Being Quiverfull

My friend MamaArcher started a QuiverFull Blogroll recently and would like members to post about their own Quiverfull Journey. My husband is going to post about the journey itself; I would like to ramble a bit about being here.

Let me start by saying that I understand that God gives some families fewer children. I am not talking about those who couldn’t have more children, but those who chose not to – for any reason.

Unlike many other large families, we have never received an overtly hostile comment, though many onlookers seem unsure what to think or say. We receive many of the same comments over and over. Some are simple observations:

  • Better you than me.
  • You sure have your hands full!

Fair enough. You never wanted a houseful of children. I won’t try to convince you that you’re wrong. My hands are full, though I firmly believe that even a single child will keep a mother’s hands full. 8 children really are not 8 times as much work. Children require our full attention whether we have 1 or a dozen.

Some comments are unqualified compliments:

  • They’re beautiful!
  • They’re so well behaved!
  • Are you Christians? I could just tell…

But many comments sound more like excuses:

  • I don’t know how you do it. My two kids keep me busy/drive me crazy.
  • I would love a large family, but I just can’t afford more children.
  • I’m just not patient enough.
  • I would have had more, but pregnancy was too hard on me. I just wasn’t made for it. (***Or my doctor advised me not to have any more.)

This may sound harsh, but I think all of these really are just excuses. I think that many people, for many reasons, just honestly don’t want large families and when they see a large family they instinctively feel a bit defensive. We obviously disagree with their choice in family size. Knowing or assuming this, they will seek and find the excuse they need to justify their decision.
But an excuse is not a legitimate reason. “I can’t, because…” doesn’t sound any better coming from an adult than from the child who doesn’t want to do what he’s told. If you see a large family and immediately feel the need to defend your choice not to have a large family, maybe you need to reconsider. Do you think we couldn’t use the same excuses?

If we believe that children are a blessing from God and that large families should be the norm, we need to act upon that belief regardless of whether we really think we’re ready for the job. No excuses. Who among us is really ready and fully equipped to raise even one child? Can any of us really expect to succeed in this monumental task by our own strength and virtue?

Can you guarantee that you are patient enough to raise even one child? Do you think I was equipped to be the mother of this crowd when I was a newlywed? Do you think I’m the perfect model of saintly patience now?

Do you really have the financial stability to commit to providing for a child for 18 or more years? How do you know where your job or bank account will stand at this time next year? Are you sure you’ll even be alive next week?

Do you think pregnancy is always fun or easy for moms of many? Our hips and backs hurt too. Labor hurts, every time. We have gestational diabetes, ligament pain, fatigue, anemia, c-sections, morning sickness, children with handicaps, stillbirths and miscarriages. We do this joyfully because it is our service to the Lord, not because it sounds like fun.

Why do we do this? It certainly sounds foolish to some people. They see a large family crowded into a small home, driving an old van, counting their spare change to decide if they really ought to order off the dollar menu or just buy a bunch of bananas, all for want of a few dollars’ worth of birth control.

This is foolishness to some. Some would say it’s also foolish to pay tithes when you can’t pay your bills, or to thank God for the food you raised by the sweat of your own brow, or to abstain from premarital sex. We think Scripture teaches differently, and we are not ashamed to appear foolish in the eyes of the world.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

***If your doctor advised you not to have more children, I understand that yours was a hard decision – but it was a decision nonetheless. You had a choice and you made it. Not everyone obeys their doctor’s advice; not every doctor offers the same advice, and not everyone who goes against the advice of a doctor winds up regretting it. I’m not saying that you should have decided differently. Only that you did, indeed, have and make a choice.

see the follow-up post here: Quiverfull Clarifications