One of the realities of my life right now is that there is a dividing line that happens in almost every first/intro conversation I have with people (and this last year has included a lot of those)…
- The normally-progressing conversation that happens before…
- and then the shift that comes after…
… people find out I have nine kids.
I’m telling you, if you are the mother of nine kids, whether you want it to or not, the topic will dominate a good portion of any “intro” convo you’re going to have with folks.
Here’s the way my side of the conversation sounds, almost every time, whether it’s with a new person I’m meeting at church, or the grocery clerk:
“Yes, (smile) nine.”
“Seventeen and a half down to one and a half.”
“Only one girl. She’s the 13 year old.”
“Yes, she’s the third.”
“Yeah.” (my response to their observation, which is almost certainly one of two things: “well, she’ll have a lot of protectors.” or, “well, she’ll probably be tough”)
“Yes we homeschool them.”
“No, none are adopted.”
“Yup, I delivered each one.”
“No, no twins.”
“No, we didn’t always think we’d have this many.”
“Well, honestly, I don’t know how I do it either, but God helps me.”
It used to annoy me. And it still does a little, but mostly, this is just my life, and I’ve come to accept it.
There is a small slice of me that likes when I get away with not spilling that whole sack of beans the very first time I meet someone. Because those are the times when I just get to be plain old me. Rather than people immediately inwardly jumping to some combination of:
“impressive, homeschooling, wonder-birthing, pregnant-barefoot-and-in-the-kitchen, godly, probably-an-amazing-housekeeper, was-she-raised-Amish?, probably-never-struggles-with-anger, is-it-possible-she’s-Mormon?, impossibly-patient, uneducated, otherkins”
they just talk to me. They interact with me like a normal person rather than fixating on one quality about me.
It’s rare, but nice, when that happens.
Certain traits carry with them other implications, don’t they?
I mean, if you were an American male in your late teens or early 20s who stood near seven feet tall, it seems very likely that nearly everyone you met would fixate on your height, and ask you if you play one particular sport, right? (basketball)
And it’s been my observation that being a homeschooling mom of 9 can immediately imply other things in people’s minds:
- my beliefs about birth control, schooling, vaccinations, working moms
- that I probably did not go to college and never had a career
- that I have not done anything interesting in my life
- that I might have quirky/unorthodox religious beliefs (Catholic? Mormon? quiverful?)
- that I have beliefs about what other people should do with their family size
and people treat me thus, and perhaps expect me to treat them accordingly.
Declaration of My Value As a Homeschooling Mom
But like that beautiful new hymn that declares, “My Worth Is Not In What I Own,” I’m at a juncture–
- 40 years old
- with nearly-adult children
- in a new community
- starting to write again
where I want to declare:
My worth is not in homeschooling,
In circs, vaccines, or home birthing.
Not grains-, nuts-, dyes-, or gluten-free–
Christ in me.
My worth is not in having nine,
Not exercise, or home design.
But in the work done by my King,
At the Cross.
My worth is not in good advice,
Nor keeping my brood looking nice.
The grace of Christ is what I need,
from the Cross.
I will not boast in Bible time,
Not choices, deeds, nor skills of mine,
In Christ alone comes grace and peace,
from the cross!
My worth is not in what I do.(final 2 lines from the Getty’s song. The rest, from my heart.)
Not in my clothing, hair, or shoes.
My value fixed, my ransom paid–
at the Cross.
In all that I write here, and articles I share across social media, and advice I offer from time to time… I want the banner above it all to read:
God has been merciful to me– a sinner.
- Not because I make all the “right” choices.
- Not because I have accomplished XYZ, or not done LMNOP.
- Not because I live according to carefully-parsed-out rules.
- Not because I have a bunch of kids, or breastfeed in a particular way, or educate my kids in this/that way.
Any such message, that would highlight my human effort or decision-making, is building on a faulty foundation– and runs contrary to the message of the Gospel.
Let’s not affix our value, identity, and hope on anything other than Jesus. No matter the size and shape of our family, no matter your convictions, or life decisions, He is good, and we can trust Him. It’s true for you, true for me, and true for every human.
He is gracious because He is gracious.
He saves because He is a Savior.
He offers steadfast love and kindness because He is kind and loving.
What a great God, that He would love and save all manner of humans, including even weak and weary homeschooling moms like me.
Grace and Peace,