So, by now most of you know I'm expecting, this time my eighth child. Reactions to the news have mostly been positive, but there have been a few negative comments and some raised eyebrows. Perhaps I'm just ultra-sensitive, ready to pick up on the least hint of negativity, or perhaps I'm just pregnant and emotional, but I've felt the hurt of it -- the feeling that others are rejecting this baby or judging me.
I've announced my pregnancy to some friends, expecting them to share my excitement and gotten instead shrugged shoulders and a change of subject. I guess I can understand it a bit; after all, I've done this before, so perhaps they think that for me, it's just become routine, like announcing we're buying a new car or going on a vacation, nothing too new or different or exciting.
But to me, this is something to be celebrated. It's exciting and wonderful and miraculous. This child is unique and special, and this is his chance to experience earth life. I believe, as it says in Job, that we were there at the foundations of the world, "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) This child I am welcoming was among them, and I don't think he feels short-changed in any way because his mother has given birth before. This is his time, his place, his chance, his miracle.
Sometimes I feel very lonely, especially for a mentor, for someone who has been there and understands what I'm experiencing. We have more kids than anyone I know personally (at least that's still raising them). I wish I knew lots of moms who had more children, so I could ask them my questions, pour out my heart, and learn from their experiences. Actually, I'd be happy to know just one or two! The internet, with its wonderful, connecting power, helps some, as I've made some friends through blogs and other forums.
But there's something so nourishing about an in-person friendship. A phone call, a walk, sitting together at a park or in a living room and really understanding one another. I do understand that I have a lot to learn from women whose experiences are different from my own, but it often seems that I am left on the outside of friendships with those who have fewer children, even when we're the same age. We don't get invited to dinner or to join in activities. Again, I get it; seven kids is a lot to invite over, and surely, that mom with seven is far enough along in life that she's plenty busy and doesn't need your friendship. We tend to congregate around those who are at the same stage of life as we are in. Most of the moms who live around me have two or three children, so it's natural they tend to band together and enjoy each other.
But where does that leave me? There are not an abundance of large families nearby for me to band together with! In fact, a recent article reported that according to the 2006 census, just .5 percent, or one mother in two hundred, has more than seven children. No wonder I'm beginning to feel as if I'm the only person in the world with more than six kids! I understand a lot of the reasons there aren't more large families, from the pressure to fit into the world's standards of acceptable to the very real financial, emotional, and health concerns to the pain of infertility. The fact is, even if a couple wanted to have a lot of children and eschewed birth control, many would never have eight children. A hundred years ago, there were a lot of large families of eight, ten, and even twelve or more children, yes, but there were also families of one, two, or none.
I'm really not complaining (Okay, maybe I am, a little). And I should point out that I have been blessed with good friendships. One of my best friends has six children and is the one I call or walk with when life gets just a bit too tough. Another of my best friends lives in New York, and thanks to email, our friendship has survived eleven years, through several moves, her life in Sweden and Israel, and soon-to-be thirteen births between us. Some of my other friends send me quick notes in response to my weekly emails or lift me in other ways. I am so grateful for the good people around me.
But sometimes, I feel lonely.