“Lo, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Ps 126:3-5)
Today I wanted to speak to couples who are preparing for marriage and to those who are of child-bearing age:
Have babies. Have lots of babies! Why not be open to the gift of many children and really embrace life to its fullest? Our God is an awesome family planner. Let Him work His miracles–again, again and again.
Sure, it requires enormous sacrifice, but it’s the very best investment you can make. Of course it is costly to raise a large brood, and I don’t mean to understate that fact. It demands a high price in financial, emotional and sweat equity. But as my parents-in-law are fond of stating, “It all works itself out.” They sent seven kids through Catholic schools all the way through Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Notre Dame, and they were able to make ends meet. Each holiday, I witness my father-in-law get teary-eyed when he counts his blessings during Grace. With 41 grandkids and a handful of great-grandchildren, my in-laws are literally surrounded by family, and for this they are truly grateful.
My grandmother also raised seven kids (on a very thin income), and when she was in her 90s she had more visitors than anyone else in the nursing home. On one of our visits she was laughing because, “All those people who used to tell me how CRAZY I was to have all those babies are now telling me how LUCKY I am!”
But in today’s society? Even Pope Benedict XVI recognizes that it’s a timeless truth being played out on a different playing field. He recently said, “Without children there is no future. Families are a witness to faith, courage and optimism when they welcome many children even amid today’s social environment.” (Remarks directed towards members of the Italian National Association of Large Families on Feb. 15.)
Now, of course there are some couples that are not able to conceive, and there are couples who are blessed with one, two or three bundles of joy, but cannot have more. Perhaps they are being called to build their family through the miracle of adoption. I know people who have built their families through the gift of a local adoption, or by using an agency from Ethiopia and the Ukraine. Sibling groups in these countries are waiting for a new home.
My husband and I have a ‘quiver full.’ Nine children to be exact. Almost daily we reflect on how happy we are to have a large family. My spouse, like his father, will get emotional talking about how great it is having not only a whole clan of kids, but also a pair of “cabooses” at the end to keep us young. (When I was almost 43 we had twins–eight years behind their seven siblings.) My husband recently told me, “I do not regret having a big family–it’s what I cherish! Sure, we will have to live with old carpet…but it’s all worth it!” We compiled the following list of why the sacrifice was worthwhile:
13 reasons to have a large family
- You are giving your children the single dearest gift a parent can provide: SIBLINGS — and only siblings can teach a child early on to identify his/her strengths and weaknesses
- Members of a large family help eachother learn to be greater. It builds leadership qualities in the siblings
- A little chaos is good for everybody–it builds character
- No time for worldly temptations that come between husband and wife
- All family members in a big clan really appreciate the quiet time they have, even if it comes in minutes (You wont catch me complaining about a delay at the airport–I just get my book out!)
- In years to come, family crises will be tackled by a whole team, (ask an only child who has to find living arrangements for elderly parents) and family joys will be multiplied.
- It helps the marriage–couples learn to appreciate the simple things (where happiness dwells)
- Large families are admired–especially if the kids turned out well!
- Kids who grow up in big families learn at a young age the art of negotiating for scarce resources
- Children who come from large families will not be perfect, but they are almost guaranteed not to be spoiled – self-centeredness will be suffocated
- You will never run out of humorous stories or priceless artwork. The children will never run out of fodder for their speeches and essays
- After you’ve spent the best years of your life watching band concerts, football games, swim meets, school plays and dance recitals, you can spend your golden years watching more of the same.
- Empty Nest Syndrome? What the heck is that?
(Thanks again to my mom, Cecelia Mac Donald, for her editing skills!)