"Remember, kids, we expect you to be quiet and calm. You need to respect other people's space and their right to not have craziness and noise around them. We are representing big families and Jesus. Show the public how awesome both are!"
Or something along those lines..
Honestly, this actually works about 98% of the time. There's something to be said for offering an outline of your expectations JUST before you want them carried out. If I had said anything when we got into the vehicle to leave, by the time we got to our destination, all would have been forgotten, lost in the excitement of getting out of the house and all the shiny things to be found.
In any case, this trip proved to be, for some of the kids, in that other 2%.
By the time we got to the checkout where the nine year old was buying himself a froggy doodad (not official fishing lingo), I was D-O-N-E.
The kids had asked if they could spend their dollars on something. "Something" led to picking out nine different things and not being able to decide which ONE they wanted.
And then...there it was...
"Are they all yours?"
I sighed really loud and rolled my eyes away from stranger, pretending to focus on helping the kids pick their one item, but really just cursing low underbreath.
I was livid, really. For so many reasons. I took the two babies in the stroller and left. I didn't abandon hubby, I did ask if I could take them to the car while he had the big 4 at the checkout and he said yes. They had finally picked out their loot and were somewhat quiet again.
Mind you, they weren't even loud or crazy as they chattered and chose their items. I have serious issues when we go out. Everything they do, the decibels of their noise, it all seems to me to be so much MORE when out in public. As if I'm constantly aware of the scrutiny we get as a big family. As if we actually are constantly under said scrutiny. It agitates me. I sometimes freak.
And there is the problem.
It's not really them, it's me.
I think about this fact, that I probably wouldn't be so agitated if I didn't care so much what other people think.
And then I started thinking about how it's not just the general public with their unfiltered thoughts and their self-imposed "right" to say whatever they want to anyone at all. It's even within my own social circle. I recently had a discussion with a friend about how she feels she is judged by big families for NOT having one. We are both Catholic and it's interesting to me that in the same arena she feels judged for not having a big family, I feel judged for having one. I can't even tell you how many Catholics asked me after having my fifth if I was "done." Like the fact that they graciously brought me a meal while I was recovering lent them license to ungraciously ask me such a thing. But not only did they ask, they then went on to talk about why they could never have more than the two or three they have. Like having to dig out 8 pairs of shoes instead of 4 to go out somehow equals mission impossible. That projects onto me.....how?
In any case, I was sitting here thinking about it for a minute and in case there is some lost soul who wandered here to read, I just wanted to encourage you (and this is as much to myself as to you):
DO NOT BE AFRAID.
DO NOT WORRY WHAT OTHERS THINK.
You may wonder, which is right, a small family or large one?
My answer is this: When we are steadfast in prayer and desiring to do what God wants with our family life, NOTHING else matters. Not that nosy stranger at the checkout, not the generous meal-making mama who comes over after you've had baby #2...or baby #8. Not Catholics with bigger families or ones with smaller ones. When you are following the designs of God's will for your life and as a Catholic, the Spirit-inspired teachings of the Church, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. Everything else is just white noise. Our lives are meant to be lived for eternity, not here on earth. Meaning while we spend our days growing, raising and loving our babies- however many we have- if it's all for the Lord, if it's all for God's glory, that's all that matters.
When we stand before God to answer for our lives, being able to say we followed Him instead of the world will be HUGE. What following the Lord looks like in your life may be different than what it looks like in mine. Your pile of shoes by the door might be larger or smaller. Neatly ordered and matched, or strays lost somewhere within the belly of your home. And that's ok. How boring would the world be if we were all called to have the same exact family size and dynamic? God is a god of order, but He isn't a bore. We aren't measuring our worth by the number of shoes by the door.
All of our families vary in so many ways. As long as we are chasing His plan for our lives, the number of children matters not.
There is no point in having one or two kids and then stopping just to appease the world. What does this teach your children about following God's will instead of the ways of the world? There is also no point in having a dozen or more just because you can/feel you should, without also grounding their souls in the Lord. Quality trumps quantity every single time.
Live life for the Lord, not the world, and you are always right.