Yesterday afternoon I took all three kids on a walk, by myself, for the first time. The twins were in their double stroller and I had Ana strapped into the Mei Tae Carrier. It was hard to keep from laughing as all the people driving by were gawking at us. I will admit, we were a sight. But I was used to getting looks from people when we had the twins. Mostly it was just a double take or a quick smile. We would sometimes get the usual comments, "oh, are they twins?" or "You sure have your hands full." But almost always people were polite and happy for us. Now that we have an infant as well, it seems we've passed over into "crazy" territory. When I was still pregnant with Juliana we were walking through the grocery store and a clerk stopped us. He looked at my belly and then at the twins and said, "They're twins? I'm so sorry." I've had similar reactions out shopping where people just say "wow" or stare with their eyes bulged out and shake their heads.
We are a counter-cultural family. I am (almost) 27 years old, have three children under the age of 2 1/2, stay at home with them, do not intend to go back to work and plan to homeschool them. That is enough to make some people scratch their heads or say, "I could never do that." Giving up their career to stay home with children (and several of them) appears to be too much of a sacrifice. What about their dreams? Their career? Their time to themselves? Isn't it boring? Don't you get lonely? I don't have the patience for that. I would go crazy cooped up all day.
My dreams are likely different from yours. I have always wanted a family more than anything else. When I look at the faces of my children I am overcome by how much I love them, by how much joy they bring into our home. At times I get teary-eyed watching my husband play with the kids, everyone laughing and happy, and our sweet baby cooing in my arms. It seems as though every child makes your heart grow bigger, allowing you to love more than you thought you could. How anyone can think more than one or two children is a bad thing is beyond me. Yes, it is hard sometimes. We don't get as much sleep as we would like. There are always dishes, laundry and cleaning to be done, diapers to change and time-outs to be given. Sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes I just need a break. But never, ever will I regret my choice to have a family and be open to new life. Being at home with them allows me to share in their jokes and antics, take beautiful walks outside, watch their eyes light up as they experience museums and parks, hear their laughter as they play together, receive countless hugs and kisses and hear "I Love You" several times a day. I would miss seeing my children grow as individuals, sharing in their accomplishments and comforting them when they are sad. I would miss my children being children.
The fact that we don't use birth control (NFP only) and I have some 15 or so childbearing years left can be a little daunting. We are not setting out to have 10 children, but if that is what the Lord blesses us with we will be happy. If we don't have any more than our current three, we will know we are blessed abundantly. Children bring so much more to our lives than they could ever keep us from experiencing. Wherever our lives take us, God will be there, showering his graces and blessings down upon us. Seeing us through the hard times and rejoicing with us in the good.