Having a larger-than-average sized family generates a lot of questions from curious onlookers. Because I’ve been fielding the same handful of questions over and over as we travel the globe, I can probably guess what you’re wondering. So here are my answers to your questions about our family before you even ask me.
- Are they ALL yours?
ANSWER: No, some are ours. The rest just follow us around and call us Mom and Dad. Seriously, though . . . yes, they are all the biological offspring both of my husband and me. We are not a blended family and none of them are adopted. Those can both be beautiful ways to form and grow a family, but that doesn’t happen to be our story.
- Are any of them twins?
ANSWER: No, but I’ve always wanted to have twins. God knows best, and apparently, He thinks I’d be in over my head with twins. After our youngest two were born only 15 months apart, I decided that was close enough to twins for me. Somehow, 8 children just feels like a whole lot more than 7.
- Are you Catholic or Mormon?
ANSWER: Neither. We are your generic, garden-variety Protestants who move around too much to claim allegiance to any one particular denomination. We are followers of Jesus, not a particular flavor of doctrine. We do not have a large family out of religious obligation, but because we wanted to. We believe God speaks truth and He calls children blessings, not burdens.
- Did you come from a large family?
ANSWER: No. I have 1 sister and my husband has 1 brother. Even our families thought we were weird at first too, but now they couldn’t imagine life any other way. We have boldly launched into new territory with very few examples to see how to make it work.
- Did you know you wanted to have a big family when you got married?
ANSWER: No. He wanted 2 children. I wanted 4. We compromised by multiplying. Actually, with each new child, God taught us something new and stretched us a little more, and we kept thinking, “Tiny people are so fun and amazing! How could we ever stop welcoming them into our family?”
- Are you done?
The short answer is usually, “That’s not really any of your business.” though I don’t ever have the courage to tell the questioners that to their face. I certainly don’t mind discussing family matters with my mom-friends, but I am amazed at how many people are comfortable asking me questions about my fertility before they’ve even asked my name. Please don’t be rude. If you don’t know a person well enough to discuss your own reproduction with her, then don’t expect her to fill you in on all the details about what’s going on in her body. Typically, our answer is, “We will take them as the Lord gives them.”
- Do you homeschool?
ANSWER: I guess homeschool and big families go hand in hand. In this case, we generally fit the stereotype. After homeschooling all our children for a decade, we are now in a new situation for us. We prayed earnestly about each individual child for this particular school year. The result is that four of our children are attending excellent public schools in our neighborhood and four are continuing their education at home. So my answer to this question is no longer as simple as it used to be.
- Really? But you look so good for having so many children!
ANSWER: Okay, so this isn’t exactly a question. It’s a compliment with a qualifier. It’s like saying, “You run fast . . . for a girl.” Or “That’s not too bad . . . for a beginner.” I think people are genuinely trying to be complimentary; however the unspoken assumption in this statement is that having children takes a toll on one’s appearance. There are few things in this world more beautiful than motherhood. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You can read how motherhood has impacted my body here.
- Don’t you know where they come from?
ANSWER: This is one of my favs! The person asking this question usually has an air of being very clever, as if he is the first person to ever think to ask me that. Interestingly, I get this question only from men. I have never had a woman ask me this one. I guess women give me credit for being somewhat intelligent. There are so many interesting and fun ways to answer this question. I choose from a variety of responses depending on the person, the context, and whether or not I’m in the mood to have a little fun. Here is a sampling of the good times you can have answering this little gem:
~ Yes, I do. Would you like me to explain it to you?
~ You know, we have been baffled by this very question for many years, but I think we’ve finally got it figured out. We keep our toothbrushes separate now, so we think that will take care of it. We’ll let you know how it works for us.
~ No, we don’t! Can you help us?
~ Yes, I know where children come from . . . straight from God.
~ Yes, we are aware. We believe intelligent people should reproduce.
~ Yes, and we like it!
- How do you do that? I can’t even handle the two I’ve got.
ANSWER: If this is you, don’t panic. While God gives us plenty of grace to handle what He’s called us to do, He doesn’t typically equip us to do what He hasn’t asked us to do. No matter how many children you have, God has entrusted their care to you and now you must trust Him to equip you to be the mother you are meant to be. Truly, the task of raising even one human being is a monumental responsibility. As mothers, we are caretakers and nurturers of at least one person who possesses an eternal soul. We all need God’s grace by the bucketfuls to raise each one of these precious treasures entrusted to our care. We can’t do it without Him. He never intended for us to.
So, there you have it . . . the answers to the Top Ten questions people ask me when we meet. Now we can move on to other important personal questions like, “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”