A Quiver Full

By Stephanie

My ever-growing belly attracts enough attention as it rounds every corner a few minutes before the rest of me does. But observe me going pretty much anywhere with my three other children and we’re a full-on show. We get the stares and the whispers and the “you poor thing” looks from strangers no matter how well behaved my children are being at the time. Because LOTS of children MUST mean something awful for a mother, right?

Not necessarily.

I remember the first big outing we had to the mall once I began showing with this pregnancy. Hubby pushed Gray in the stroller while the older boys walked quietly beside me and my baby bump. It was the first time I’d experienced the big eyes and voices that clearly were within earshot. And I’m sure if you quizzed those bystanders after we were long gone that they would say we had seven or eight kids. It was just the five of us at the time, but apparently any more than the standard two children gets multiplied and seems like a whole lot more.

I’ve probably done the same thing before, when I only had one or two or none. But being on this side of a big family, it doesn’t seem like that many. They are like my little ducks in a row sometimes. We are not drill sergeants in any way, but we discipline with love and consistency and we just happen to fall into place like a well-run machine.

Most of the time.

Of course there are the days (more often than not, probably) when my belly knocks over an entire display of Hershey candy. And Gray snags a pack of Tic-Tacs and opens them and spills them out all over the checkout line. And they whine and plead and stomp about some fruit snacks they wanted with Superman on the box.

Of course those are the times people are definitely looking and paying attention. But do I let it phase me? Not usually. Depends on my mood. I definitely have my moments where I can’t wait for hubby to walk through that door at the close of a day. Whether I run off down the street like a free woman or just retreat upstairs to finally have some quiet time, there are necessary moments to be alone when you are surrounded by a big family.

But there are so many more moments of fulfillment and contentment and wholeness.

It’s not for everyone- a gaggle of young ‘uns. But so far, it’s definitely for us. And probably for that family that takes up a whole pew at church or entire back section of your favorite restaurant. Just remember that maybe they actually enjoy having that many kids… they do “know what causes it”… and most likely they prefer their arms be full than empty.

Stephanie writes (and patiently waits for her new baby) daily at Adventures In Babywearing.

43 Responses to A Quiver Full
  1. Kathryn
    September 12, 2008 | 12:07 am

    Amen! I can’t help but get my undies in a bunch when people make comments to me like, “You’re crazy!” or “Look at all those kids!” It drives me nuts! I only have 3 for goodness sakes!
    Great post!

  2. Linda
    September 12, 2008 | 4:51 am

    I could imagine that Kathryn.

    Lovely post.

  3. se7en
    September 12, 2008 | 6:21 am

    Love your post!!! I wish people were a tad more sensitive!!! Just a quick dash to the store (with 7 under 10!!!) is a public display of show and tell – with trails of people whispering (not very quietly) and sniggering – means I always think twice before stepping out! The public attention for going against the grain can be really really daunting. But the rewards quite outweigh the public pressure!!! Enjoy your little ones – they are such a blessing.

  4. Erin
    September 12, 2008 | 6:40 am

    I come from a big family, and we always had so much fun. I suppose it’s all in perspective, but when I see big families out, I just get a little jealous because I don’t have that…yet!

  5. Tonya
    September 12, 2008 | 8:15 am

    Oh I get comments all the time about my 4. I usually say something like how much of a blessing they are or that I have my hands full of hugs and kisses. Yesterday I met a friend for lunch I only had two and she had two. I sat with the four all 3 years old and under. And man the looks and comments I got and they weren’t all mine! Too funny.

  6. Michelle
    September 12, 2008 | 8:37 am

    Thank you so much for the post. I’m due in Nov with #3, another little girl to add to my other two, ages 3 and 5. As I’m waddling around now with my two little girls in public I definintely get ‘the look’. That poor you look (that even I get with only the 2 and preggers). Or so many people have to comment on the ‘Oh… you must have been trying for that boy’. Um… no. We always wanted 3. Is it so hard to understand that some families want more than the standard 2 kids? No matter what the sex… I’m thrilled with another little girl and know my daughters will grow up with their best friends around them, their sisters.

    So thank you. Thank you for the post and making my heart feel full for all my little girls.

  7. MaggieLousMommy
    September 12, 2008 | 8:43 am

    Amen!! I only have one (so far) but I can’t stand to see people judge the number of children that a family chooses to have. Whether it’s one or ten, it’s only that family’s business.

  8. Monica
    September 12, 2008 | 9:12 am

    It’s so funny what people think is a “big” family. I think a large family is at least 5 children. I have four. I get those comments from strangers all the time (you must be so busy, you’re hands are full, etc.) and I laugh to myself.

    At church we are the second largest family. The largest family has five children, and I think they are stopping there. I bet we all know a mom with double that amount.

    I remember those days of being great with child – I really needed to mentally (and spiritually) prepare before I went out in public. The stares, oy!

  9. Stacey
    September 12, 2008 | 9:17 am

    I come from an area where larger families are still quite normal, so you wouldn’t get weird looks for having JUST 4 children here 🙂 I’m from a family of 4, but there are many larger families in our church. So far I feel like we have a very family oriented community. I hope it stays that way. And I hope that people will rather see how much you love your children. If more people like you would have more kids, this world could be a wonderful place one day 🙂

  10. Kristin
    September 12, 2008 | 9:19 am

    Love it! I’m already getting the poor you with the third boy on the way, I’m sure you’ve experienced that too! It has struck me as funny that most people just assume that we are done, we couldn’t possibly have more than three!

  11. Cyndi
    September 12, 2008 | 9:30 am

    I don’t think 4 us all that many. I guess in our society it is though. I just feel sorry for a mom when she has one that still can’t walk and looks like she is going to have another any day. That has to be rough.

  12. Octamom
    September 12, 2008 | 9:30 am

    You can imagine the scene we cause with our 8! And, oh yeah, the comments when I was at full-term with the twins and we would be out with the whole crew….some folks acted like we were a Lock Ness or a Big Foot sighting! We always just laugh along!

    Great post!

  13. Miche
    September 12, 2008 | 10:11 am

    I loved your post; I couldn’t have said it better. And even with two, I get comments about them being so close in age ESP when Little Dude is acting out, so no worries, there are always people to comment on what you do no matter what.

  14. Linda F.
    September 12, 2008 | 10:58 am

    I am probably one that might stare a little bit, but it’s because I always LOVE to see large families, especially when the kids are enjoying each other. I can imagine the entertainment that parents get from having so many more little personalities in a household.

    When I see kids frustrating a mom, I may think “poor thing” but not because she has so many kids, only that parenting can really be hard at times for parents with any amount when things get out of control, especially when our hormones kicks our patience out the door. But I also know that a large family has that much more love to share with each other.

  15. Kelly
    September 12, 2008 | 11:24 am

    Great post, Stephanie. We’re hoping for at least four. (Maybe adoption after four of our own? We’ll see.) So while I haven’t experienced any stares yet — or maybe I’m just too busy to notice — I have to believe that’s in my future.

    I’m somewhat curious, though, if the area of the country would determine how many stares you get. For example, is the Midwest more accepting of larger families?

  16. Jen
    September 12, 2008 | 11:31 am

    As one of those people with “empty arms” and is for the most part okay with it (for now) I am more or less amazed at how you do it! I would like to have a boatload too, although reality sets in and I think about things like how to put 4-5 kids through college. Let alone pay my mortgage. In this day and age, it’s a money thing for me. I know you understand. But then again, I don’t live in the cheapest city in the world either! I have a blog in the works about this topic as well, I’ll be sure to send a link.

  17. Lizz
    September 12, 2008 | 12:54 pm

    Oh, I hear you. I get my fair share of stares with three. It’s a good thing my oldest is tall or I’d probably get more stares with 3 who are 3 and under. Of course, this is how I came up with the name of my blog. No kidding my hands are full, but usually it is with good things.

    Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about meltdowns in the grocery store. 🙂 Nope, not me.

  18. Moriah
    September 12, 2008 | 2:31 pm

    Great post!

    I get so tired of hearing “OH, you have your hands full!” (Oh really? Didn’t notice. But thanks for pointing it out to me.)

  19. Blessedw5mom (Heather)
    September 12, 2008 | 4:35 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this Stephanie! I took 5 kiddos looking at model homes yesterday … and by some looks you would think I had publically created a mortal sin! (and the kids were all very quiet and very polite) I figured they need to live in the new house too, I wanted their input. I’m so much happier that my arms are full … its simply woderful! So I guesse just ignore those who want to pity us

  20. nicole
    September 12, 2008 | 4:41 pm

    So you said all my thoughts much more coherently and nicely. Can’t wait to hear baby news.

  21. Kris
    September 12, 2008 | 5:00 pm

    Well said! Hear, hear!!!

    We all-too-recently did a transatlantic move with three little ones under five, a teen, and a cat (all whilst our oldest preceeded us to report to basic training) and my WAY preggo belly…we actually had people in the Frankfurt International Airport stopping to take pictures of our entourage, as if it were some international phenomena!

    Society’s values are in the wrong place. I’d much rather have a full quiver than an overflowing bank account ANY day.

  22. Amy
    September 12, 2008 | 7:26 pm

    I love this post! I am gawked at often – but usually my 4 kids are behaving too. I got the best compliment yesterday as we stopped at the bank in the grocery, the teller says “You have the best kids – they are always so well behaved.” I told her “Thank You” of course, and let her know it is a lot of work – but so worth it. . . loving, consistent discipline 🙂

    My husband and I decided early on that there’s never a great time to have kids, scheduling or fiscally – but God always provides. We are so glad to have our arms full!

  23. Carrie (Reading to Know)
    September 12, 2008 | 10:16 pm

    WELL said! Great post. My husband and I look forward to having a large family. This inevitably causes people to pause and wonder if we are in our right minds.

    You are right – it isn’t for everyone. But it is for some. And it is enjoyable.

    Thanks for your comments on the topic!

  24. Jennifer, Snapshot
    September 13, 2008 | 12:06 pm

    I am happier NOT having my arms full, but I love this post, especially what you said about when you see them think that they might actually like having a family that big.

    My two children can wreak havoc on a situation quite suitably! In fact, most large families I know behave better, because they have to.

  25. Cynthia
    September 14, 2008 | 10:36 pm

    A few months ago, I was getting a cart at Wal-Mart (one with the toddler seats on the front, which are so conveniently kept outside at the end of the store) with my 3 children. A woman was standing there, and she asked if they were all mine. I said, “Yes ma’am.” She said, “You must have nerves of steel!” I was just amazed that someone would say that to a stranger. My kids were not misbehaving at all, and I never really thought of 3 kids as being a huge number! I guess everyone has their ideas, but not everyone knows when to keep them to themselves! As someone else mentioned, the number of kids you have is no one else’s business…just do your own thing!

  26. Stacey
    September 15, 2008 | 1:36 pm

    I am always amazed at how people say “poor lady” to anyone with more than one young child. I am sorry, but I LOVE having my 3 little ones. They are all under the age of 5 and we have one more on the way. I can’t wait to hear the comments when I have this little one arrive and go out. One time, I even overheard a woman say to her friend, “OMG, if I was that woman, I would be sitting in the corner with a bottle of booze crying”. I said, “Thanks for your support. It’s so helpful!”. She didn’t know what to say to that and I kept on walking with my gaggle. Some people!!

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