One of the classic questions we get asked as moms is how many children we have. I always thought it would be an easy and straight forward question to answer. Now it is not, and I don’t know how to answer this question. Because it’s really complicated. I have two boys who I carried and birthed. One is here with me, and one is in Heaven. Recently my family became a foster family. Now we have the blessing of having more children in our home, and it’s quite a privilege. It’s interesting when I’m out and about with my 3 very young children to get comments such as “will you have more?” “Are you done now?” “You must be tired.” Sometimes I elaborate and others I just smile and nod.
I never feel completely comfortable answering the question. Before we became a foster family, I had my answer down pat. I would say that I had 2 boys — my son here and explain that our second son passed away. Now I’m still perfecting my answer.
Thinking about my difficulty with this question, I started thinking about other moms who have a hard time with this question. Either because of loss, longing, mixed families, or whatever it may be. I started to become aware that there are all kinds of different families and different situations. I’ve thought for several years now that my family wasn’t the “ideal” family and the perfect family with the well-spaced kids who will grow up together. We may look pretty average and plain from the outside but our story is anything but that.
The good thing about thinking of my family situation and how I don’t know how to answer this question is that it got me thinking outside of myself. Once I realized it was hard for me, I realized it was hard for others. Then I started to think of all of those around me who could use some encouraging words or a hand or a box of donuts by their front door because their group of kids was driving them up a wall or because their house was way too empty and lonely because they lost a child or don’t have the one they dream of.
I’m all too quick to look at a situation, or even a family, and judge what’s going on. I think most of us are, but we really aren’t doing our fellow moms any good when we do that. I’ve been reminded to take the time to listen to other women. To ask their stories. To hear their stories. To know their families. If you happen to see me one day and we strike up a conversation and you ask me how many kids I have and I stutter and pause and stammer — I’ve not completely lost my mind. I’m just not sure how to answer that question.