As I mentioned earlier today, I had an experience yesterday to share. I’m not proud of the way I handled it, but I’m all for being open and honest here about our journey. I’ve reacted to rude comments about our family size before but this was probably the very first time the comments struck a nerve related to having a child with medical issues. Or at least the first time they really ticked me off enough to have a hissy fit over them. You’ll see what I mean…
So here I was early on Saturday morning at WalMart. My sweet husband was at home with the 7 children while I grocery shopped. Sometimes we all go shopping together, but not this day. I just wanted to get in, shop, and get home. When you have a family of 9 a grocery trip is pretty big – a very full cart or two. It’s just a fact of life. I am nearly finished unloading my groceries onto the conveyor belt when the cashier asks: “Are you having a party or something?”
“No, I just have a lot of children,” was my vague, non-threatening, non-inviting-you-to-snoop-in-my-business reply.
“How many children do you have?” she asks.
“I have 7,” I say with a cheerful smile.
Here is where things begin to go downhill. Not that they couldn’t have been salvaged, but I think this lady simply had no filter between what her brain thought and what her mouth said.
“Oh.My.G--. I couldn’t imagine. I would just kill myself if I had that many children.” Oh, yes, she did say that. I was still doing okay at this point. I kindly pointed out that everyone is different and so is every family. I figured it would be dropped, but no. It got worse when she opened her mouth again.
“What are you trying to do? Have as many children as the Duggars?”
Now let me interject something here. I have actually met the Duggar family and they are sweet, kind, friendly, loving people. I admire their absolute conviction that children are a blessing from God and fully agree with them. I also have heard this question before and it doesn’t bother me. Every family is different. I don’t think we’ll ever have close to 19 children, or that anyone should have a particular number of children. 1, 2, 7, or 19 – it’s between you, your spouse, and God. It’s nobody else’s business. But then this lady kept talking.
“Can you believe her? She’s got too many children as it is and you know that any more children she has are going to be sick. We don’t need any more sick children brought into this world. That’s just irresponsible.”
And right there is where I lost it folks. So many times during a pregnancy I've said "I don't care what the baby is, just so long as it's healthy." Admit it, you’ve said it too, haven’t you? Then we found out we were having Mason and our hearts and perspective changed. Now that we have a baby who is not healthy, normal, or typical I see just how limited my view was. We're thrilled to have Mason and it doesn't matter that he brought health issues out of the womb. His life is precious: healthy, sick, or otherwise. After this woman’s comments I could not remain silent.
“Excuse me, but every child is a blessing and every child deserves to live with a loving family even if they’re sick. Obviously you wouldn’t be a fit mother, but….” and I went on from there. For a while. Quite a while. Eventually I came around to these words:
“Do you remember, Ma’am, that I said I have seven children? That 7th child is a month old today and we knew months before he was born that he was ‘sick’, as you put it. He has lifelong medical issues. That doesn’t mean he won’t have a fulfilling, wonderful life – he’s a precious boy and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. And yes, I hope to have more children, because every child is a blessing from God.”
The cashier didn’t say anything as she finished ringing up my order. She handed me my receipt with a subdued “Have a nice day ma’am.” To which I answered:
“I will. I’m going to go home and enjoy all my children.”
* * * * * *
So, as you can see, I didn’t handle that as well as I should have, but I couldn’t just remain silent. Her words struck a nerve in my heart. How can someone say a child does not deserve to be born if it is not going to be perfectly normal and healthy? And yet I know the words she said only reflect the culture at large. Children are not valued today as it is - but a child who is sick, disabled, or anything other than normal is seen as a burden to be avoided at all costs.
I am ever so grateful for the knowledge that God doesn’t make mistakes when He is knitting together these little bodies in the womb. Mason is just one example of this beautiful truth. Why can’t people see that?