4 Moms: How did you know you wanted/could handle a large family?

4 Moms: how did you know you wanted/could handle a large family?

Today the 4 Moms are answering a very tough question: How did you know you wanted/could handle a large family?

That’s actually two very different questions.  I’ll start with the 2nd, because it has an easy answer: I didn’t, and I couldn’t.  I would venture to say that none of us was prepared to handle a large family before we had a large family.  Most of us probably still aren’t able; we do it daily by the grace of God, not by our own strength.  As I’ve said before, if you start to feel like you can do it on your own, things are about to go downhill.

all 300x163 Big family photos; and family comes to my rescue once againI did, however, feel reasonably confident that I would be able to handle a large family if and when God gave me one.  I was the oldest of a large family, so I had plenty of hands-on training in the field.  I could cook for a crowd, had my own housecleaning business, and probably changed more diapers as a big sister than many mothers do in their lives.  I have a strong suspicion that I was a self-centered teen who only did just what was required and rarely went the extra mile, but I am extremely grateful that my parents had high standards so that “just what was required” went a long way toward preparing me for life as a wife and mother in a large family.

Nonetheless, as a 19yo newlywed (or as a 27yo mother of 5) I could not have been truly prepared for mothering my current crowd.  No one is.  God used our children one at a time (or 2 at a time if you have twins!) to teach us and sancify us, giving us the ability to do the job He laid before us.  I love the saying, “God does not call the equipped.  He equips the called.”  If you ever find yourself with a large family, whether you “planned” it or not, be assured that God has given you and will give you what you need to do your job.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.   Ph. 4:13.

As to the first question, I have written a little in the past about our journey away from the birth control mentality.  At first, Perry and I agreed that 5 or 6 children would be a nice, manageable sort of family.  After 4 in 5 years, we very nearly stopped.  We were in over our heads.  Then one at a time, we found ourselves subjected to different influences that made us seriously question what was driving our desire to stop having children.  We gradually came to the conclusion that it would be a mistake on our part, a demonstration of our own selfishness, pride and lack of faith, to purposely and prematurely put an end to our childbearing years.

If you feel judged by that last sentence, let’s not even open that can of worms today.  I didn’t say it applied to everyone, and I didn’t say it doesn’t.  I said it about myself and my husband in our particular situation and state of mind.

When we made that decision, we weren’t convinced that we wanted or could handle 8 or 12 or 15 children, but we were becoming convinced that God knew better than we did.  If He gave us that many children, we would have our answer – and we would find joy in it.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

And here we are, expecting #11.  I can’t imagine life without my last 6 children, and in October I won’t be able to imagine it without yet another.

The other moms are talking about it too:

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  1. Susan McVicker says:

    I prayed for my first baby like crazy. We were not well off and hubby assumed we ‘as mature adults at age 23, lol’ that we should kinda wait. My whole first year of marriage should have been perfectly happy, but I HATED being on the Pill. It became depressing to me that we prevented the natural possibility of our sexual union. I was so bummed. During that first year I babysat for a woman who had two small children-but both parents worked. I watched her leave her children every day as she set high standards for what she expected ME to do. I had had enough! At the end of that first year of marriage, I got off the pill and in 3 mnths I was pregnant! yea! 10 months after he was born, I became pregnant again. And at 12months and 2 weeks Little Sister became Big Sister. (imagine my family’s faces, lol)
    Fifteen months later #4 was born. It was at this point I was fully convinced in letting God control the womb. (He will anyway, afterall. wink.) My husband’s eyes were open to Scripture and ideas he had simply never thought of before. We officially stopped any kind of birth control. Interestingly enough, it was TWO AND A HALF YEARS before our next child came. lol. (I love that, because it shows you don’t get pregnant so easily just because you’re not using something.) When he was 1yr. 9months, #6 came along, 14 months later #7, 25 months later #8, 16months later #9. When she celebrated her 1st b-day, I was ‘just’ pregnant with #10, but lost him/her at 9 weeks gestation.
    I always say, I prayed for #1, and #2, but didn’t even get a CHANCE to pray for #3. lol I’ve always, ALWAYS wanted a large family. At first, as a young girl, Brady Bunch inspired me. Then the Waltons. Then Eight is Enough….obviously, I wasn’t raised in a home that was simply reading the BIBLE to get inspiration.
    Funny, MY kids occasionally see a Duggar episode. I wonder….

  2. Beautiful! That’s all I really wanted to say, but your comment police told me it was too short.:-D

  3. Just had to say: That is a beautiful family picture there at the end! You look radiant. 🙂

  4. Well said! You have put into words my thoughts a lot of times when people tell me I must have so much patience, or they would NEVER have enough patience to have so many children (we just had our 7th) or to homeschool, etc. The fact is, God doesn’t give grace till we need it so we don’t know what we can handle till we’re there.

  5. CarminaB says:

    I love your site, especially the Q & A section. We have 6 boys and there are days when I ask myself : How am I going to do it today? Then it gets better. There are days when I think what my life would be like with less kids, older kids. But then I count my blessings because this is my life and despite the challenges, the Lord is always there for us.

  6. Jenn D. says:

    I just had #6 last week and I am 29. Some days I do start to get overwhelmed thinking about *how many more I could potentially have* with how many childbearing years I have left but then I always realize that God is in control and His plan is perfect, and like you said, I can’t imagine my life without any of them.

  7. Enjoyed this! We’re solidly in the little, crazy years right now. Next February we should meet #4, which will give me 4 kids ages 5 and under at age 25. (Hm, I sound like you.)

  8. Leah V. says:

    I’m 9 weeks pregnant with our third (I’m in the *bleh* stage). 😛

    Something Pastor Steve Wilkins said about parenting has really stuck with me (paraphrasing here): God gives you 3-baby-grace, when you have 3 babies. He’ll give you 10-baby-grace when you have 10 babies, and so on, and so on. 😉

    Very encouraging words for those times when we wonder if we can handle another one. Another important thing to remember during those times: I’m not going to feel like I do now (pregnancy yickiness) and have to take care of a newborn at the same time! 🙂

  9. It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!!!!!

  10. Always love these 4 Mom’s posts! Do you have one on traveling w/a large family? Or your own personal post on that topic?

  11. I smile at this…having just had our fifth baby a week ago, which must seem like a starter-size to you, :). But people (family, mostly) are just flabbergasted by our crazy and reckless childbearing, lol, especially when they ask if we are done now (in a tone that says “surely you must be”), and I say, “I hope not!” I am 37 years old, so the “done” days will eventually be upon me all in their own time….

    When we first started homeschooling, I had one six year old child. One of the first homeschooling families we met had four children, and I thought, “Homeschooling with four kids! I could never do that!” lol…each new child stretches you, stretches everyone in the family. I have moments during each pregnancy where I think, “How will we do this? How will we manage a newborn again? How will we work this or that out?” And you just do. One at a time. People shouldn’t ask themselves if they can handle 10 kids. No one with two kids thinks they can handle 10! Just ask yourself if you can handle one more. One more plate of food at the table, one more set of clothes from the thrift store…just one more soul to be generous to, to be open to loving.

  12. “When we made that decision, we weren’t convinced that we wanted or could handle 8 or 12 or 15 children, but we were becoming convinced that God knew better than we did. If He gave us that many children, we would have our answer – and we would find joy in it.”

    Love this….because it sums up our life too. Sometimes I think it’s down-right crazy to be expecting our 10th child…but at the same time feel completely contented and joyful! That’s GOD!

  13. Thank you for this post, Kim. I’m a amidge away from 30 weeks with my fifth baby, and the gap this time will end up being nearly six years, because I was sure I was *done* having kids.

    Then God turned my heart around, and moved my husband, and here we are…and everyone I know assumes that we will be done after this baby. Honestly, on a lot of days, I don’t think I’d be able to handle another pregnancy (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually). But I still feel the prodding of God that it should not be my decision, and I’m struggling with that.

    Thank you for your honesty and example. Wishing you and baby the best!

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