This morning I went to the grocery store with my kids. The nice cashier talked to all three of my kids and complimented me on how precious they were (I agree, naturally). She asked Will how old he was and asked if he was starting kindergarten this year. When he said "yes" she turned to me and said with a smile "Oh good, you can get him out of the house for a while". I explained to her that we were homeschooling to which she replied, "Oh, don't homeschool! Give yourself a break and get him out of there!".
This was sad to me on a few levels, but the main thing that disappointed me was that she said this right in front of my soon-to-be-five-year-old. She switched from her baby talk to her adult voice in about half a second. Then she turned to the lady behind me in line who had also commented on how cute they were and said, "They are precious, but aren't you glad they're not yours? Mine are grown, thank goodness!"
Look, I get it. We all have days where boarding school sounds like a viable option. After the last couple of weeks with my 3-year-old I have seriously considered putting her on an airplane to stay with her grandparents for the remainder of the summer. I have had more than a few days where I want to pull my hair out and I look enviously at the childless women doing whatever in the world she wants with her day. Doesn't everyone experience this with their respective jobs? But think about how my kids perceived what that woman said. Sometimes people think they can't hear them because they're young. Trust me, they are soaking up every word. Even if they don't fully understand it, they are getting the message that they are burdens. They are picking up signals that Mommy would be much happier if they were out of the house during the day. Even if this wasn't the intention of our friendly cashier, she subtly told my children that they are not important enough for my days to be this exhausting.
I didn't walk out of the store angry or bitter but concerned that my kids know how much I love them and how thankful I am that I can be at home with them every day. Yeah, the days get long. Sure, I look forward to the times I get to run to the grocery store alone. But so many times fellow parents, even professing Christians, I run into act as if the choice to have children is all about me, myself and I. Many people are surprised at the number of children my husband and I have, especially once they hear our age. They laugh and say, "You guys are crazy! I got so tired after two that I had to quit."
When you think about it, we usually only have a fraction of our children's lives that involve that daily sacrifice that makes everyone so tired. Obviously, we always worry about, love, and take care of our children until we die. However, that intense instruction and correction is only for a while and then they're gone. God has chosen to use us to create these people and we have no idea what He is going to use them for. We hope it's some sort of service in His army. It's unlikely they'll be President, but think about all the lives that they are going to touch in one way or another. That is part of His plan. God planned everything about the person that happens to be your child. He chose you to care for him/her. It's a privilege, not a decision we base on our dream of opening our own donut shop. Having children is one of the most important jobs we are given and I do not want to tell God I am unwilling to accept another child because I just started sleeping through the night. Am I seriously unwilling to give up sleep for another person made in His image?
It is not my place or my intention to tell anyone how many children to have. My main concern is that the world's view of children not seep into the way we bring up our own children in the Lord. It's subtle and it's usually said with a smile, but the world does not want us to value parenting. They want to tell us that we should be comfortable and that we need a break. Be aware and ready to kindly defend your most important work.