to take the joy they discover at home and the talents they develop with the support of our home, and I want them to take those into the world and make it a better place. I hope to instil in them this little flame of God’s love that I have and invite them to spread it—just as at the Easter vigil, the flame from the Easter Candle is spread to the little candles of all the attendants in the church, so too do I want our light from Christ to be passed on.

And me? What will be my reward? I probably will never drive a Tesla. I may never even own a house. But to know that the Light has spread exponentially because I was open to sacrificing a little more sleep, a little more time, a little more money, a little more me—then I will know without a doubt that my life was not wasted.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

Matthew 16:19-20

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