Before I go into the store with my children, I put on some lip gloss, take a deep breath, and say a prayer. Most would think I do this because I am worried about my children’s behavior in public. No, I’m actually quite pleased with how my boys act in a store, considering they are all under the age of four.
I do this because I have to mentally prepare myself to interact with strangers who react to seeing my young children close in age.
“Wow! You sure have your hands full!” (By far the most common and doesn’t bother me anymore because it’s true.)
“All boys… You need a girl!”
“You know what causes that don’t you?”
“You’re done now, right?”
“Looks like you need a TV!”
“You and your hubby can’t keep your hands off of each other!”
They’re most likely trying to be light-hearted or witty, but 95% of the time, it’s pretty annoying. The comments are unwanted and, in some cases, just plain rude.
My four-year-old has started to ask me for clarification, “Mommy, what did that person say to you?” Fortunately, I have quick comebacks ready to go in my back pocket that I use, but it’s exhausting when I have an encounter in every aisle.
We Are Counter-Cultural
My husband and I have always desired a “large” family, and we feel very blessed to have our children. God-willing, we are open to more. But this day in age, that sounds crazy. At least it does to fellow shoppers I talk with regularly.
Come to find out; it’s counter-cultural to have three or more children. In 2020, the national average of 1.93 children per family in the United States. The Today Show recently published an article titled “More Americans report not wanting to have children ever.” The Top 3 reasons reported as to why couples do not want children include: financial status, medical concerns, and career goals.
Scared of the Unknown
In this article, women explain their fears, stating that having a child would take away their ability to be spontaneous or limit their time with hobbies, organizations, and pets. I hear these women. Welcoming a child into your life is a significant adjustment!
Parents have to consider their child’s routines and schedules before making plans. We can still have fun; we just have to put more thought into it before saying ‘yes’ to last-minute invites. Indeed, we don’t spend nearly as much time with our pre-baby hobbies and interests, but we can still have hobbies! We need to be proactive and make time for them. PMC has some inspiring posts on this topic that you should check out if you need some encouragement to start a new hobby or re-kindle an old one.
I’m not saying these couples are wrong for not wanting children or that family’s who fall within the national average family size are too “small.” I am very sensitive to the fact that there are MANY factors that go into how many children are in a family.
One factor that plagues many couples is infertility. I know many couples who would love to have more children, but they face complications. Writers from Pensacola Mom Collective have written from their hearts and shared their personal stories on this topic. Please know that I’m not ignorant of these realities; my heart aches for these couples.
My Point Is…
There is no right or wrong number of children in a family. If that is the case, why do so many people feel the need to give their two (or ten!) cents on family size?
I know that I’m not wrong for having more children than the national average of children per household, yet society makes me feel as though I’m wrong. The stares and comments speak volumes. Children are miracles, not a burden, and our posture and language should reflect that!
I encourage you, The next time you see a parent who “has their hands full,” I encourage you to:
- Smile at them. This smile could convey the message “I see you” or “I’ve been there.”
- Encourage them by reminding them that they’re doing a great job.
- Tell them that their children are beautiful and how lucky they are.
Never Too Many Flowers
So I’ll continue arming myself with the truth before going into stores with my boys. I’ll remind myself how grateful I am for each of their lives, how I am a witness to being open to life, and that as a woman, I was made for this.