We're expecting number seven! This blessing is due in March. Please keep us in your prayers. As always this comes as a joyful surprise.
I'm certain that in the coming weeks and months I will encounter the polite, incredulous, and the occasional awe-full statement. It is frequently the subject of mothers and fathers of large families, how to respond to such comments. Several years ago, I decided that the best response was to be polite and honest or deaf, if necessary.
In my teenage years and early twenties, I was a zing-factory. I loved witty retorts, ripostes, zingers, come backs, rejoinders, upbraids, knocks, and slams. The longer I have been a mother, the more I have borne witness to how one word well placed can uplift or crush a little spirit.
I am not particularly sagacious or profoundly Christian, but seeing how my children blossom or shrink with a look, a smile, a word, made me realize that others would likely respond in kind. Mother Theresa famously said that she saw Christ in the dead and dying men and women she and her sisters found in the gutter. That because she loved Him, she would do for them that she found. How I wish I had that depth of soul that possessed that tiny Albanian woman.
Anyway, it is her that I think of when I think about how I should respond to the jokes, jibes, remarks, questions, inquisitions, diatribes, and the seldom insults. I want to be a positive witness for my vocation as a wife and a mother.
I am reading this as I type away and shuddering at the 'I-I-I' of it all, but I did want to tell you what I say and why I say just in case you have lots of children and wonder what to say to.
My response to statements of: "You must have a lot of patience." and the like:
We live in a time when women can train for any career they aspire to. So should one choose medicine or accounting or the culinary arts as her vocation of choice, she can enroll and embark on her grand career beginning with many years of study and training (a mere 12 years just to be a General Practitioner of Medicine). Upon graduation and hanging out her shingle, she will continue her education and training at regular intervals so as never to fall behind the latest trend or technique in her chosen field.
Should a woman choose the godly vocation of wife and mother there is a sort of jealous resentment that crops up from time to time (okay, some might not recognize it as jealousy, but it is a jealousy inspired by the devil. That it be difficult to recognize as such befits the Father of Lies). There are no schools of wifely studies. Likewise there are no preparatory courses for motherhood. Therefore it takes time to understand and to learn this vocation just like any other career. If women were to give themselves the time to make the mistakes and hazard the long hours of motherhood, then they too could experience the successes and glories of their careers.
Generally, one of three things happens:
- the Hearer's eyes glaze over. Bored from the didacticism and lengthy reply they have just received they are anxious to get away, and thus they politely excuse themselves.
- the Hearer admits that they had never considered this before and they politely compliment my "wisdom"
- the Hearer is genuinely moved, takes heart upon the telling of these things and admits to feeling bored or not up to the task or inept, etc. Generally a very nice conversion begins from there.