A Large Family Manifesto

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xjp1This is my firstborn. When we became pregnant, people were worried it was too soon after getting married. They thought we needed time to get used to married life together first. But we were open.  And he was born… forever changing our lives with a lightening bolt of a never before experienced love. He is a boy with a keen sense of justice. He loves to read and play football and is very skilled at making small children feel special. We wonder what great things will be in his future. Maybe he’ll go on to be a sport’s legend or open an excellent children’s hospital.  Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll live a simple life and just be the guy who talks someone off a ledge someday. And that someone goes on to start a scholarship fund for at-risk youth. Maybe...

DSC_0153This is our second son, born two years later. News of his pregnancy was received pretty well. We had been ‘reasonable’ in our two year spacing and everyone was excited for our child to have a sibling.  And he was born… piercing our hearts with a sword of intensity and love never before experienced. He is passionate and particular. He is a talented musician, an accomplished baker and a quick student. Maybe he’ll grow up to compose award winning pieces to a full, formal music hall. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll just grow up with a boring job that he performs faithfully and get married to a decent girl and they live a normal life. Maybe he’ll become the father of three children, one of whom becomes a Supreme Court Judge that enacts major social change and is lauded for her intelligence. Maybe…

DSC_0042This is our third son. Upon announcing his birth, we received congratulations and then the gentle suggestion that it was time to ‘stop.’ Recommendations that my husband ‘get clipped’ were made. Three was enough, they said. And he was born, but even under difficult, imperfect circumstances, we found our hearts made shockingly new once again with a love never before experienced. He is a comedian and creative performer.  He is also unbelievably tender. Maybe he’ll grow up to become a holy and sought-after priest. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll simply live a normal life. Maybe he’ll become a police officer and marry a woman and become a father. And his simple dedication to goodness and selflessness become an inspiration to everyone who knows him. Maybe…

DSC_0606This is our first daughter. According to the commentators, she shouldn’t have happened. She tipped us over the edge of ‘responsible’ parenthood but people soon forgave us because she was a girl. You finally got your girl! Now you can stop. They said. And she was born in a beautiful, loving, peaceful environment. And the stars danced and the world was brand new and we discovered a love never before experienced.  She is an artist. She is sensitive and fierce. Full of a gentleness and a spirit-fire the color of her hair. Maybe she’ll grow up to be an award winning scientist and find new ways of making alternative energies efficient, forever bettering the world. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll get married but remain childless. But through hard work and sacrifice, she and her husband are able to save lots of money and help many others around them, blessing people in life changing ways with their generosity and maybe even foster parenting the child who will go on to develop cost-effective energy solutions. Maybe…

IMG_5962This is our fifth child. People thought we were fools when we announced his pregnancy. They gave my swollen belly scornful looks in the grocery store and told me I was irresponsible. We had too many they said. But I held my head high, proud of my children while still fighting back anger and sadness at their comments. If only they knew how much I loved them. And he was born. And our hearts cracked open and we plumbed new dimensions of love never before experienced. He is generous and loyal and in love with the living world. He teaches us about human dignity in a way none of our other children ever have. Maybe he’ll grow up to write groundbreaking stories and win a Pulitzer Prize. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll just grow up and live a normal life and become a biology teacher responsible for igniting a passion for learning in his students and one of his students goes on to develop new life-saving measures for trauma victims. Maybe…

IMG_4917This is our sixth child. The “Congratulations!” were by now either half-hearted or completely nonexistent, to be replaced by concern and pity. One girl saw my children and a pregnant me on the ferry and said in horror, “Eww.” And I cried inside for her. And this daughter was born and time stood still and she opened our eyes and hearts to unparalleled levels of love never before experienced. She is a lover. She is assertive and bossy and adores animals and babies and fashion. Maybe  she’ll grow up and perform critical surgeries internationally with Doctors Without Borders and be renowned for her wisdom and compassion. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she’ll simply plug along in obscurity and become a wife and mom and raise a gaggle of children who test her and challenge her. Maybe someone will see her in the grocery store wearing her sleeping baby and swaying gently while comparing tomato sauce prices.  And this person will feel scales fall off her heart. And she might decide being a mother isn’t such a terrible thing after all and she decides NOT to have an abortion. And that child goes on to become a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor war hero, saving dozens of lives and having the gratitude of their families forever.  Maybe…

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babyThere will be another child next spring. The seventh. Who will this person be? Will he be brilliant at math? Will she be an athlete? Have a love for architecture or social justice? Maybe this child will grow up to found a new, important religious order. Maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll just pick up a stranger’s tab in a restaurant one day and that man has a restored faith in humanity and goes on to serve the poor and pay forward the message of love. Maybe…

Desires to announce this pregnancy have long since been replaced with trepidation. Not because of the child. We know that despite the challenges of large family life, this one was fearfully and wonderfully made. He or she will introduce us to yet another new, never before experienced love that we wouldn’t be able to do without once we know it. We are tired of hearing how irresponsible we are. Tired of the pity, the worry, the disgust. Because they don’t understand. Love is eternal. And new levels and dimensions of love through each and every single one of our children have only proven to better our lives in a million ways. They are our future. They are the jewels in the crown of marriage and we are grateful.

1935034_167437621840_840773_nPeople are worried because we don’t have a ton of money. But our children are always fed and always clothed and always sheltered and always loved. We are immeasurably richer than some of the wealthiest families in the world.

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People wonder if I regret not being able to travel the way my heart has always wanted. Or pursue my personal interests with as much focus as I wish I could. Yes I do. Yes, it hurts. But it is a pain that I know is worth it. I know the journey of love experienced in this new being will far surpass any expedition I could possibly pay for. And no art project or novel or is worth my time, talent and energy as much as raising and teaching these incredibly creative, diverse people who love me back in a way my static creations can not. I have never met a woman who tells me she regrets having the children she did… but I have met many who regret not having more.
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That’s not to say large family life is for everyone. It isn’t! But it is one way to live and it can be a beautiful way. People think there are too many people on this planet. This is not true. The resources are simply inequitably distributed and one of the best ways to solve this problem is to raise compassionate, just, critical thinkers who’ll go on to tackle these issues with clarity and intelligence.

IMG_0208On the other side of the spectrum, mothers of big families often give the impression that it is all perfect peaches and cream. Maybe they are afraid of letting their guard down because the wolves will begin the attack “See! Your life would’ve been so much easier if you just had fewer children!” They gush about how proud they are to have a baker’s dozen and give the impression that they were just born to have babies. Often such women have to consume themselves so much with defending the decision to be open to life that we are afraid of letting people know that it is a struggle. In fact, being open to life does bring heartache and pain and challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable. We don’t have it all figured out. Our bodies have been crucified. Our homes aren’t shiny and sparkly. Our relationships take a lot of effort and a lot of work. We are sometimes weak. We are often tired. But we are always committed to loving them the best we can.  And our trials are paid back a hundred fold with the joys they bring into our lives. This is something most people can’t understand.
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But this is the privilege and honor of motherhood. It is nothing to be defensive about. But it’s also nothing to hide behind and pretend is perfect. We are real and fallen just like you. We aren’t more patient than you, more maternal than you or more pious than you. We simply kiss our Cross and walk up Calvary, not knowing how every step of the way will go or considering how we feel about it all the time. We just do it because we love. We put one faithful step in front of the other because we have committed ourselves to this love. And true love is only found in true freedom. And true freedom is found in the Cross. There will be agony and there will be sorrow. But we are sustained by the promise that the glory of the Resurrection is around the corner.  And that is why we keep saying “Yes” to Love.

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87 thoughts on “A Large Family Manifesto

    1. Leah

      Beautifully said. You are not alone in having had those same experiences as a mother of 10. It has been also the sanctifying process the Lord has used to change my heart and grow in faith. Blessings on your parental journey.

      Reply
  1. Mom

    You have given me enormous joy and much gratitude. I thank you from the depths of my heart. Congratulations to you and Steve. It would be great to be there to help you. Love, love, love you!

    Reply
  2. buz

    it’s not better, it’s not worse, it’s just different from most. our big family is a LOT of work with much suffering along the way…but the joys of seeing them all interact with us, with each other, and with the world make it all worth it. one in college, one in diapers and seven in between. it’s a wonderful life.

    Reply
  3. Carrie

    We love the Peck Family! What a beautiful example of love and holiness in the middle of the normal chaos of large family life.

    Reply
  4. Karen

    Thank you for this! We’re expecting our seventh in March and I feel sad because there’s been a hesitation on my part to even share the good news; as you say, the congratulations are nearly non-existent at this point. But WE are happy and feeling blessed.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Congrats to you too! Some day all the insults and disingenuous smiles will be transformed to your glory… from straw into gold.

      Reply
  5. Rachel

    Y’all keep doing like you’re doing!

    Before I was a Christian I worked at a library. My boss was a middle aged, childless liberal woman who would talk to me about her brother who had 8 kids. He was sort of a curiosity to her, and I kept thinking about this family as well. Up until hearing about them I had no idea that there were Catholics who actually practiced the church’s teaching against contraception. I credit the knowledge of the existence of this beautiful big family as one of the seeds which God used to lead me to Christ and the Catholic Church. By the time I quit that job they had 10 kids. Thanks for being a witness. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Robin Gilman

      “And our trials are paid back a hundredfold in the joys that they bring into our lives. This is something that most people can’t understand.” Amen!

      I am the mother of ten, and I often have thought that if the women that are CEO’s with enormous salaries would know how rewarding this mothering thing is, they would leave their jobs running.

      I am real with the challenges – life is not “picture perfect” by any means, but these individuals that God has gifted us with are amazing – the love and respect they have for me and their dad, makes it all worth it, as well as seeing the people they are.

      Seven of mine are adults, serving God, making a difference in the world in so many ways. There is so much love in our family. Love is not divided, it is multiplied! That is our experience.

      My oldest is 34, my youngest is 11, and my advice to all is “Enjoy the present. Enjoy each season, (I won’t say each moment, they are not all enjoyable!), but enjoy each season…it goes fast.

      In this season, I am actually writing those books (I finished one I started 24 years ago, and am working on another), and that is enjoyable, but not as much as the days of reading to my children with them snuggled all around me and on my lap.

      So while I enjoy my wonderful not-so-little children and grown up children so very much, I do once in a while have a pang for those olden days when everyone lived at home.

      But I am a grandma of one, soon to be two, and that has its own rewards.

      Reply
      1. Knowloveserve Post author

        Thank you for this. I always love hearing the perspective from mothers in different seasons. Blessings to you and yours!

        Reply
  6. Laura

    I love this piece for so many reasons, but one of my favorites is the beautiful and imaginative ways you think about your children’s possible callings. Your openness to the possibilities of their vocations will serve them so well as they discern how to shape their lives in response to God’s call! Thank you – and congratulations!

    Reply
  7. Elisabeth

    Beautifully written. As a mother of 8 I know that our lives are far from perfect. But they are oh, so blessed! Congratulations on your kidlets, each and every one!

    Reply
  8. Ashley

    Thank you for sharing this! I am bawling right now. My husband and I agreed after our 3rd son that we were “done”. We took it Iupon ourselves instead of letting God decide, and it is truly the only thing in my life I regret.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      God heals all hearts Ashley. He knows you and desires to shower you in His mercy. Many blessings to you…

      Reply
  9. Amy

    I have 6 & love each one. My only comment is with the format of each child’s bio. It is made to seem that being a doctor, priest, Pulizter prize winner, or environmental scientist has a higher place in God’s plan than a social worker, foster parent, stay at home mom/dad. or Bio teacher. Everyone has a vocation from God. One is not higher than another. Sometimes even an unwed mother can choose to keep her child & that child can go on to become a Daughter of St. Paul, spreading God’s love through the media,( true story). Sometimes being a plumber’s apprentice . who helps others with his skill is evangelizing, as is, a daughter, who babysits for our friends with autistic children.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      This is interesting that you read it that way Amy. My intention was to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter if my children go on to big careers and worldly accolades… or if they find holiness in the beautiful dignity of simple, unappreciated work. That every human being’s existence is significant and matters even if the world doesn’t recognize it.

      Reply
      1. LoveJusticePeace

        I think I saw it the way you intended: Here is what the world sees as success, and if they can do that great; but they will most likely do these ‘normal’ things which are often more important, more sanctifying, more moving, more holy.

        Thank you

        Reply
  10. Emily De La Torre

    This brings so much emotion to me. I am so blessed to be part of a family that welcomes life with open arms. Thank you. Thank you for giving life to each of your children and continually creating a good example for those struggling with the concept of accepting life.

    “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

    Reply
  11. Jamie

    This is beautiful! We have six: 28,24,22,6,4,&2. We had a big gap in the middle and then felt called to grow our family. We have heard, “You’re crazy!” too many times to count. As well as all the other comments, especially since we are the parents of babies in our 40’s. The worst comment occurred when I was expecting our fourth, I had gone to the high school to take care of something for our 14 year old daughter, this woman looked at my belly and declared, “You are my worst nightmare come true!” All I could think was thank heavens she wasn’t the one blessed with this child! I wouldn’t have our family any other way. Watching our grown children interact with their little sisters is amazing and special, what a gift we have been granted by a loving Father.

    Reply
  12. Lee

    I love, simply love each and every word. God grants love and the application of your love is beautiful.

    CONGRATULATIONS on your new baby! I’m overjoyed for all of you.

    Reply
  13. Jennifer

    Congratulations on the new and up-coming family member! I love the way you demonstrated your heart in the way you described your children… each one called specifically to their own task and only God knows what those will be. Large or small, normal or extraordinary… all important and vital to the purpose for which they are designed and intended. I have 8 children ages almost 4 up to 21… 5 girls and three boys. They are each so incredibly unique and yet make the most complete and wonderful family. My first husband decided after our 6 children that he wanted a different life… that was in 2005 when I became a single mom for the first time. In 2008 I married someone I thought I knew… we had 2 boys together whom I love dearly… we are in the process of a divorce and I became a single mom again in 2012 when I left with the children… long story, but leaving was the only choice I could make. This road has never been easy, but I am always grateful for each one of the lives God me the blessing of shepherding toward His destiny for them. Parenting all of them is an incredible and amazing journey that has deepened my faith and changed my heart, my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined. I am so blessed and so grateful… I remember what it was like to stand where you stand and I know what it is to stand in that place alone as well. Treasure every moment and continue to live the example you want others to see of intentionally valuing and welcoming each life as a gift. You will never regret it!

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Thank you for your encouragement and witness to the fact that no matter the circumstances, all life is a gift!

      Reply
  14. Michell

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written piece! I too love the imaginative way you order your children’s future. We have four little 6 G, 5 B, 4 G, and 1 B. One is reading and writing and creating stories of her own, two is sounding out words and loves to build, three is in diapers at night and a spit fire, and four is beginning to walk and just very passionately expressed his desire to feed himself with fork and spoon! They are beautiful and so unique.
    If I may ask for your prayers as we are trying our best at abstaining to avoid another pregnancy right now as I get my health in check so that I might have a chance to have a non-high risk pregnancy for once and hopefully more. I have reached a goal of doctor monitored weight loss of 20+lbs and am striving for my next goal of another 10 as I continue to reach each goal for a total of 50lbs all together. My liver is unhealthy and needs to be healed so that I may have more babie when God sees fit. I look forward to the day that my husband and I may let go and let God bless us with another beautiful being to protect and grow in my womb and teach to be a wonderful person to add to this world in an effort to make it a better place. Thank you again for your encouraging words! I will be sharing this with as many people as possible.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      I said a prayer for you Michelle…. health issues and abstinence issues are their own flavor of Calvary! Best wishes and I pray for your peace of mind most of all.

      Reply
  15. Libby P

    Thank you so much for this… I’m also expecting my seventh this March. I absolutely know that feeling of trepidation at announcing to those outside of our family and close Catholic friends. I smile and say with as much joy as I can muster that yes my hands are full but so is my heart! Thanks again!

    Reply
  16. Kristin

    This was so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me 🙂 I am so touched that I could cry!
    I saw a woman in Costco with her very large family, and my husband (we have no children yet) looked at the family as if they were all crazy and inconvenient. I saw them and wanted to be a part of them…my heart opened up and I thought that mother was the coolest mom I had ever seen. And the dad was too! Everyone’s life has a different story and a different cross to bear. I just want you to know that I admire you and am so thankful for families like yours in this world. You rock, mamma!

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Thanks Kristin! And yes! We all have our own hidden crosses… let’s pray for each other.

      Reply
  17. Carrie

    Your family is beautiful! You have everything right. Couples with children always admit their children are everything to them. I don’t know why they can’t see that each one adds more meaning and love, not less. Hearts always expand.

    Reply
  18. Mike M

    I am one of 8 and between us we have 47 children. Two of my sisters have 11, two others and I have six, two 3’s and a 1! We have wonderful summer campouts and holiday parties. We all have a sense of humor about snide comments, I treat them as attempts at humor and laugh with the person. I have to say I get more wistful “I wish we had more” remarks than anything else. When I see my sisters larger families I think “I wish we had more!”

    Great article!

    Reply
  19. Katie

    I am in tears. Thank you for these beautiful words! I am pregnant with my fourth and feeling nervous about announcing because we received such negative comments when announcing our third. Your words have given me courage and solace knowing that I’m not alone in the life that I’ve chosen.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      You’re not alone. And your tears will be counted each and every one and added to your heavenly reward. Congratulations to you!

      Reply
  20. Ron

    Beautiful testimony. My wife shared this on her Facebook. We have 7 children and 2 miscarriages. After the first, doctors in 3 states said we would never conceive again. The children are the best part of us. I watch family and friends that took the “limit the kids” path to make sure everyone went to college and the parents had a comfortable retirement. Now, they are comfortable and miserably lonely. God calls children a blessing and I see no reason to argue with Him.

    Reply
  21. Momto7Rachel

    What a beautifully written post. Thank you for omyour words and sharing your heart. And congratulations on #7!
    We have 7 ourselves, two of which were a little “unplanned”, but completely a blessing! Our boys are 9, 8, and 6. Then the girls are 5, and 3. We got licensed to adopt a little over a year ago, then of course ended up pregnant. And no, it wasn’t twins. We got a foster/adopt placement of a newborn boy in March, then gave birth to a daughter in June. If you think the looks and comments are crazy for #7 you should imagine them when #6 is only a month old and you are very CLEARLY pregnant☺️
    Our large family is a tremendous blessing. I wish I could share it as beautifully as you have.
    Christ’s richest blessings to you!

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      What a gift your family is to the world! I love when I hear about regular families adopting… it’s a call for so many people… not just a “second best” option for the childless. Thank you.

      Reply
  22. Jamie Salvucci

    Wow, beautifully written. I am new to your blog. I have a small family compared to most in my circles. Just 4 kids. With each new baby I see my family (immediate and extended) fall in love again and I wonder how they can deny the fact that children are a gift.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Thank you Jamie… the blessings of children are so obvious to all but the most hardened of hearts.

      Reply
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  24. brownie

    I’m one of those women who were taught to have no children and I complied, to my regret at age 62. When I take my vacation to Europe, I’ll still know that it doesn’t compare with having a love like I have never known. I’m so happy for your family.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      I know a few others like you and my heart goes out to them. I think all we can do is the best we know how in each moment… trusting everything else to the mercy of God. He knows you and loves you and wants your happiness…

      Reply
  25. Mandy P

    Thank you. I am expecting my 5th and we have been hesitant to announce it over social media for similar reasons. You have inspired me to do it despite the naysayers. God bless you and your family!

    Reply
  26. Kaitlin-More Like Mary

    The “Congratulations” were absent for our THIRD! Third!!!

    Thank you for writing this. The Holy Spirit spoke right through you and I’m so grateful I got to read it.

    Reply
  27. Cari

    You have a lovely family–you are truly rich with blessings! I have carried 13 in my womb, given birth to 11, and been given the honor of raising ten. The oldest is 24 and the youngest is two, and nine are still in our home. Each is an amazing human being, uniquely crafted by their Creator, as are each of yours. It is so sad to me that our society views children as a burden instead of the blessing that they are. Thank you for sharing the beauty of welcoming children, and for raising many quality human beings. May the Lord bless your pregnancy and your family.

    Reply
  28. Erin

    Beautiful my friend, just beautiful{{}}
    and Congrats on your upcoming little one, thrilling news!!!
    Yes many are cruel, though sometimes some of the comments are well meaning.
    Funny thing we found when I was pregnant with number 10 was we seemed to have ‘changed status’.
    We began having women (in their late 40s+) telling us how they regretted not having more. Also instead of the crazy status we seemed to have moved into superparent status. Not necessarily true nor fair but interesting to have seen a shift.
    Keep enjoying your little ones and so pleased you introduced them too us:)

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Really cool to hear that Erin! Maybe there is a point when you surpass “lunatic” status and enter into “myth” or “legend”… ha! I love it.

      Reply
  29. SharonPlus6

    I love this article! You have perfectly expressed my frustration with having a large family in this 2-kid society. God bless you!

    Reply
  30. Ashley

    This was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I’ve been feeling down about some of the reactions I’ve gotten from my third pregnancy in three years and it was like God showed me this post to lift my spirits. Thank you for writing. I will look back on this often when I need reminding of the beauty within the struggle 🙂

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      I’m glad it was hopeful for you. In writing it, I too, was helped to make peace about everything… God is good.

      Reply
  31. Philumina

    I thank you and praise God for the beautiful and challenging example you put forth into the world, paving the way in the countercultural movement of love and generosity. I have much respect for you and the other mothers who have made reply to your post.

    My experience with big families comes from a different angle so far, not as mother but as child. I am the third of nine wonderful human beings. I cherish my eight siblings and am grateful to my parents for them. I know the looks you get in grocery stores, and grew up hearing from strangers, “Wow, are they *all* yours?” Since bring a newlywed, friends have asked me how many kids we want, and laugh when I respond, “Thirteen!” But really, who are we to count?

    You’ve taken up a particular Cross and carried it with grace. Thank you for sharing your life so exquisitely. I am glad my sister sent me this piece!

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      I am number 5 of nine myself… and I am so, so thankful my parents didn’t “stop” after me. My adult siblings mean the world to me…

      Reply
  32. Jenny

    What a wonderful post, and I could relate to it so much! We had our first child 10 months after we married, our second child 22 months after that. That was mostly okay with people because the spacing was *almost* two years and now we had a daughter and a son, so we could “stop.” And then we had our third 18 months later, which was received as absolutely insane but thankfully he was such a sweet, cute, and easy baby that we were excused as “lucky.” Someone told my husband that “this wouldn’t happen if you just kept it in your pants.” !!!!
    None of these babies were planned, but all are loved and I can’t imagine life without them. Oh, and I should mention that all three were conceived despite using contraception (before we were Catholic).
    And now, that last baby is almost 2, and I’m starting to wish for another addition to the family. We have some good financial reasons to wait, and thanks to learning NFP we now feel pretty competent at the whole “family planning” thing. But…there is a part of me that is still in avoidance mode because of what other people will think or say. And that’s a terrible reason.
    Thanks for your sharing; it is nice to know that we’re not the only family swimming against the tide.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Best wishes to you! NFP is a painful and beautiful cross sometimes… I pray you stay strong against the cultural naysayers!

      Reply
  33. Diane

    Your article brought me to tears! My oldest brother has six children, my oldest sister has three, next brother has eight, ME – NONE, my younger sister has eight, my little brother is just getting married and wants “a soccer team”. Any child is a gift, a blessing to rejoice over. People that respond negatively have no idea how hurtful they are being…
    My husband and I knew going into our late marriage (I was 37) that it would be a miracle if I could 1. conceive a child and 2. carry to term. We looked into adoption but it isn’t viable for us.
    So now, we’re planning our eventual retirement and looking forward to traveling…all the while, I have guilt that my siblings will be ‘jealous’ that they never got to see America like we’re planning. But my heart aches for what they have…those dear little ones.
    Rejoice in your blessings and have pity for the people that can’t see them as blessings. Sadly, our world has stopped rejoicing in life and only condemns it.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      Thank you for this comment. I am always reminded how all of us are carrying our own secret (or public) crosses. God is good to offer so many different paths to sanctification…

      Reply
  34. lifeknight

    As an only child, my greatest joy is to be the mother of nine.
    God took one, but the eight left have been my life’s greatest blessing.
    How can we give that love to the world, if not to love in our own families.

    Reply
  35. Amanda

    I am so happy for you Ellie! You are such an inspiration and such a courageous woman. You have forever changed my whole family in ways no one ever expected. Your family is beautiful. I cannot wait to start a family of my own and I may too soon hear the opinions of people thinking I need to wait before starting a family. Your writing and descriptions of your family leave pictures of dancing smiling children (and maybe some grass, jelly, died bread crumbs and sand on the kitchen floor).

    Reply
  36. Jessi Ann

    I found you through Carrots for Michaelmas and I am so glad I did. This is so beautiful. I love how you demonstrate so well that each child is unique and a person. It is so tempting for people looking in, or planning families in the future, to think of children as numbers and commoditizing them. And you combat that mentality so eloquently.

    My husband and I are infertile, and it breaks my heart when I hear of another friend or family member who make themselves infertile chemically or surgically because they “got one of each” or have “had enough”. Breaks. My. Heart. And in our society, even in our Church, it is hard to be willing to take the beautiful, difficult challenge of a big family if you are alone, or worse, mocked and derided. I so wanted to be an apologist for large families for them, to show them that love doesn’t stop with two, or three, or seven if God allowed it. But he didn’t. And that is okay. We have adopted a little darling girl and have been able to be an apologist for loving babies and their mothers, even before they’re born, even after they’re born, even in the hard stuff. Who knows if we will be able to afford to adopt siblings for our little one, but I hope she is able to know large families even if she isn’t a part of one, so she won’t fear it if she has a family of her own.

    Reply
    1. Knowloveserve Post author

      What a beautiful note and a beautiful message to everyone; God bless you in everything…! Thanks for chiming in.

      Reply
  37. John B

    This essay/blog post puts to words the stresses and even greater joys that my wife and I feel about our seven kiddos. (Age 17 to 1). We know all the unintentionally nasty comments. My wife has taken enjoyment to responding to the “…don’t you know what causes this?” comments with “… Yes, we really like sex!” Haha!

    Besides being a husband and Dad, I lead Campus Ministry at a high school and coordinate RCIA at our small parish. In my estimation, the Church is in desperate need for courageous yet honest voices for the openness to God’s plan in family life. Too many people today in our society (including personal friends) mistake these Church teachings “for a shackle and chains” as opposed to a means of freedom and unbridled joy.

    So, thank you again!

    I plan to share this with some of my students and my fellow faculty.

    Please, please, if the other comments are any indication, then keep writing on behalf of families who are open to God’s plans (including those who would have enjoyed a big family but could not). I know my wife and I struggle at times to find fellowship with other large families. You may have the chance to create a little spiritual community here where we can all feel at home.

    Reply
  38. Pingback: A Large Family Manifesto | Vie de cirque

  39. Mar

    Beautiful post Ellie and congratulations! I found you through http://viedecirque.com/. I have nine children ages 29 to 11 – all gifts from God. People and relatives have thought we were crazy over the years but as our children have grown up, they themselves have been witnesses of kindness, love, and generosity. Your children too will become ambassadors of the joyful life of a family open to life, centered on Christ. God bless you. Here is my blog if you would like to visit. http://www.mithriluna.wordpress.com

    Reply
  40. Jayne

    Thank you so much. It’s funny, I read this and it touched me so much that I shared it on FB. I wish everyone in my life who doesn’t get it would read this. Then I read your blog right before it on how it’s ok to be hated and misunderstood. Then I realized that part of the cross of a large family truly is to be hated and misunderstood. 😊 Anyway, thank you for such a beautiful article. You articulated all the things I have felt over the years. (We have nine kids.) Peace to you and your family.

    Reply
  41. Roxanne Mann

    I’m a mama to 11 – 8 boys, 3 girls … ages 27 to 4 and what you’ve written resonated with me very deeply. I wanted to comment because you mentioned not being able to travel as much as you’d like and I want to encourage/inspire you that having a larger-than-average family is even more reason to travel. My beloved husband and I travel fulltime in our fifth wheel rv with 10 of our children. We’ve been on the road for almost 4 years and we’ve explored 38 states & 4 Canadian provinces. Lewis works in IT and works from whenever we are. We love this lifestyle so much that we don’t have plans of ever settling down and buying another non-mobile house!! Check us out on FB and Instagram @MannThereTheyGo 🙂

    Reply
  42. Mary

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My first 2 daughters are 2 weeks shy of 3 years apart. My hubby and I waited for a little over a year to have our first little Sweetum. Then nearly 2 years later, we started trying for our second Darling. We had managed to do really well with NFP up until recently, when I learned that I was pregnant again. It came after a 3 month separation between my hubby and I. I got a little off track with the numbers. LOL. Anyhow, the comments started rolling in right away. My youngest was only 5 or 6 months when I learned of the pregnancy, and many of the people who were so anxious for us to get started having children at the beginning of our marriage suddenly turned nasty.
    I am now 35 weeks 2 days pregnant and I have really just recently began to be excited about this new little Love growing inside of me. We are not catholic, but we are open to God’s plan for our family. However, just last night I was thinking that maybe 3 children is enough. Well-meaning people have talked to me about getting my hubby snipped, or me getting on contraceptives. We are interested in neither. God opens and closes the womb as He pleases. While there always seems to be some strange occurrence surrounding the birth of our children that throws me into PPD or anxiety , I am hopeful that this time will be more joyful than any other. Again, thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  43. Elizabeth Garcia

    I loved reading this. My husband and I have 8 children ages 28, 26, 25, 24, 22, 20, 18 & 15. We are not Catholic but believe that God opens and closes the womb and trusted Him with our family size. I would not trade our life with anyone. It is not always peaches and cream but whose life is? Our children are amazingly loving, caring individuals and they are ALL best friends. We got looks and silly questions when they were little and all at home and I chose to respond with equally silly answers. You are right when you say more women regret fewer or no children than not. I too have never heard a mom say she wished her child or children had never been born. Congratulations on your newest. I pray God’s continued blessings on you and your family.

    Reply
  44. Stephanie Fehler

    as a mom of eight, this totally spoke to me. Long ago, i learned to listen to God instead of people. If they say nice things, I enjoy it, and if they’re nasty – i do what Ruth Bell Graham suggested “Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes”… I’m 43 now and my husband would like one more baby :)… we’ve been open to life all along, and “baby” is 4. We may be all done having children, and i’m okay with that if that’s the path God has for us. But the beauty and joy of having brought these little ones into the world, the privilege of being their mama, of learning through them the deep, deep love of Jesus for His own – i would not trade a minute of it.

    Reply
  45. Jessie H

    Thank you so much for this post. My dream for the last couple years has been to have a large family. 7 is my husband and my lucky number so that is what we are shooting for. Unfortunately, we already have 2 children in heaven. Our first two attempts at pregnancy resulted in miscarriages. However, I’ve taken this experience as a call from God to adopt children. We may end up with 7 different children from 7 different families. I can’t wait!

    Reply

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