When I came to understand Catholic teaching on love and marriage, my heart grew to include the unborn children I once thought I did not want. Knowledge demanded action since my husband and I had taken permanent measures to end the creation of life in our family. One reversal and four more souls later, our clan of ten, grew to twelve when we later accepted two orphans from Kenya. Love grows; pure and simple. But some just don’t know that.
Here are my thoughts to some of the people in my life over the years, who just didn’t understand.
To the guy I know from church who pointed to my pregnant belly and said, “Tell Mark the tax credits aren’t that good.” You just don’t understand what real treasure is.
To the man at the basketball game who shouted to me as I walked down the bleachers carrying our youngest one, “Is that the last one?” Really? I may have smiled but I did not enjoy all the people in the lower bleachers looking up at me and waiting for my answer. I nicely told you that’s not a question you should ask people. If I wasn’t navigating my way down bleachers with a baby in arms, I might have said much more.
To the girl at Papa Murphy’s Pizza who loudly asked: “Are you having any more?” You certainly provided a teaching moment with all eyes in that small store on me, waiting for the answer. Some things only God knows, especially the things we surrender to him.
To the man in the airplane who turned and angrily glared at me years ago when the baby kept crying. I was traveling alone with three children; did you think I was pinching the baby to make him cry? Your dislike of children was clear, but trust me, I was more stressed than you. What a blessing when we de-planed and a lady came over to tell me she had prayed for me. Thank you to everyone who quickly offered me help. Sir, your heart is small and your anger quick. I said a prayer for you.
To the man who told me we are not Mormons: No, I’m Catholic and so are you. Do you know what that means?
To any of the well dressed women in malls or grocery stores who were tempted to look down on me in my sweatpants with my large brood: Don’t feel sorry for me, these sweat pants are comfortable, and the sneakers are too. I don’t want what you have but do you know what I have?
To my son’s friend who commented: “Imagine how rich your parents would be if they didn’t have so many kids.” Do you know how rich we really are? There is nothing on the face of the earth that my son would trade in place of his siblings.
To another son’s friend who meant it as a compliment when he said, “I respect your parents for having so many kids and not taking welfare.” I know you meant well but perhaps you confuse openness to life with dysfunction. Not that it’s wrong for people to need help sometimes, but your intended compliment showed ignorance on what it means to accept the blessing of a large family.
To all those who have made comments that they won’t be having anymore because they’ve gotten “fixed” or “taken care of it.” Nothing was broken before. Surgically altering a healthy body to prevent natural functioning is not “taking care” of that body. No judgment from me, however. Remember, I too once did not understand.
For those who made comments about how old my husband and I were with our last one, (45 and 44). We are including eternity in our timeline, are you?
To the woman at the fast food restaurant who thought I ran a day care. I do care for mine every day. You were surprised when I said they were all mine but I loved the look on your face when I told you there were still four more. Thanks for the laugh.
To the nursing student who asked me how I can stand all the drudgery? Won’t you be cleaning bedpans and other messes and taking care of needy people? The difference in what you will do and what I do is that I am taking care of the people I love most in the world. I prefer the word blessing to drudgery.
To anyone who thought we were adding to an already overpopulated world. Inform yourselves. Most of the world is suffering—really suffering—from a population decline. People are our greatest natural resources. Get out of town sometime and notice that most of the world is still empty. Or just remind yourself that God is all knowing. He would not have made a world too small to contain us nor make a heart too small to receive all that he has to give.