On Having Eight Children

“Children are an heritage of the Lord…happy is the man who has a quiver full of them.” – Psalm 127

The recently-delivered edition of the Pontificating Potty Post has a list of April Fools “Facts”, and one of the possibilities is that Jeanette is pregnant with our 8th child. That is not one of the April Fools. It’s true.

We’ve been asked in several different ways the same question – “why?” We have never been rich, though we’ve been comfortable a couple of times during the 17+ years we’ve been married. It isn’t as if we’ve had money overflowing to take care of so many little people. We live in a nice house, but not a spectacular one, and it’s getting a little crowded. It’s already very hard to find enough time to spend with each of our spectacular children, and adding one more is not going to help that.

On top of that, Jeanette is 41. I’ll be 40 in July. When this kid goes to college, we’ll be 60. Its oldest brother (I almost said “her” older brother – and we do very much hope that the child is a girl) is 16 now and will be almost 17 when she’s born – he’ll be nearly my age when this child is a freshman in college. This child means another three years of potty training (or possibly more, depending on the child), another four years of cub scouts, another eight years of teenage-hood to deal with. Altogether, we’ll weather 64 years of teenagers in this house. If, as some experts estimate, each child costs $350,000 or so to raise, we’ll have spent over $2.8 million raising our eight, and that’s if we do not decide to adopt after this, which we’ve considered. Lots of money, lots of kids. We live in a very devout Mormon community here, and our family is the largest among even these people (though two have had more children that are grown and gone now). Even my sainted mother only had seven. Only!

Behind the why, we hear the echoes of these and other questions – Aren’t we worried about pregnancy complications? Am I not concerned about my wife’s heath and well-being? I run a mortgage company – what happens if it goes belly-up, as so many of my competitors have done? What about the scarce resources of the earth – don’t I care that my family is consuming too much of them? How can we possibly love so many kids, and give them the attention they need?

The short answer is yes, we’re worried about all those things. But the true answer is no, we’re not. Obviously, because I just listed them, I know what the potential difficulties will be. Jeanette is not invincible (I assume), and as tough as she is – and she’s the toughest woman I know – she could have trouble with a pregnancy so late in her life. But she hasn’t so far, and she never has before. She’s in good physical shape – weighs now, in her second trimester, about what she did when she graduated from high school – and mentally, she’s better than ever. Besides, this was HER idea, more even than it was mine. I’ve said before, many times, this isn’t my show here. She runs the house, and she’s in charge here, and it’s her body. My part of the child-creation process is relatively short and quite pleasurable, to be frank. It’s she that has to carry the kid around for the next three years. All I have to do is pay for it.

And that part is always taken care of. No, as I mentioned, we’re not rich by Robin Leach standards. Frequently, and now is one of those frequent times, we go long stretches without any money at all. But we’ve done pretty well, through apparently no fault of my own. We’ve always had a house to live in, though we’ve been through the threat of foreclosure once, we’ve always had food (remind me to tell you about the miracles we’ve seen there, one of these days), and since Alexander was 2, Jeanette hasn’t worked outside the home. I’ve been through four business failures and countless job and career changes, yet here we are, fed and clothed and living in one of the larger houses in Lehi. Two cars in the garage. A Wii. Two trampolines.

Short of it is, we don’t worry because we are, and always have been, in the hands of a loving God. He has cared for us every day of our lives, and usually in ways so tangible and obvious they bring tears to our eyes. One of our favorite family traditions is the “tell us what God did for you today” reports at the dinner table. Even our youngest children see His mighty arm in all the things that we do.

We really decided to have child number 8 because of Him. See, we really believe in Him, that He has a plan for us and that He loves us. So many of our friends would love to have more children, but they can’t. Or their children are physically challenged. Or they cannot support more than they have. Or they cannot physically handle the pregnancy. Or on and on. Our children are healthy, bright, and engaging, we have enough and a little left over, Jeanette can physically and mentally handle the load. Maybe others can’t have more children, but we can. How could we then say no? And the children are OURS, in a way that nothing much in this temporary existence is. It’s said that you can’t take it with you. Oh, you can take it with you, all right, you just have to convert it into the currency they use in the place where you’re going.

Family is the coin of that Realm. I’d like as much of it as possible. After all, if you really, truly believed that there was another life after this one, and that it was being prepared for you by a being who loves you more than you can possibly imagine – and I assure you, there is and He does – why wouldn’t you act like it? If you could trade a thing in this life, money or time or health or what have you – for a thing in the next, that would never die, but always be a joy to you, why on earth wouldn’t you do it?

Hope it’s a girl.

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