Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I never should have had eight children

A few months back, I told you how to raise eight children without even trying. Today, I'm going to tell you why I never should have had eight children in the first place. Had I listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.

When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough "mommy material" for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business -- no business! -- having another baby. Not now, not ever.

All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it*:

I can't cook.
I can't grocery shop.
I can't bring the kids out alone without help.
I have nooooo patience.
I am not crafty in the least.
I can't sew.
I can't throw a party.
I'm not athletic or outdoorsy.
I don't know how to make a pretty home.
I don't know how to make anything fun.
I am lazy and a procrastinator.
I'm used to being served, not serving.
I am sarcastic and cranky.
I am a complainer.
I like to be alone.
I hate to be interrupted or inconvenienced.
I am not particularly good with children.

In that moment, I knew all of these things. And I was discouraged. Any one of these reasons could be enough for a woman to convince herself that it's imprudent to have another child. In fact, you might just be saying to yourself now, "My gosh, that Bubble woman shouldn't have one child, much less eight!"

But see, there's the thing: Moms of big families are told constantly by other women that "I couldn't do what you do!" or "You must have so much patience!" or "You must have a real way with children!" They think we were given a special gift or have a mutant gene that they do not possess. But they have no idea how much we are just like them. In fact, most of the women who say those things to me are better suited to raise a large family than I.

As I stood there in the kitchen that night, a moment of grace overtook the moment of discouragement. How many times had I told others, "Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!" I remembered it then, and my fears and anxieties were banished. Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core, would taunt me with the notion that my lack of gourmet skills should preclude new life in my marriage. I saw the evil of it then, and I called him out. I still cussed a lot back then, and I am pretty sure I told the devil what he could do with his putrid flood of discouraging thoughts. Yeah, that was a good moment.

Since that day, five eternal souls have been created in our family, four of whom my husband and I have the privilege of raising on this earth. And, while I can't claim to have conquered all the deficiencies and vices on my list (not even close! drat!), the existence of all my children has moved me along the path of holiness. Because that's how it works: The souls in your life are gifts, each of whom is meant to sanctify you in a particular way. My little sanctifiers are the artisans who change and mold me in all the ways God knows I need, and they are their father's and their siblings' artisans, too.

That my family exists as it does is living proof that "with God, all things are possible" -- even Leila Miller mothering eight great kids.


Deo gratias.






*In the interest of full disclosure, when I began to write this post a couple of nights ago, I wrote out full paragraphs for each bullet point, explaining my shortcomings in detail. Let's just say by the fifth point, I was so depressed that I couldn't go on! I turned off the computer and went to bed, ha ha!


Related post:  Parenting: What I've Done Right!









.

164 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post, Leila. There have often been times I wonder why God let ME be the mother of my son -- that I'm so undeserving. But that isn't my God discouraging me...And I remember to thank him for the incredible gift he's given me.

    DD

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is funny! Not good with children: that is me! But I've gotten pretty good with my own at least!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil" Wow, I really needed to hear that today.

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I heart you, Leila Miller :)


    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you would write your next post on the time you experienced between child #4 and child #5... because most of your readers probably wouldn't suspect that you have experience in something that many of us struggle with ;) What were those years like for you?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this post! As usual, you've put into words exactly how I feel but can't express! And by the way, I also possess a few of those weaknesses from your list--plus a lot more!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love it! Wouldn't it be great if we could just ask God to sanctify us and He would go, "POOF! YOU'VE BEEN MADE HOLY!" But then we'd miss out on life's experiences. And we'd never really get to see how wise He truly is.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I LOVE your honesty and humility in this post and the truth that shines through-- every soul in our life is gift from God to help with our sanctification...and we to them. I share all your pts to one degree or another, and feel the exact same discouragement at times.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fellow lazy procrastinator and mom of 7 checking in ;-)

    God knows what we need to get to heaven, so he gives us the opportunity...if we only co- operate with grace...with Him!

    Carla
    www.bringinghenryhome.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for your post - I enjoyed it. I believe I can relate to too, too many of the shortcomings you listed! It's got me thinking. I guess I focus too much on my own shortcomings without even realizing it. Oh how I wish I could remember that God can do great things in spite of my own weakness.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hmm, we have almost the same list of faults and I only have 3 kids on earth, (2 in heaven from miscarriage,)
    Thanks for the reminders that our children are little sanctifiers because sometimes I think they contribute to my unholy ways ha ha.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't think anybody really feels like they've "got it all together" or like they're qualified to be a spectacular mom. I certainly don't!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. You footnote, lol!! I love you. Is that weird to say? I'm socially awkward, so I don't know ;)

    Anyway, thank you for this. I needed it today especially. I always have a running list of things to work on, and because of this super long process of getting into a state of grace with the church, I'm getting a little discouraged. I will push through, but it's still hard. Your list could've been written by me.

    My family and complete strangers (my friends are respectful enough not to) tell me I have no business having more kids because we 1. don't have enough money 2. don't own a home yet 3. can't afford to put them through college 4. because it's socially irresponsible, but I know that it's Satan speaking and I will not answer to them. I answer to the Lord, and that's how it should be.

    And from what I've seen of your kids, especially the older ones, you're doing an amazing job, momma.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love this! It's like you hit 'play' on the recording in my head. Thanks for the reality check :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you!! I see so many couples fear/dread having children these days, blind a) to their abilities and b) to God's. My first real "lesson" in this was my own twin sister. Hec, we are SO alike, and even as little girls, we rarely played with baby dolls and often had little interest in babies. I could not relate to girls who ran to hold small children or said all the right things to help a parent out. In fact, if I visited you, I am not sure I'd be that great of a help if you needed it haha. I am just not always in tune with that kind of thing? I believe my sisters value me most for my sisterly relationship with them and opportunity I give them for adult conversation, not so much because I am the star helper or child entertainer haha (although I can proudly say that with my own nieces and nephews, I've been able to bond).

    Anywho, all that to say, when my twin had her first, I "got it." I saw how God can work in each unique situation, each unique parent-child relationship, how he can transform us into parents when before, we were just ladies who had no apparent gifts with children. :)

    Now, if we could just HAVE children. I am honestly getting nervous we'll never have the size family I began dreaming of 7 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Everything on your list applies to me as well. Somehow my children have survived (thanks be to God). I had a complete and utter pregnancy-hormone-induced meltdown on Sunday night over what I saw as my complete and utter failure as a wife and a mother. *sigh* This post has helped me gain back some perspective, so thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much, guys! You know, Kara, I didn't put in the part about "no money" but I could have. That was at a time when we had to have regular financial help from my parents. But I have thought: "That's what family is about…we help each other." It's not a sin to be poor, nor to welcome children into something other than the lap of luxury. And if I had to worry about college funds, I would never have had more than two. The way we approached that is, "You are expected to go to college, and we will help in any way we are able, but you are going to have to get scholarships and work and be smart about it." And after that, we just stopped worrying about it.

    Works for us! :)

    And I should also add that my kids are better people than I am (my oldest even cooks, breaking three generations of hot dog boilers!), so I expect that they will have fewer obstacles on their "lists". But we all have 'em.

    I am really loving the comments, keep 'em coming! :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. JoAnna, I will help get your head back on straight anytime you'd like! Just holler!

    Sarah, great points! I never even diapered a baby till I had my own. Had no idea how to hold one (I was the youngest of two kids and there were NO babies around my family, ever. And I never babysat.) But I always wanted to be a mom. I am thinking of a whole other post I could write on how I am good with them when they are tiny, and then when they are older (teens, so that I can talk to them like adults), but the middle years? Not so great for me, ha ha!

    And, TCIE was talking about a time (between #5 and #6) when we experienced almost two years of infertility. Weird…

    Gosh, I wish I had you all in a room and we could gab.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My family has helped us out a lot. We still live in a home that is owned by my grandparents and pay them very little to live here. But, that's why they think they have a say in how many kids I have. I don't see it the way society does, that no one can afford kids, so I should suppress my fertility because of it. Children are a blessing, we're not always going to be "poor" and hopefully when I'm old my children and grandchildren will be there to help take care of me. God has always provided for us, even in the darkest of times, so I try not to worry about money anymore, even though it's hard, worrying does me no good. The thought of more kids scares me, but I know it will be fine in the end. Love what you said about them being sanctifiers. And an, the middle years are going to kill me, but I'm not sure I'll do well with teens either. I wish they could stay NB-18 mos forever. lol

    ReplyDelete
  19. Well considering I just had a yelling match with my 10 year old over the importance of reverance during prayer time and the need to do school lessons prior to playing with Star Wars toys; and I'm staring at kitchen that might well be better cleaned by taking a flame-thrower to it...

    needless to say, I hear ya.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Leila - Okay this reminds me of a scene that happened 8 or so years ago with my twin haha. She had gone up north to meet her future in-laws. And her SIL had just had her first (first grandbaby - now there are many). Anyway, everyone was enamored with him, and Twin's future-MIL, was so "thoughtful" to hand the chubby little guy over to Twin. She was.so.mortified. Hahaha! She just sitting there awkwardly with baby-she-didn't-know on her lap and had no idea what to do with him. Everyone was just staring at her, this new girlfriend of their brother's, as she just kind of sat there with the baby all stiff and awkward. I wasn't too much better with Dh's little cousins (meanwhile, his family is very natural with all kids). Like you, we were just never around babies much growing up (even though yes, we still desired motherhood very much!). A post on how you relate to your kids at different ages would be interesting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm staring at kitchen that might well be better cleaned by taking a flame-thrower to it...

    Bethany, I wasn't aware we lived in the same house! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Leila, Thank you so much for posting this. My dh and I are just now starting to feel ready for the possibility of another baby (number 2, number 1 is ten months), and of course the litany of reasons why I can't/shouldn't etc., is running through my head. Thank you for reminding me who those messages are really from. Fear is not of God, and it's never a good enough reason to shut the door on Him.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Fun post Leila!

    Oddly enough, I get along well with kiddoes and my friends who are parents often tell me I am good parent material and appreciate my willingness to play with, change diapers, hold, and entertain their babies. But I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to be a parent-just enjoy being with friends' children once in awhile.

    -gwen

    ReplyDelete
  24. Leila,

    Thanks for this post. I love this: "Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!"

    Oh I needed that today! Thank you!!

    Also, I second TCIE's suggestion of a post on the time between children #5 and #6.

    I've always dreamed of being a mother, and love holding babies. I'm not so good with teenagers, but am good with little kids. (or at least I used to be many years ago.)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Leila,
    Awesome post. I was having my own parenting moment last night. The wife and I were talking about a possible cross country move and how it would affect Tommy, and just thinking about him growing to adulthood hit me.

    I griped and complained about how unfair it is that he has such a burden in life and why did it have to happen to him.

    The wife talked me off the ledge of wondering why it happened and reminded me how good he is and how much happiness he can bring to us, just because he is always happy.

    I don't think any of us start out as "good parents" we learn slowly over a lifetime of trial and error.

    Anyway thanks for sharing that everyone has doubts about their parenting at times, makes it easier for us all to remember it is tough.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Too funny! This is the EXACT conversation I'm currently having in my head while pregnant with my Number FIVE!

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I can relate to your whole post, only if I'd written it and been totally honest, I'd probably have to admit that I stopped writing about 30 times to turn around and holler at the kids to beg them to stop being so loud. Haha.

    Thank you for this! You are a role model of mothering!

    ReplyDelete
  28. THANK YOU for posting your bullet-pointed list! I'm SOOO GLAD that I'm not the only mom without those typical Martha Stewart, mom-like qualities! :) I pretty much fit every one to a tee! Seriously...that made my day!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love this. As a mom of 10 who frequently looks at what I'm not doing, this helped so much. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I needed to hear this too. I am mom of four eternal souls, two of whom I have the privilege of raising. I was NOT a girly girl who loved babysitting. In fact, as a babysitter, I was always watching the clock: when can I go home? This is so boring!

    My own mom assured me that when I had children of my own I would feel differently. I did and I do!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is me right now...as I cry in the Kolbe parking lot from overwhelming overwhelmedness. Was that you that said hi/bye that I couldn't even look at? I thought it was, but I could barely turn around. But, yes, discouragement is not from Christ. I claim that truth for the rest of my day. My very long day with a husband at a meeting after work.

    ReplyDelete
  32. What a great post. A timely reminder, as Satan likes to fill my mind with all the things I should have done and didn't, all the mistakes, etc. Since my youngest of six is now an adult (almost 19), I need to focus on God's grace and mercy in their lives now and not my shortcomings. With two more grandbabies expected in the spring, I also need to trust that He will provide whatever my daughters need to be great parents.

    ReplyDelete
  33. These comments are so awesome. And I thought you all might like my husband's comment. He said:

    Good post. I should write one about how I should have not had even one kid. :)

    If you knew my fastidious, clean, introverted husband you would totally understand, ha ha!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! Just the kick in the pants I needed. I am homeschooling 3 this year with a toddler underfoot and am seriously one overwhelmed and crazed mama, who lately has been thinking, "maybe 4 is plenty." I REALLY needed to hear this message today. Peace of Christ to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I could have written just about everything on that list- but I still have four great kids! How did that happen?

    ReplyDelete
  36. When I reading your list, I was thinking things like, "you don't have to sew to be a mom, you don't have to craft to be a mom."

    I must always keep in mind what you said that Christ encourages, and the Devil discourages.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you all! By the way, I want to add an important caveat. While none of those reasons I listed (or all of them) should stop someone from welcoming a child to the family, there are those cases and times when a mother is overloaded and utterly overwhelmed, bordering on despair. I have been there at other times in my life, and I know other mothers who have been there as well (not only moms with large families, but those with small families, too!). When the mother truly cannot cope, and when she suffers from depression (so often PPD) and a lack of help from a husband, etc., it may not be time to welcome another child. There are serious emotional and psychological conditions that threaten the health of women and their families, and that was not the stuff I was addressing here. That is a whole other blog post. :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's interesting to read this as someone who has just now realized, along with her boyfriend, that it is no longer too soon to start talking about the possibility of marriage and children. The concept is frightening beyond all reason right now, but after reading this, I realize that I no one is perfect spouse material or perfect parent material, either before they start or after a lifetime of practice.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Yep. If everyone waited to have children until thu had "enough" money, a perfect house, and are perfect themselves, no one would have children.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I loved this post! And how did I not know you experienced infertility?
    I always wanted at least 3 or 4 kids, but I find not being able to get pregnant might make it easier for my husband to win that argument. He only really wants 2, because that's what he grew up with, as opposed to me being one of 6. (Ach, horrible grammer there!) Adoption is expensive, and although we both think whatever money we have to spend is worth it, I can see him start to get worried about retirement, etc, once we've spent over $60k on the privilege of becoming parents. So I keep hoping for adoption #2 to be another boy, so I can argue for a girl next (so we'd HAVE to adopt again), and then of course #4 so #3 could have a sister :). See how nicely I could make it work? Haha.
    Anyway, all that to say, sometimes with just Isaac I feel overwhelmed and wonder how I could ever convince my husband to have more than 2 kids when I can barely handle one! I'm just hoping that I can grow and learn to handle the responsibility...and do it with enough grace to convince him it'd be a good idea :).

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thank you so much for this post! I am going to be a newlywed soon, and my fibromyalgia has me scared about pregnancy and motherhood. All the "What if?"s can really kill.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I can ditto that entire list. And sadly, I have let that list dictate a lot about my life, not just having children. I have even gone so far as to say "I'm glad I have fertility issues b/c God knows I wouldn't be a good Mother to a large family". And maybe it's a bit true, but for the most part I know God doesn't think it's true (and that's not why He gave me fertility issues either:) If we let this list get to us, we'd probably never have more than one anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I forgot to add this to the list:

    I am not organized.

    And call me mama, I never wanted to hurt anyone in the IF blogger community by talking about my little patch of infertility. You guys were the reason I got my start in blogging and I never wanted to be insensitive! :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. How would you advise someone who would like to adopt #4 but has terrible, paralyzing anxiety about not being around to see them all grow? Please be kind, this is a very hard thing for me.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Mary, it's a great question. And it is a hard thing. I am "old" as you know. I have a one-year-old and I've done the math a thousand times ("I will be HOW old when he graduates from high school? Will I ever see his children?").

    But three things have stopped me from worrying about that.

    1) I know that even young parents have no guarantee of seeing their children grown. I have personally known too many young parents who have died with little ones still left to raise. There just is no way to plan or guarantee that any of us will be around to see them grow, no matter how young we start.

    2) I know a lot of older parents with kids in high school, of the same age I will be when my last kids graduate high school. They made it, they did it, and they are still going strong. So, I see "role models" out there.

    3) My faith. No matter how many years I have or don't have (and no one knows our length of years), I know that what I am doing as a mother will affect eternity. My kids (and me, and my husband) are all made for Heaven. We will all be there together in the end (God willing), and our separation will only be temporary. St. Therese's sainted mother died when she was four (left several children). Blessed John Paul II's mother died when he was still in grade school. Neither saw their children grow up, at least not from earth. Essentially, I have to trust in God that no matter what, His plan will prevail. We humbly obey and He brings forth the fruit, a thousandfold. Trust, trust, trust. Ultimately, I am not in control, He is. Trust, trust trust.

    I hope that helps.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Leila, I loved, loved, loved this post!!!!! It is so true and so encouraging. Thank you for your positive outlook!!! You're the best!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Hey Leila!

    I'm not sure if you're still checking the comments, but what would you suggest in a case that your husband wants to be "done" with having children because he feels for financial and emotional reasons (being overwhelmed) he can't have anymore, and he puts you in the position to make you promise to be done?

    I'm talking about a little of my own situation here, though things are different now with this medical reason as to why I shouldn't have more children. But it's always put me in a tight spot between answering to my husband and God.

    What would you suggest?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Becky, knowing your medical situation and the very grave nature of it, and also knowing that your husband has real reason to be fearful on a couple of levels, I would say that you need to honor your husband on this. Could there be a miraculous change to your situation? Yes, and then you would reevaluate. But the Church does not ask you to have children when your situation is serious and when your husband is against another pregnancy. If your husband is not asking you to sin (that part is important!), then you need to really honor what he is saying to you. Do you have a priest you can trust on this matter?

    ReplyDelete
  49. Sorry, I re-read my comment I didn't make myself clear.

    Like you said, with my medical situation, it's not a good idea to purposely have children. Which both my husband honor and respect and are in full agreement about.

    What I meant, but again didn't state it very well, was in gerneral, without medical situations involved, is it a sin to purposely not have children because one or the other of the spouses do not want to have any more children?

    This was the case before my heart attack. My husband was constantly asking me, "Can we be done now?" And it would put me in a tight spot; I knew that he wanted to be done but it didn't seem like our reasons "to be done" were serious enough (at the time there were no financial worries or medical issues going on) and so, it was hard for me to say "yes" or "no" to him without completely saying no to God, which I felt would be sinful on my end.

    Hopefully that makes it more clear?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Sorry, that comment is full of typos, I hope you can unravel it!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Becky, sorry! I see what you are asking. Gosh, it's tough, because you can't be "forcing" your husband to have a baby when he is so wary of it. I know we women do tend to want to do the right thing as we see it and sometimes we almost nag our husbands to death about it (I'm speaking for myself here, not anyone else!). But that is generally not spiritual productive. I'm guessing most husbands who don't want more children are afraid. Esp. of the financial part (their instincts to provide are very strong). I don't think you or any woman would be in sin for not forcing your way on this. If anything you simply let him know each month if and when you are fertile, and the decision is his... You are not saying no to God, but if he is, then it will be his culpability, not yours. If it really is an issue, I would seek out a very wise priest on the matter.

    But I don't think you are in sin if you are using NFP to avoid pregnancy to honor your husband's decision on the matter. A man's heart certainly can be softened and changed, but not through insistence on your way. They usually double down in opposition if that "battle" happens, frankly.

    Not using the "you" as personal to you, but as generic for all of us wives.

    Does that make any sense at all?

    ReplyDelete
  52. Gosh, Leila, I have had the same running dialogue in my head since finding out we are expecting #3. The self-doubt is incredible. But then, like you, I realize that God has ordained this pregnancy and so it can't be all on my shoulders. He wants this soul, and I have to put aside my doubts and do what He wants me to do! I say this as my sink is full of dishes, my living room floor is littered with toys and clothes (why clothes I have no idea!) and I'm staring at a half dead mum that I was supposed to plant weeks ago. Yep, humility abounds! Thank you for putting yourself "out there" for all of us self-doubters. xoxo!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Yes, that does make sense! I wish I had known that two years ago! It really caused a lot of friction between me and my husband, and with him being a new Catholic, I felt like I was imposing another "rule" on him about the Catholic Church that I knew he would not like.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter now, because of this medical situation, but maybe your answer will help others out there with the same situation.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I could relate to the "I can't" list well and God continues to teach me that my spiritual growth will continue to grow despite the limits I think I cannot overcome . . . thank God he fills in the gaps with his abundant graces!!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Yay, an honest and humble post by an honest and humble mama!

    ReplyDelete
  56. I'm just jealous :). I always wanted four, but am not sure we'll be able to adopt 3 more before I'm too old.

    On a separate matter... I know you advocate NaPro technology/medicine for infertile couples. But what if it's the husband who is infertile? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Rachel, I think that This Cross I Embrace and some others have good advice on that! Hop over to her blog and contact her, or email me and I will put you in touch! :)

    Praying for you to grow your family!

    ReplyDelete
  58. The funny thing is that I actually can do a lot of those things and yet I very often feel unqualified and incapable of raising my brood. Self awareness - yes, self defeat - no!

    ReplyDelete
  59. This has been my struggle for months (thinking about it on a daily basis). I feel so overwhelmed and think I can't handle another child. Sometimes I think it is a valid thought, and then I wonder if it is the devil trying to stifle God's love and life from our family. There are so many voices and opinions out there in our modern culture, too, that it's hard not to feel discouraged. So between the inner voices telling us we can't and the voices of our culture telling us that we shouldn't for various (usually superficial) reasons, it's no wonder this topic is such a struggle. I guess this is where prayer and finding God's voice within can help. Something I should be doing myself!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thank you for this post. It is beautiful and encouraging. As a mother with three YOUNG children, considering that fourth and fifth, and on... is overwhelming. Please know that this encouraged to think more about souls blessing my marriage!

    http://mothermovedbygrace.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  61. Lily and Katie, thank you for the comments, and I should probably put in one more thought: When I had my fourth child, for some reason it was easier than when I had three. (Maybe because my first was older then, and could help more, and the older kids were in school?) So, when I was contemplating the fifth child, I was very busy and had a LOT to deal with, but I was not at the point of feeling terribly overwhelmed. I do know that feeling of completely being overwhelmed, and when I do hit those times in my life, I hold off and step back and I don't think seriously about having another child just then. I wait for things to change, for me to get my bearings and not feel like I am drowning. Those times do come and that is when my husband and I can really give our "yes" to God and actively try for a child.

    That's what was so demonic about the thoughts I was having. I was feeling like I really could handle another child and was so excited. But the list of things I "couldn't do" to be a good mom assaulted me.

    I hope that helps clarify. I would never want a truly overwhelmed mom to push herself over the edge. We all need breathers. :)

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm not sure I believe that all nude art is immoral. I'm not sure I think we should change classic works. I am not sure. What I am sure of is that the idea that a porn addict can be healed by nude art of any kind is dangerous and foolish. It can lead them into more sin, and it can quite possibly lead the pure of heart into sin as well. I beleive a good Catholic, whether pure of heart or struggling with it, should avoid occasions of sin at all costs. That may mean not watching a very artful movie or even not going to a modern museum.

    I just think Bad Catholic glories in vice sometimes, which is not the best attitude to advocate to others. I mean, doesn't "Bad Catholic" say a lot? That's not funny. A bad Catholic should fear for his soul, as every good Catholic does.

    Anyway, I know I am strict on some issues, and sexual immorality is one. Jesus had a lot to say about it, and it seems to be at the root of the downfall of many a man and many a society (porn, divorce, rape, incest, abortion, the pill, etc.).

    Thanks for your response.

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  63. Reposting this - without my name at the bottom (oops).

    Hey, Leila. Enjoyed this post, but I have something else on my mind.

    I wonder if linking people to Bad Catholic is the best of ideas. I haven't read a lot on his blog, but I have seen some things that are not quite orthodox, and could even lead one to sin. Sometimes I feel he uses his blog as a place to revel in the sin he cannot or should not commit.

    For example, his post today is about pronography. It was, as his posts usually are, informative and entertaining. However, he argues that the cure for porn is more artists depictions of the naked body. Even if this was Blessed JPII's idea, it is not a dogmatic or binding teaching of the Church. Bad Catholic makes the argument that true and complete beauty pulls on a man's soul and leads him to God.

    In the case of porn, I disagree, and I think some of the art he puts up on this post are immodest and impure. The virgin Mary squirtting breat milk on the face of the Baby Jesus, really?

    The thing is, it doesn't matter if the artist's rendition of a naked woman, especially that of The Blessed Virgin, is pure, whole, beautiful, or respectful - the sickness of porn lies inside the person's mind. He can look upon any naked form of woman and see what he desires - be that sex, domination, perversion, violence, etc.

    I had a friend in a Theology of the Body study with me years ago. He was sick. He shared too much with everyone. He had a serious porn addiction and he to said that he was finally at the point where he was able to look at pictures of naked women and little girls and "see the real beauty" of the human body and female sex. (And, he found confirmation for this in TOB, which is just one of the many reasons my husband and I question teh focus and teachings of TOB.)

    Was he just finding a new way of fulfilling his addiction by masking it in words of purity and "healing"? Was he just tempting himself, testing his will, testing God's grace? I believe he was. And, I believe that like any addiction, the addict must avoid his sin at all costs. If you tend to over drink, you never drink again. You don't go into bars to test your strength. If you have a habit of thinking sexually, perversely and adulturously of women, you don't fill your head with naked images, nomatter how beautiful they are.

    I guess, I should be leaving this comment on Bad Catholic's blog, but I don't start up conversations with male bloggers online. I just wanted to mention it to you, because I believe you to be orthodox, faithful, and sincere. You seem to truly care about the sanctification of others.

    Art is NEVER an excuse for immodesty or sinfulness, and it certainly is not the cure to a porn addiction.

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  64. TB (reposting, without your name), thank you for the thoughtful comment! I haven't had time to really think a lot about that, and I did go over to his blog and saw that there is a lot of conversation starting up already. I think that conversation will be enlightening, and right now I don't feel any real pull "pro" or "con" to what he is saying. I do know that if a man is a porn addict, he already has a twisted view of things, and I don't think hiding true art from the rest of the world will be beneficial to either him or to the rest of us. I don't know if I can articulate this well, but think of all the men who walk through the Sistine Chapel. There are many of them, no doubt, who have a porn addiction. But I don't think that warrants painting the clothes back on the figures in the painting, and I am not sure that those paintings can be considered the cause of his sin.

    Pornography is meant to titillate, debase and objectify. The religious art we see has a whole other purpose, would you agree? Again, I don't really have a strong opinion about what he wrote and posted, but I do appreciate your putting your thoughts out there! I think good people can have varying thoughts on this whole issue, for sure. It's definitely worth talking about.

    And adding: You may be right about how to cure a porn addiction. I don't know enough about it. I know that Devin Rose as St. Joseph's Vanguard writes about porn addiction and getting over it. He might have some good insights!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I used to think the breast milk pictures were crude until I realized that breasts are over sexualized and they are made to breast feed. It also has a beautiful meaning because the images that the Blessed mother nurtures us all.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Kara,

    I agree that the breasts as they were meant for babies and married men are a beautiful creation of God. That doesn't mean they need to be depicted in art, even art that shows mothers breast feeding.

    Did you see the image?

    The image may be beautiful to you, I am not saying it isn't, but to a porn addict it is another occasion of sin. And what a horrible sin to think of Our Lady that way, if it should occur in the mind as such.

    Did you know that drinking breast milk is a fetish for some men?

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  67. Leila,

    I respect you greatly, so don't take this wrong.

    You say you don't have a strong opinion about what Bad Catholic wrote on his blog. I think, though, that if you link people to his blog as often as you do, you should be sure you agree with his general outlook and position on significant things. That was my only point in the first place.

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  68. In response to Becky's question about her husband's unwillingness to have more children: Please read Pope Paul VI's encyclical HUMANAE VITAE. This addresses your concerns, and explains that every marital act is both unitive and procreative. The marital act must always be open to life.

    It is lawful to use NFP to space births for serious reasons (financial, psychological, emotional), but the reasons must be serious. Your husband will have to search his heart and figure out why he is so unwilling to have more children, and whether or not this lack of desire is grounded in serious reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  69. TB, I understand, I really do. But I just don't have the same feelings about it as you do, to that degree. I don't think that picture of Mary is sexual at all, and I don't think that a porn addicted man would be turned on by it. Porn addicts in this day and age are so desensitized to most images that they need and crave more and more and more (moving pictures, depraved acts, over the top, sick stuff). That photo will not register on the meter after all the stuff they have available today.

    Also, some men have foot fetishes, but I don't think that means we can't talk about feet, or show photos of feet, or have shoe stores, etc. We cannot control for every sicko or fetish out there, and the percentage of guys with breastmilk fetishes is so small that I don't think we need to change our art or our understanding of that photo because of those very few men.

    Anyway, I'm just saying that it takes a lot to fuel a porn addict, and mild pictures of a religious, artsy nature are not going to be what they are looking for. I hope that makes sense.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Leila, to add to your list of three reasons it is OK to be an older mom, I would say that you've given each of your children siblings. If something happens to you and Dean, none of your children will be left alone without family.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Great Post! I love the rich story of raising children in this world. As a Catholic man and husband, I am grateful for all the things my wife has to do in her day!

    ReplyDelete
  72. Thank you, Joseph! And Susan, you are so right and that is a great comfort to me, that they do have each other.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Very inspiring! Thanks for writing this. I can't wait to have my wife read this. God bless you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Just the encouragement that I needed tonight. Monday night heard me telling my husband after a very trying day (and very little sleep had by me the night before) that as much as I wanted more children, it just isn't possible. I'm just not good at any of this mothering stuff, three children really is enough, right? and I think I might loose my mind. Tuesday saw a more relaxed me, but only just.

    How easy it is to get sucked into the lies of the devil. And what makes them such good lies is that they are based on some fact. But the ultimate truth is that God is able to work with all of our garbage to create something truly beautiful. A family.

    From this imperfect mom, Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
  75. I disagree. I think breastfeeding should be depicted in art more often. I think it's beautiful and needs to be normalized. I like the meaning behind the breastfeeding pictures now that I've nursed 4 babies and can fully understand that breasts are not sexual items. The Blessed Mother nourishes us all, just as she nourished Jesus with her breast milk. I know that it seems odd to see. I used to feel that way too, but it really is beautiful to me now. Innocent beauty.

    I agree with what Leila just said, also.

    ReplyDelete
  76. But I also do understand what you're saying, don't get me wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Amen, Sister Lady! Your list sounds so much like me. Every single day I wonder how we do it...but we do. We love & laugh & sanctify each other every day.

    And: I'm staring at kitchen that might well be better cleaned by taking a flame-thrower to it...

    Bethany & Joanna...I think we may be living in a commune unawares.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Especially in the present times, for whatever reason, I think that we as a society exert more energy than ever before trying to control our lives or, at least, trying to feel in control. I can't ever see anyone achieving perfection in this regard because to be human is to be imperfect and ultimately out of control of the one thing endangering our very existence: death. I think we have to ask ourselves the same question that men before us have always been asking: "What is life all about?". Isn't the answer that life is a search for the meaning of our existence of which we are capable of knowing something about despite our imperfections?

    How can anyone be at peace without having found the answer to the meaning of our existence and the reality of dying? We have to take risks in this life because we can't know tell the future and the fear we feel is caused by the risks we take every moment. However, it seems as if this fear is probably a healthy thing. It's not the same thing as discouragement rather it firstly related to our freedom to make choices and do what we want and that can be said to be a good thing.

    I think that the discouragement that you are talking about, Leila, has, firstly, something to do with our human condition of imperfection and, secondly, something to do with supernatural sources. Of course, if there is a God who wishes our good then it can only be that he would always encourage the good and discourage the bad. Any other supernatural being if it be bad could never be capable of encouraging the good but just the opposite. Of course, then, the devil uses our human condition to make us commit the mortal sin of despair.

    What's nice is the message of encouragement that God has revealed to us about the nature of his mercy towards us despite our shortcomings and failings. Mother Angelica described on her old TV show a mystical experience she once had while praying where she saw a drop of water and an ocean. God spoke to her and said that her past sins were dead to Him...Like that drop of water, your past sins could be thrown into the ocean and you could look and look and look for them but they will never be found...My (God's) mercy is that ocean. Mother Angelica then cheerfully reminded the listeners to get yourself to confession.

    Thanks for making an important point: we are all imperfect and are born into an imperfect world, but only God is capable of transforming all this imperfection into something good and worthy of his purposes

    ReplyDelete
  79. What strikes me about your list of reasons not to have more children, and what has probably already occurred to you, is that half of the list is irrelevant. The other half would make a great examination of conscience. I suspect if you, and all of us, used these attacks from the evil one as motivations to go to confession, we'd experience fewer of them over time.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Raremen - I haven't had a chance to read the entire discussion here (sorry) but some of your concerns have been raised by many other Catholics, including respected theologians. There is an Americanized approach to TOB that may or may not be so great. Check out this interview with Bishop Lafitte, The The secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, recently posted in the NCR:

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/over-sexualizing-theology-of-the-body/#ixzz1bKW64sRc

    Our marriage preparer, who is getting his PhD in marriage and family studies from Rome affirmed that there is indeed concern, BUT that the debate is about how to teach JPII's teachings and interpret them correctly, not that JPII was wrong (because when you really examine what he wrote, it is very in line with Church teachings. Also JPII did not call his talks "TOB" - that is the American title - but "Catechesis on Human Love" which conveys a focus more on exploring/discussing love than just the body.

    Anyway, I read your first few comments (and I too have known men immersed in "TOB" who really had issues too, and in hindsight, again, I think it was more their approach/how they were taught and counseled mixed in with their sin, not JPII's actual teachings as he intended them to be transmitted).

    ReplyDelete
  81. Ack, sorry for the typos... hope it made sense/maybe was helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Federalist: Nicely put! Your comment is spot on.

    There isn't a day I don't struggle with patience as a mother--which is precisely why I go to confession frequently and confess this besetting sin again and again and again, as embarrassing or tiresome as it may be. It's not enough to simply throw our hands up in the air and say, "I just don't have patience; that's just how I am." Our Lord said, "Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." And He would not command us something that would be impossible for us. He provides all the graces we need to aspire to holy perfection--and as mothers, it is something we MUST aspire to every day, unflinchingly, without self-pity, and without compromise.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Leila,

    We agree to disagree, but I wouldn't be so sure that no porn addicts would sexualize a picture of breast feeding. You couldn't know that unless you knew all the minds of all porn addicts in the world and throughout history. And, I can say, having known and spoken to several in my former life that they indeed would sexualize that kind of an image and many other seemingly innocent nude images. I mean, come on, some men sexualize innocent children - and infants! It is not so far off that they would also sexualize a nude Virgin Mary painting.

    As for the foot fetish thing, a foot is not a sexual object. Adam and Eve did not put fig leaves on their feet:)

    I just live a bit more cautiously, and will teach my children the same. If Jesus said to cut out your eye or cut off your arm because it causes you to sin, which basically means that you get rid of ANYTHING at ANY COST that could possibly cause you to sin, then you would get rid of nude art as well. It can cause adultury of the heart, and it can cause innocence to be lost at the slightest twist. In our culture that twist is 360 degrees.

    And, Kara, the breast are a beautiful instrument of God for the feeding of children, but, contrary to what you said, they are also sexual instruments. That is why they create sexual stimulation in most women.

    Sara, I am aware that JPII talks were not called Theology of the Body. I think it is West's interpretation of things that causes problems. He says alot of off the wall things and his focus is not altogether healthy. He was actually asked to go on sabbatical. Dawn Eden critiqued him in her thesis and it was very good. Thank you for your clarification. Though I am not trained enough to take apart JPII's teachings and discern their benefit to the world, I do believe you have a point about interpretation.

    Signing off on this topic,
    TB

    ReplyDelete
  84. Is there something strange that takes over one's brain between child #4 and #5?? Because the exact same thing happened to me right before #5 was conceived. I was shocked at myself because prior to that I had never been intimidated by more children. I am now happily expecting #5 (due in Feb.), and can't wait for he/she to become acquainted with all my faults and lack of parenting skills:-).

    ReplyDelete
  85. TB - sure! I don't feel very equipped to enter the discussion often, either. All I really know is that Rome is eying this debate and concern has been expressed. I did read Eden's thesis... it really helped me understand the concerns/debate better as did the "Inside the Vatican" series on it. And regarding addiction to pornography, well we have a Catholic family therapist in our family who would be the first to emphasize to us that sexual disorders/addictions are very complex and hard to treat and are very heavy crosses. I *am* a fan of Bad Catholic, but the more I chew on that particular post, the more I can't really agree with it. I feel like there is a huge difference/leap between JPII making a theological point (that pornography "shows too little") and actually treating an addiction to pornography with nudity. I don't think it holds water. On the flip side, I don't think he's setting himself up as an authority on this subject but simply writing an edgy, thought-provoking post that then opens the floor to debate. Okay, sorry... this comment is totally unrelated to the original post! You just opened up a topic I've been chewing on for quite some time and am still trying to understand and read more about.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you for this post! I have 4 little ones ages 7 years to 22 months. Your list totally describes me as well as the thoughts of how crazy we are to be open to more children. I'm just praying for God's strength to not know our future as in being able to say "We're done". It is a blessing to not have to say those words but sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball to know the future size of our family. For now-one month at a time,

    ReplyDelete
  87. Christine and Federalist, I couldn't agree more!

    And TB, I am not in total disagreement with you, it's just now where my energy lies. I would never think to "cure" a porn addict by showing him nude art, so we do agree there. I wouldn't venture a guess how to "cure" him; I will leave that to the experts both on the therapeutic and spiritual levels.

    But do I think all nude art must be hidden or ended because of the presents of porn addicts? No, definitely not.

    Again, it's just not a subject I have a lot of energy about, but that's just me. :)

    I think Sarah had a better response than I could have.

    Kristin, congrats! And Ryan, exactly!

    ReplyDelete
  88. Cordelia, thank you for that beautiful comment.

    ReplyDelete
  89. We are in agreement then, Leila. I don't know where the boundary for nude art is, but people with propensities to lust should stay clear if it. I do think the Virgin Mary squirting milk on Jesus from two feet away is a unrealistic portrayal of how breastfeeding works:)

    Anyway, this is a subject I spend a lot of time thinking about and discerning, for various reasons. I have a very sensitive radar, but I think that's important in times like these.

    Thanks for engaging in a discussion with me about it (to all who chimed in).

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  90. Sarah,

    It is a very complicated subject, for sure. Call me a prude - I was just offended by the artwork in his post. I think the Virgin Mary one is sacriligious and would have prefered to have never seem it. His ideas are worth thinking about, and it could have been a well-made post without the image.

    Sorry to come out of left field, but glad to know you (and others) are giving these things a tnought or two.

    TB

    ReplyDelete
  91. Wow this is quite the convo!


    I also just wanted to thank you for the post as I feel most parents go through this feeling whether or not they're Catholic. It's hard enough as someone in the faith with support and guidance to overcome these discouraging feelings at times let alone those without any faith. It really makes me sympathize and pray for most parents outside the faith. I'm pregnant with our fourth child and my oldest is 4, so I deal with this battle of feelings a lot!

    ReplyDelete
  92. Thank you for sharing this. I am a mother of four (my youngest is 3 months) and I feel the burden daily of not being "good enough". I loved what you said about our children helping to sanctify us. I wrote a similar post myself a while ago regarding my son who has Asperger's (he challenges me and blesses me in so many wonderful ways! www.thejoyofsneezing.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  93. Ok, so this is comment #100, so I don't even know if anyone will read it. (DARN you, devil, stop discouraging me!).

    Anyway, my husband texted me with that quote about how encouragement only comes from Christ this morning. God bless him. I am so glad that God led him to your quote today. Last night I had a full-out breakdown about the fact that I am finding it terribly difficult to find fellow Catholic friends. Another mom had made a snarky facebook comment to me (regarding bunco, of all things) and I became incredibly teary over the fact that all of my non-Catholic friends think that I am some weird non-contracepting, breastfeeding, Mass-attending, brainwashed half-wit.

    Often, I start great conversations with other Catholic mothers after Mass, but I get too scared to ask for a phone number. You know that awkwardness that is dating? That is how I feel!

    Thank you. I am going to go make some Catholic friends, now.

    ReplyDelete
  94. As the Lucky 100th commenter, Holly, you win a bunch of great Catholic friends! Hang out here on the Bubble and you'll find more good Catholic friends than you can imagine! Yes, it's cyberspace and all, but still…

    And thanks to everyone else… great, great comments! So glad you stopped by!

    ReplyDelete
  95. I was just having this conversation with myself today. I even told my hubby that we are NOT going to have 8 kids, 6 is my absolute max! We only have 2 right now! Thanks for the post. It brought me to tears & reminded me that I am not alone and that I am not a failure. Maybe we'll end up with 8 after all...

    ReplyDelete
  96. Aw Holly, I feel the same way sometimes but I really had to try to push myself to get out there and find some faithful Catholics and I have! I'm hoping those friendships will grow because, as a convert, coing into the church basically alone was pretty difficult. I totally feel out of place amongst many, but that's ok, I know I'm listening to God's will and that comes with a lot of hurdles.

    I'm always in need of more faithful catholic fb friends too, so lt me know if you want to connect!

    ReplyDelete
  97. Holly, I am completely with you here. We just moved to a new state, I am an introvert, I homeschool my six-year-old and four-year-old, we also have a two-year-old, and I am lonely. I have often felt like making new friends is just like dating! And I am so bad at it. (Ironically, I was really good at dating. Didn't transfer.)

    About five years ago, I remember crying in bed one night because I just had no Catholic friends. I prayed a rosary begging for Catholic friends. My prayers were answered so quickly, and now I know I must pray my rosary again or I will go years without friends.

    I am so lonely after moving across the country, and now I have to accomplish this task with a busy young family. I have also been terrified over moving on to child #4 for this reason. I get so sick and have to take meds to keep the food down, and I just keep thinking...I will be alone and sick and overwhelmed. (Hubby is back in school and gone a lot.) I just can't do it all by myself -- I need some divine intervention. So I would suggest a rosary.

    Thanks for the encouraging post, Leila! I feel comfort knowing I am not the only one who struggles -- with transitioning our family, bringing new children into the world, and with making Catholic friends :).

    ReplyDelete
  98. Dear Leila,
    Oh, what a blessing your article is to many! It made my day! Thank you, thank you!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  99. "Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core"

    Satan shared his wisdom with earth, while God told his people (Israelis) to kill everybody else on earth and take their towns. He also flooded the earth and destroyed numerous people for other little actions, like complaining that the food he gives them could taste a little better. Let's not forget Matthew 13:41.

    ReplyDelete
  100. To the anonymous above:

    Riiiiight. Satan is just a peach of a guy, poor misunderstood devil.

    Let me pretend to take you as a person of good will and direct you here for your elucidation:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-is-god-of-old-testament-so-mean.html

    As if you'll take heed.

    Next time you decide to defend Satan and trash God, do it somewhere else. I'm sure there are lots of Satanic blogs where you can feel comfortable. Stop trolling here.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I only have 2 children so far. Yet when I look back on who I was before children, or when my first child was a baby, I see how much parenthood has helped me along the path of holiness! Many of my flaws are improving as I grow in parenting.
    Thanks for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  102. Thank you so much for this article and the followup comments. I really needed it. I am looking forward to following your blog. After #4, I've been feeling the doubts, and although I MAY need a psychological breather, I know that most of it is Satan convincing me that dreading morning sickness is somehow a good enough reason to stop. (ya right!) LOL

    ReplyDelete
  103. I found you from Lifesitenews.com, which I love. I just had to say that I loved this article! It says everything I want to tell people about moms of big families. I have 8 children too.

    ReplyDelete
  104. Thank you, Leila, for this post. The reason we don't want children is due basically to unbelief. God has exercised my wife's and my faith so much from having five children in five years. We have learned to despair of our own planning and cast our care on him who cares for us.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  105. Gosh, everyone, thank you! And I love that fathers have commented!

    Elizabeth, stick around the Catholic blogs and you'll find lots of friends, even some in your area!

    ReplyDelete
  106. Thank you Leila!!! We have 5 living blessings and 5 already waiting for us in heaven ... its been a loong road. And I can't tell you how many times the world has thrown the accusitory "why would you want any more?" question our way. But I try to remind myself every day I do not serve the world, I serve a great and power Lord and Creator.

    The Lord bless you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Thanks, Leila! I have been on the outskirts of the Catholic blog world for a long time -- occasionally a lurker :). You probably actually have heard of me before. I am also referred to as "twin" in Sarah's Journal (jenningsjournal). Thank goodness I have Sarah! God knew we would need a little extra support in life when he made us twins. I get to discuss a lot of the Catholic blogs with Sarah over email, and maybe one of these days I will start a blog of my own. I love your blog, though. I am a scientist by training, and I really appreciate your logic, facts, and truth. I will have to drop in more often and jump in on the discussion. :)

    ReplyDelete
  108. Elizabeth, get out!! You are Sarah's twin??? Whoa, I am so glad to "meet" you!! Yes, you should start a blog! Sarah's is sooooo good. I can't wait to see what her twin can do! ;)

    I feel like I know you already!

    ReplyDelete
  109. Hahaha...It is good to "meet" you too! It's funny how I also feel like I know you from so many emails and links with Sarah. I only hope I would be able to live up to Sarah's blog (or any of these great Catholic blogs)!

    ReplyDelete
  110. I have a preemie with developmental delays that require intervention and therapy. Additionally, his immune system is weak at best and he ended up at the hospital a week and a half after moving to our present location.

    People tell me that they don't know how I do it with having 4 therapy sessions a week, working with my son in between, also being the one to manage finances and insurance stuff, and just holding the household together so my husband can minister efficiently. My answer: "I just do the next thing and focus on where my butt happens to me." It's the best parenting policy I've found and it's the one that works.

    ReplyDelete
  111. My goodness, Leila, if you never did anything you weren't good at, we'd not have your wonderful blog! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  112. hey Leila, just yesterday I was having that conversation with the devil. I too have 4 and am longing for more. I have a list of all the reasons why I shouldn't have any more, BUT I was reminded yesterday that the list is the reason why I should have more because if it was possible to do it without GOD than I wouldn't need HIM more everyday. With God all things are possible... and children are gifts from HIM. Who would be so crazy to not receive these gifts from HIM and not do life with HIM everyday???

    thanks for this encouraging post and blog. :)

    Praise Jesus!!

    ReplyDelete
  113. YAY! I found this through Lifesite News. You are famous!! :) You are a gift!

    ReplyDelete
  114. Wow! A friend just posted this to her facebook page, and I'm so glad she did! It really touched me. Immediately after reading it, I ran over and posted it to my own Facebook page, but then I read it again, outloud, to my husband and just started crying as I read through your "list." I could have written every single one of those things.

    Thank you so much for bringing encouragement to my day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  115. You just made my day! Thanks for such a great post. God bless you abundantly.

    ReplyDelete
  116. I've read this post 3 times and wanted you to know it helped me...in the back of my head, your post is there. I posted today and linked you because of it. Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  117. I wish I could thank everyone of you in person! Group hug!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  118. Wow! What a GREAT post ... and wide variety of comments.

    So much to say, but don't quite know where to start ...

    I am the Mama of a DOZEN children (ages 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 21, 22, 22, 24, 26, 27). I had my first 3 babies in 2 1/2 years; everyone thought we would be done. Two years later we added twins ... for 5 babies in 4 1/2 years. Certainly we would be done now. 18 months later, baby #6 joined us ... for 6 babies in 6 years. Done yet? No.

    I am SO GLAD that we did NOT stop at "just 6" kids. Oh. My. No. Those 6 are now grown and gone, and I praise Jesus that we added 6 more. I cannot imagine having an "empty nest". I LOVE having a houseful to teach and to train. (This is my 21st year of homeschooling.)

    While I quickly learned to cook, bake bread, make jam, grocery shop, decorate, and take a van load of kids anywhere and everywhere ... the enemy still found a way to bring discouragement around every corner. Sadly, most of the discouragement came from remarks made by other Believers.

    "You don't make enough money."

    "You'll never be able to provide for all of those children."

    "You'll never be able to give them private lessons or send them to college."

    on and on and on it went ... even close friends telling us we needed to STOP NOW. Thankfully, we listened to the Lord rather than to the world.

    God has provided for us beyond our wildest imaginations. Our children have not only had private lessons and gone to college, but our 5 older children have traveled the world (with all provision coming from the Lord, and our kids' hard work).

    Ladies ... children are a BLESSING. Each and every one of them.

    Now ... random question ... why do so many of you feel the need for "Catholic Friends"??? I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian. I am a very lonely mother of many that would love to have like-minded friends whether they were Catholic or Protestant. As a matter of fact, I just started going to a homeschool program with my children and the one mom that I've enjoyed getting to know the most happens to be Catholic. I certainly hope that she does not reject my friendship because I don't attend her church. Just make me sad that some of you seem to be limiting who you are able to be close friends with.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Momma D, I don't think any of us meant we only wanted Catholic friends. One of my closest friends is a non denominational Christian. We get along well because we have similar beliefs, just not the same religion.

    It's just easier to KNOW that your friends are on par with your beliefs when they are orthodox Catholics. We get, like you mentioned, tons and tons of criticism from the outside world. It's easier to grow friendships with like-minded people than not, Catholic or not.

    Sorry if anything we said offended you, I promise it wasn't meant that way.

    ReplyDelete
  120. Mama D -- When I say I want Catholic friends, I don't mean it at the exclusion of Protestant friends. I just grew up in the Bible Belt where Catholics are a minority. Most of my Protestant friends were of the contraception mentality and saw limiting family size as a responsibility to God. I have heard of wonderful Protestants who don't do this, but I just didn't know any. I would love to befriend them. I also still love my Protestant friends and family who do differ in opinion, I just can't ever quite get completely comfortable. Most of my family is Protestant. It is just hard sometimes to have that tension over family size, over spiritual responsibility, etc. So I desire Catholic friends, because most of them automatically share the same beliefs and perspectives, and I can speak more freely about these topics. I'm sure a Christian like you would also make a very understanding and wonderful friend! What's not to love about a family of 14? ;) I'm sure I could also learn a lot from you.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Thanks Ladies.

    NOT offended at all ... just curious why the focus on "Catholic Friends".

    I totally get your answers, and realize that maybe I should just be looking for Catholic friends, because I'm certainly not finding like-minded mommies in my own church. :)

    While all of my closest friends have always been Believers (because of our shared faith in God), I have never differentiated between Catholics or Protestants. My husband was raised Catholic ... I was raised Methodist ... we are now attending a Covenant church ... so we just have never gotten to caught up on denominations. :)

    Thanks for your welcoming spirit. I look forward to getting to know some of you Catholics a bit better.

    :) :) :)

    ReplyDelete
  122. NOT offended at all ... just curious why the focus on "Catholic Friends".

    Most of my Protestant friends are hesitant to pray the Rosary with me, for one. :)

    ReplyDelete
  123. I just want to thank you for this post. I have actually been reading through many of your previous posts, and plan to look through them all at some point.
    I am 29, Catholic with 2 small children at home. Our plan is for 2 more children and not to have more by using NFP (but I will admit to not starting this just yet). However, over the last year I would have thoughts all the time about how great it would be to have many more children, 6 or 7, who knows? But then I would say to myself "why? what reason do I have to want so many kids? Just to be different than everyone else I know?" I cried when I read you post for the first time. It just opened my eyes to the real possibility that maybe I can have a big family. Did those thoughts go through anyone else's head before they decided to have a big family?
    This is still all new to me (being open to more kids) Last week if someone asked if I wanted more kids I would say, yes 2 more. But now, only God knows right ;)
    Thank you again. I look forward to following your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  124. Mama D., great question and I do love my Protestant friends, but they don't necessarily understand our openness to life and rejection of contraception as evil. It's nice to not have to explain that and just be comfortable. Or, talking of our love for the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother, the Church, the Pope, etc. So many Protestants do not understand, and yet this is our life, so it's hard sometimes to ignore it or talk around it when it's so central to our lives. However, I think you and I could be fast friends!!! :) I hope you stick around!

    Shaunacey, what a great comment! It made me smile! I had the same thought when we first came off of contraception: "I get to have more kids? I'm allowed to????" It was awesome! I only had to follow Christ, not the culture which tends to disdain large families and openness to life. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  125. Never been to your blog before, but we may have been switched at birth! When people say I must be like Job to have 6 kids (I'm 33) I just laugh at them! I am not patient at all! http://www.samsnoggin.com/

    ReplyDelete
  126. Leila: Not my place to tell you how to run your blog, but that evil comment praising Satan and trashing God's name would never be allowed to remain on my blog. I'd delete it in a heartbeat, and block the commenter.

    Kara wrote: "I became incredibly teary over the fact that all of my non-Catholic friends think that I am some weird non-contracepting, breastfeeding, Mass-attending, brainwashed half-wit."

    to this, Our Lord says to you, "Blessed are you when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven." Matthew 5:11-12

    What you're suffering from non-Catholic friends is indeed a form of persecution, and you are blessed for it. It may not feel like much of a blessing at the time, but Our Lord is surely pleased at your faithfulness.

    ReplyDelete
  127. Well, Holly said that but that's definitely how I feel.

    Thank you, Christine. <3

    ReplyDelete
  128. Christine, good point about deleting. I guess in my mind I don't mind taking on the haters here, and thus showing Christians they have nothing to be afraid of. We are more powerful than Satan and his minions. And there is always the chance to reach even the most hardened and sinful soul…. If he had gone on and on, I would have deleted him. Unfortunately, I don't think that Blogger allows us to block individuals.

    ReplyDelete
  129. Leila, very well said. Your story is similar to ours. Our biggest time of doubt and frustration was at four children. We overcame (with God's playful insistence...birth control kept failing, so we finally gave in), and we now have a houseful of 16. Life is very good!

    ReplyDelete
  130. Thanks for being so open with your flaws! I have four children and I am totally there! With each child that has been added to our family I have watched while God has helped me die to myself and become less selfish. I hope that I am done dying to self, but only God knows his plan for me and my family. Thanks for putting into words what so many of moms hold in our hearts and our made to feel so badly about. Your courage and life changing moment gives hope, inspiration, direction and helps us to draw nearer to God who will comfort, encourage and strengthen us. Thanks, again. Sincerely, Michele

    ReplyDelete
  131. I have four children, my youngest is 16 months old. I have started thinking of having baby #5 (my husband and I have always wanted a big family. We always love the reactions of people when they ask us how many kids we want and we say "At least 8!") and these exact same thoughts came into my head! I became very depressed and wondered why God had entrusted any souls to me at all! After reading this post, it occurred to me that the devil was doing the same thing to me as he had tried to do with you. Thanks for calling him out again! My husband and I are ready and willing for that 5th baby, if God so wishes. God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  132. Hello, my name is Tiago Martins, I'm from Brazil, I saw the translation of your article in a pro-family blog here in our country and I was delighted with his story, it gives me much hope for the future that God gives me the grace of have my family and lead it well.

    May God always strengthen you and your husband, Our Lady guide you and your home may be a reflection of the Family of Nazareth. Stay with God!

    ReplyDelete
  133. I found this post via your 7 Quick Takes from this week.

    I don't have time to read all the comments (sick children, sick mama, nursing and sick newborn...) but wanted to thank you for posting this!! We are Orthodox and use NFP and our desired family size is definitely not socially acceptable. I too struggle with all the things you list (except that I am crafty, I just want more time for creative pursuits...without my children!). We just had our fourth baby (the third we get to raise--I love how you put that, btw), and we are far from "done". But I'm also overwhelmed, and scared, and discouraged by life with three children three and under.

    But I'm rambling and what I really wanted to say was thanks for the encouragement. I needed that!

    ReplyDelete
  134. Sorry, I'm commenting so late on this post. I just thought of something that relates to it though. Although, I have yet to experience motherhood (I'm a junior in college, so it will be awhile before that happens), I feel that I can relate with the discouraging part. As a college student, I often find myself experiencing doubt as to whether I will actually complete college and graduate. As Leila said, I also can only too easily think of reasons that I shouldn't be in college due to my sins, shortcomings, and weaknesses. Actually, there were several items on Leila's list that describe me as well!
    I've never been the greatest student or even had a true love of school. I often lose motivation and get overwhelmed too easily by my schoolwork. I must remember though that God is calling me to be a student and earn my degree so I can combine my strength in writing with my passion for Catholicism to pursue a career along the lines of Catholic publishing or writing.

    Two things that I try to remember when I'm experiencing times of discouragement are the Gospel story of Jesus walking on water, with Peter also trying to walk on water. My favorite priest once gave a homily on it saying Peter slipped when he took his eyes off Jesus. Thus, whenever we face a challenge, we need to keep our eyes on Christ. Archbishop Sheen said, "Believe the incredible and you can do the impossible".

    Thank you for this post, Leila! It really gave me more insight into the realities of motherhood. Honestly, I've been one of those people who see big families and have the thoughts you described. So, I do appreciate all the insights you give in the Bubble. God bless you and your family!

    ReplyDelete
  135. Leila this is my first time here and this post was for me! Obviously the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something. But, I am so very stubborn. I am pregnant with out fourth and although we talked about a fourth and fantasized about it, when it happened we were so scared. And overwhelmed at our long list of short comings. I pray every day, Lord help me to be the mother you see me as. Because I know he wouldn't have given me these children if he sees me as I do!

    I want to give my love and support for all the women out there suffering from infertility. My reproductive endocrinologist told me we'd likely never have children. He said he'd try IVF but even that was not a sure thing. He told me to look into adoption. We were new converts that spring going to be baptized in a matter of weeks. Now I was struggling with this huge bioethics question. I am a paralegal so I researched my mind out. My husband didn't have the same conviction and was ready to spend another 50 grand on treatment and toss out the bioethics questions that plagued me.

    I chose St. Philomena as my name when baptized. I'm sure you know why. We were planning a pilgrimage to Rome after our baptism and it just so happened Pope John Paul II passed while we were boarding our flight. I prayed for his intercession from that moment on. I told God I was unashamed to be the woman hanging on his robes begging for my blessing, my child. I spent the week in Rome paying my respects to the Pope and visiting churches and immersed in prayer. It wasn't hard, Catholics came to St. Peters square to sing and dance and say the rosary. It was magical. I visited church after church. And felt so light. It wasn't until we were in Florence at the Santa Maria Novella did I realize, bags in tow, this was over. I was going home. To more treatments to a childless home, perhaps forever.

    I light a candle and there was a beautiful chalkware of Mary and Jesus praying the rosary. I stared as I lit that candle. Angry I told her she was my mother, I was her daughter and didn't she know the pain of not having a child? When if ever would my prayer be heard?

    I knelt in a pew and wanted to cry. But, I'd done that already so I began to pray again for a child. I heard a sweet woman's voice speak to my spirit, "Robin, He's heard your prayer and has answered it." not what I wanted to hear but I felt like I was a bit faithless praying the same prayer over and over. I needed to let go and have faith.

    A month late I was pregnant with my first. The r.e. was shocked. He said this baby was either going to have genetic problems or I'd miscarry. I did neither. He is happy and healthy. He said if I did have other pregnancies on my own I needed to see him for an abortion, they'd have severe problems and miscarry or die shortly after birth. Nope the next two were fine. And as I carry my fourth this advent I have no reason to expect this one to be any different.

    So blessed are we Catholics to be able to count on the saints in Heaven and Our Blessed Mother to lift us up in prayer. To present our petitions at the foot of Christ himself. To those desiring a family, don't give up lean on Our Mother. Your prayers are heard! ((HUGS all around)) I'll be adding the women here to my prayer list. Speaking of...it might be nice if you hosted a novena for the women trying to conceive? I joined a few on Catholic Answers this time around...my husband was done as well (after the third). But, just yesterday was speaking about having a fifth. A faithful woman praying is to be feared, God hears us.

    ReplyDelete
  136. Robin, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. You made my morning.

    ReplyDelete
  137. Boy God knew what he was doing when he directed me to your blog today..... of your list, these are the ones I can relate to:
    I'm not organised.
    I can't cook. (well I can, but I don't want to)
    I have nooooo patience.
    I am not crafty in the least.
    I can't sew.
    I can't throw a party (and nor do I want to)
    I'm not athletic or outdoorsy.
    I don't know how to make a pretty home (and can't see any need to)
    I don't know how to make anything fun.
    I am lazy and a procrastinator.
    I am sarcastic and cranky.
    I am a complainer.
    I like to be alone.
    I hate to be interrupted or inconvenienced.
    I am not particularly good with children.

    I screamed at my 2 children (aged 7 & 4) more often than i care to remember over the past 12 months, and I smacked them both in public today.....several times.....

    And you are right when you say God is teaching us through our children!

    Bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  138. Thank you so so much for posting this. I have 4 children, and every month, when that time comes around, I would love to have another, but my husband says we have all we can handle. I would love to have another child. This post has touched me deeply. Thank you so much for your writing. God has blessed you!!

    ReplyDelete
  139. I had to crack up your list as I probably would have come up with the exact same list, and have, mentally, more than once. I have 8 kids too! We should be friends! :)

    I have decided that I am good with stuff inside my head. I can read, write, reseach, and talk, but cooking, cleaning, decorating, sports, dance, and such do not come natural. Oh, well, too late now! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  140. Wow, this post has had a resurgence!! I am so thrilled about that! Lots of women like me out there, ha ha! Okay, where did you all find this link? Someone must have posted it somewhere with lots of readers…

    (Crazy Mom, I feel like we are already friends, yay!)

    ReplyDelete
  141. I saw this again just recently. It was linked to on facebook from We Can Stop Abortion, I think....

    ReplyDelete
  142. Wait a minute, did I write this and forget?! :) Your list of "issues" sounds exactly like mine!! I've been wrestling with the same problem, not being "good enough" to raise kids (like we're ever good enough to receive ANY of God's blessings!!). Thank you so much for posting this. I truly needed the encouragement right now.

    ReplyDelete
  143. It would not let me "reply."

    I got this from a facebook friend, someone I don't know irl, but worked with on a homeschool product review team.

    I'm going to sub to your feedburner. I blog too at http://www.ramblingsfromthecrazyhouse if you are interested. :) I don't blog too much right now, but hope to more this summer. Right now my keyboard is whacky, but I'm hoping to get that fixed at some point in the near future. :)

    ReplyDelete
  144. I am a mother of 6 here and 1 in heaven. I too could have written your post. In addition to being the Mom, I work with severely handicapped children. There are many many times I cry out to God that I have no idea what I'm doing and can't understand why He would put these precious children in my incompetent care. Thank you for pointing out that the devil is behind the doubts. God knows what we all need, even if it is not clear to us. Thanks also for having the courage to write this blog. Many times I feel like I isolated in my traditional Catholic beliefs. I am so happy to see there are others out there that still follow Rome.

    ReplyDelete
  145. A friend showed this post to me. I could have written it too. I have 6 children on earth and 1 in heaven. In addition to being the mom, I also work with severely handicapped teenagers. There have been so many times that I have cried out to God "Why have you given these precious children to one as incompetent as I?" Thank you for pointing out that all these doubts are from the devil, not God. Thank you also for having the courage to write the blog. Many times I feel very isolated in my traditional Catholic faith. Thanks for letting people know there are still many that follow Rome.

    ReplyDelete
  146. I am the mom to 9 on earth and 1 in heaven. Three of them are adopted and I often feel the same way. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, and I think your comments reach outside the Catholic community to many moms of large families. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  147. On the other side of this, I grew up oldest of six. It was terrible. And while I love my siblings, I wish my mom had considered the negative effects of having so many kids. But instead, she did "god's will".

    It sucked growing up, and I would never do that to my kids. I pretty much didn't have a mom after kid #4, and became a 2nd mother at kid #3.

    ReplyDelete
  148. rld21129, that is sad and I am sorry to hear it, truly. What happened with your mom that she was unable to care for three kids? It sounds like something else must have been going on, not just regular mom fatigue. There are people who really should not have many children, sometimes due to poor health, either mental or physical. I do hope that you at least have found great joy having your siblings! They are a true gift, especially in an increasingly disjointed, transient society. As I get older, I cherish my one sister even more, and while I always wished for more siblings, it really hits home now as we are all aging, and my parents are in their 70s.

    ReplyDelete
  149. Wow, great post! And it breaks my heart to see you say that *some* people shouldn't have kids. Maybe a few shouldn't, but my hope would always be that God will heal them of their illness rather than deprive them of the blessing of children and that would also be my prayer. I just don't think that just because you've had a couple of c-sections or a few weeks of postpartum blues means you shouldn't have more kids. Maybe that's not what you meant but I see that from moms ALL THE TIME.

    ReplyDelete
  150. Hi Just Katie! I was a little confused when I saw you say that I said that some people shouldn't have kids. I don't remember ever saying that? I did say this in the last comment: "There are people who really should not have many children, sometimes due to poor health, either mental or physical."

    I think the Church herself says that not all married couples are called to have large families -- although all are called to be open to children, and welcome them generously! "Generously" means different things, depending on the individual circumstances of the couple involved. For example, I have a sister living with a very serious (life threatening) chronic illness, and her openness to bearing her three children was much more heroic and generous considering her condition than my having eight children. I hope that makes sense! And yes, of course we would always hope for a cure for all illness. Sometimes, God does not grant us the grace of a cure.

    But I just want to be clear that I never would say that some married people should never have any children. :)

    Blessings and thanks for your great comments here and on the other posts!

    ReplyDelete
  151. Reading all these comments makes me think how everyone is blinded by religion. Children come into this world biologically (i.e you have sex with your partner and 'boom' you are pregnant). Are you all so ignorant at how God decides and controls your life. If so we should all be the 'Virgin Mary'.
    I was born a Catholic not by choice obviously but now at age 34 I think differently.
    If God decides on family planning do all catholic couples keep on having 8 children or more before putting into account if there finance is good, if there relationship is stable, if they can mentally cope, etc....... all these things that some normal people think about before bringing kids into this world.
    Is it not better to have less children (4 the most)which means you are able to cope better and give them more individual attention. What are some of us thinking?.. Are you superhuman?.

    ReplyDelete
  152. Amanda, I am guessing you have not heard of "responsible parenting" that has been espoused by our popes? We have natural means of birth regulation for those times when we are unable to responsibly provide for more children. God is an amazing designer:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/natural-family-planning-post.html

    ReplyDelete
  153. And Amanda, sorry, but what part of my post or anyone's comments made you think that no one thinks about "all these things that some normal people think about before bringing kids into this world"?

    We don't have sex with our "partners", we have sex with our spouses, which means marriage, which is the proper context in which to have and rear a child. Nope, we are not superhuman. Did you read the original post?

    ReplyDelete
  154. Great Post!

    I feel like I'm coming a little late to the party, but I came across your blog and this post today and it really spoke to me! We currently have 4 children, our oldest being 11 and our youngest being 6. We have felt very comfortable with the size of our family for the last few years, and I've been telling myself for many of the reasons you posted (it's like you were in my head!) that we should be "done"! Not enough money, not enough time, not enough patience, not enough space... But I get this nagging feeling sometimes that I'm not putting enough faith in God's plan for our family and forgetting His grace when we put our faith and trust in His hands. I am in awe of "big" families, even though compared to many of our friends and acquaintances, we are the "big" family! Sometimes it's hard to be "in the world, but not of the world." I wonder if my reservations to being open to having more children are based on the opinions of our current culture? Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful and insightful post, I don't know why it's never struck me that those feelings of fear and incompetence do not come from Christ! God Bless.

    ReplyDelete
  155. I am all that list and more, preparing to begin fertility hormones again next month in hopes of a fourth child. The doubts, anxieties and WORK of another child were starting to creep to the forefront. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  156. Hi Leila
    I have read and re read this post many times and I am really grateful to you for writing it. Just found out that we will be expecting baby number 7 and one we lost to miscarriage who is in heaven. Thank you for your inspiration. SO many people are telling me so many reasons as to why we should not have anymore etc. Our eldest will be 8 on Sunday and our youngest is 9 months. Thank you once again and please do keep us in your prayers. x

    ReplyDelete

PLEASE, when commenting, do not hit "reply" (which is the thread option). Instead, please put your comment at the bottom of the others.

To ensure that you don't miss any comments, click the "subscribe by email" link, above. If you do not subscribe and a post exceeds 200 comments, you must hit "load more" to get to the rest. We often have meaty and long discussions -- trust me, they're worth following!