Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Would it be too much to ask for a little excitement, not too much I wouldn't want you to break a sweat or anything.

I made a decision today that is making me a much happier person. The decision I made is to not feel bad or feel like I have to apologize for having another child.

I have always wanted a large family. Ever since I can remember, I wanted 10 children. I don't know why 10 was the magic number for me, but it was. I remember being assigned an essay in high school to write about my future. I outlined my life with my husband and my 10 children. I remember the teacher, who herself had 7 children, gave me an A+ and told me to not let go of this dream. When Chris and I became serious about getting married, we both discovered that we had the same desire to have lots of children. Our choice to have as many children as we want to have is our choice with each other and with God. I believe 100%+ that God has sent each of my children to our family on His timetable and as He sees fit to bless us. For some reason, He trusts that I can handle what He is giving me. I don't know if we'll actually make it to 10. We are taking them one at a time.

Since my pregnancy with Cameron two years ago, I have awakened to the realization that some family, friends and society in general, find that having a large family is strange, abnormal, mystifying, stupid, crazy...(I could go on with the less than positive adjectives). When we had four children, I think people thought, "Ok, they are having a nice, larger-sized family. This is strange but it's ok." When we expanded to five, I think they thought, "Ok, this one probably was a mistake. Five is a lot of kids but ok, we'll accept five." Now that we are expanding to six, I pretty sure there are some people thinking we must be off our rockers. Here are some actual reactions from actual people to finding out we are pregnant:

Don't you know how to stop that from happening?
Isn't having a large family irresponsible because of over population?
How can you afford that many children?
Why don't you adopt orphaned children?
How will you afford college?
Do you know there are starving children in Africa?
Do you have enough time for all those children? You can't go to all their soccer games at the same time.
Oh, well. I guess, Congratulations.
That is probably one of the most irresponsible things you could do right now.

I think probably the worst reaction is the non-reaction. No acknowledgement, no congratulations, nothing. Even if you are not happy about it, pretend for our sakes. Can you imagine any reasonable person reacting to the news of a first baby with no acknowledgement? It would be unheard of. Well, I am as excited about this sixth baby Vos as I was about the first baby Vos. So you've had to wish me congratulations six times, big deal. Get over it.

Here's my reaction to all the negativity expressed towards any family that is experiencing what I am. I'm only going to defend myself, my family and my situation once. After this, I am choosing to not listen to the criticism. It will fall on deaf ears because I honestly don't care what anyone thinks.

1. Yes, we know how to stop having children. But, why would we want to? Which of ours should we have stopped with? Christopher...Calvin? Maybe Spencer or Cameron? Each of them bring joy to our family in a way that is unique.

2. One of my favorite quotes regarding over-population and starvation is by Henry B. Eyring, "The enemy of human happiness as well as the cause of poverty and starvation is not the birth of children. It is the failure of people to do with the earth what God could teach them to do if only they would ask and then obey.” Children around the world are not dying because families in America (or other developed countries) are having more than 2 children. They are dying because of the varied, and often unjust, policies of these particular countries. Wars and other factors beyond our control ravage the lands and their people. Countless agencies try to bring food to these people, only to be stopped by their own governments.

3. None of my children are neglected. It is true that some times they do not get the one-on-one time their small family counterparts do. Having a small family does not guarantee success. There are many parents who brag about how they provide for their children, yet in the pursuit of career and wealth, spend little time with their kids. From the outside, it may appear that that child and his one sibling are in a perfectly size family, yet the reality is they are receiving less attention than a child in a large family.

Certainly, a mother and father need to be involved and interactive with their children, but siblings play a big part in a large family dynamic. In fact, there are times when our own children do not want us around and would rather be with their sister and brothers. Often heard in our home on Sunday afternoon is a chorus of, "Mom and Dad, go take your naps. We need some Kid Time."

During sports seasons, we had several children playing various sports. There was only one game where someone had to go for 1 quarter without Chris or I there. But, what do you know? Grandpa was there! How special was that?

4. I am continually amazed by how much most large families are able to provide their children with. Video games, toys, nice clothing, outings, vacations, and more. The difference is, most large families view these luxuries as extras. Giving your children toys to play with is something all parents feel is important, but does a child truly need a whole room full? Do they honestly need so many clothes that they grow out of some before wearing them? Isn't it true that in many ways, camping can be just as exciting as spending a week in a nice hotel? Our family has vacationed in some of the most luxurious hotels in the country. We have also camped on our best friends' muddy property. Guess which outing my children ask to do more often.

Right now our financial situation is precarious, yet prospects brighten each day. Financial situations, such as most things in life, are subject to change. It is wrong to say a family should never have more children just because they can't afford it now. It is wrong to judge someone as irresponsible for having a large family when in the past they did have adequate means, but perhaps suffered a job loss or other tragedy that put them in an adverse position.

Not being able to afford a child is subjective. Feeding, clothing, schooling and providing adequate love for a child is really all that is necessary. Many people would be amazed how affordable raising a large family can be if they looked at it from what is needed, as opposed to the wants and luxuries which can be costly but are not required to raise children.

My children might have to get through college the same way millions of other children do. Hard work and student loans. I do hope that we are able to provide for their missions but I will expect them to work and save to help pay for this as well. Luckily we have mostly boys so we won't have all the costly weddings to worry about. :)

So critics and naysayers...leave me alone because I don't care what you think. I don't judge anyone else's choice of family size. I am happy, my husband is happy and my children are happy. This child that we are having now isn't going to be our last, so prepare now to think of something polite to say to us in 2-3 years when we announce baby Vos #7.


Anna & Tony said...

I love the last sentence. You're the best mother in the world...please don't stop having kids.

Danette said...

Awesome!!!!! I absolutely love it!!!! And I'm sorry I am guilty of the non-reaction when you posted on your blog. I usually just don't post comments, but I am really happy for you. One of the women I look up so much to is a mother of six. She is the best mom-- so capable. While I haven't seen your parenting skills, I am absolutely certain you are a fabulous mother, more than capable of having more than SEVEN children! I say go for it. If you can do it, do it! And do not feel bad. And you should start telling this to people's faces. Seriously. Love you!!!!!!!

Stacie said...

Good for you! That's all I have to say!

Suzy said...

The world will be a better place for having another Vos baby. Don't listen to the haters...just be you and be happy. You are doing THE most important thing you can do with your life right now. You go girl!!

Diana said...

It never ever ever ceases to amaze me when people open their mouths to say something as insensitive as what you've heard. I will echo what has already been said in this, you are a wonderful mom and your kids love you and the new baby is ever so lucky to be born into your family.

Mark Brown said...

Way to lay the smack down, Mother Vos!

Sara said...

Hi Jennifer - I read your blog periodically, but don't always post comments. For this one, though, I have to share something similar. I think it'll make you laugh!

Last summer, we had to sell our house in Ohio. It showed 50 times in 8 weeks with no bites. I was 9 months pregnant and had 4 children. It showed everyday! I kept the house immaculate. It was so consuming -- I literally couldn't do any more than I had been doing. We were so frustrated because there wasn't ANY offering going on (buyer's market = slow for sellers). I was 8 days post partum with Sophia when FINALLY we got an offer on the house, so you KNOW I was thrilled to not show the house any longer!

We went to the local pancake house to celebrate -- fun for the kids and they actually ate what we paid for. A table of well dressed professionals watched our family as we ordered/ate/interacted. We were all happy and had reasons to celebrate. Toward the end of the meal, I excused myself to take care of the baby in the ladies' room.

One well-dressed young man, about 28, came over and complimented Mark about how well behaved his many children were during the meal ....and then proceeded to hand him a business card because Mark would need his services (financial planning) because "you'll have a lot of college to pay for!" Can you believe it? We had to laugh........what else is there to do when someone makes themselves look so stupid?

I am proud of my 5 kids -- yes, they are REALLY kids sometimes and we have to walk out of stores when the 3 year old is melting, or pace the back of the church with a tired 10 month old, but they are GREAT people. It's amazing to see them growing. I am always amazed that they are ours. day, they'll be grown, having families of their own and Mark and I will have grandchildren and THAT will be wonderful, too.

I am proud of your family -- beautiful, healthy,fun and smart -- and I feel it's a heavenly gift to desire, be able to bear and to nurture a large family.

May your capacities be increased and your gifts be many as you welcome precious children into your home. And please know you are loved and supported by many. We celebrate you and are counting down with your online counter!!

Sara said...

PS: The comment I hear the most is, "'ve got your hands full!" And my best comeback line is: "Better full than empty!" (accompanied by a BIG smile)! Totally catches people off guard!

Faith said...

You have my heartiest congratulations! And there are enough of us out there who can't have kids, that it's nice to know people who can do so responsibly are doing so!

Nicole said...

I hadn't read this when you originally posted it. At that point I didn't know you had a blog, and only had barely matched a face to a name.

I remember the glowing smile on your face after sacrament meeting as I overheard you tell other ward members of your newly discovered pregnancy. You had kids tugging at you, and Cameron was crying in your neck, but I could tell you were undeniably happy.

I admire you for your unwavering determination to have you quiver full of love and family. It makes me sad to see how negative people can be about the VERY personal and spiritual decisions that happen in planning a family. I loved having Cameron in nursery with me. He was unique and sweet and loved to sit in my lap and give me a hug. The Vos family would NOT have been complete without him. Or Lizzie. Or #7.

Actually, this post has spurred a really long response that I'll email to you when I finish it. Don't want to bore your readers about all the details of how I almost died after having Rosie.

Becca said...


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