Raised eyebrows, wide eyes, and a slow, fake smile is the most common reaction I get when I reply “Yes.” The baby in my belly was in fact, on purpose.
“Was it on purpose?”
Often when I am in public with my daughter, several strangers will stop to tell me how cute she is. They smile and wave at her and she smiles back. Then the stranger notices my pregnant belly, which is sometimes not super obvious depending on how I’m standing and what T-shirt I have on that day.
“And another on the way?” they typically ask. I smile and say, “Oh yes, due this winter.” They usually follow up with, “How far apart will they be?” The answer is 18 months.
To be fair, a majority of people are happy, tell me congratulations, and go on about their day. But what has shocked me is the number of people that ask, “Was it on purpose?” Even though I feel that the decisions my husband and I prayerfully discern are nobody else’s business, I unabashedly let them know it was on purpose.
Disapproval from strangers
Some people are genuinely delighted and continue on their way. But often, I get some type of fake smile and awkward reply before they hurry away. I can sense their disapproval, and they know it.
Some strangers take it a step further and offer me advice or tell me their life story. Some people feel the need to comment that the decision we’ve made will be hard on us and on my body.
More than one person has said “Good, you can be done raising kids early in your life.” One woman shared with me that her two kids were 18 months apart as well, and she made sure to instill in her daughter not to do that. Her daughter was with her, nodding along.
I want a big family and believe children are blessings
I’ve always wanted a big family. They radiate joy, love, and warmth. I loved my daughter so much from the minute she was born, and I knew I didn’t want to wait years and years to have another little baby. I’ve definitely heard stories of people having four or five kids (or more) in the grocery store, and someone feels the need to ask the mom if she knows how babies are made. I had no idea the comments would come this early when I just had one child with me.
Although I know the disapproval of some strangers shouldn’t bother me, it can sting a little bit. An 18-month age difference and two kids is nothing unusual or radical. How many more comments will I have with baby #3 or #7, and how much meaner will they get? I have no intention of being done raising children early in my life if that is not the Lord’s plan, despite what some others seem to think.
If you’ve ever experienced something similar, I would like to offer some reassuring words to women who face disapproval of any kind for wanting children.
What the Lord would say
When I’m discouraged after a negative interaction, I imagine myself instead running into Jesus at the store. What would He have said to me? We can get a pretty good idea. The book of Timothy gives us a pretty blunt idea of the Lord’s views on having children. The author writes in 1 Timothy 2:14-15, “Further, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed. But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
It’s clear what Jesus would have said to me. No matter the age difference, no matter the number of children it would have been for me, He would have given me His approval. Not only is the baby in my belly a gift from Him, but it is my calling and my path to Heaven. As long as I have the Lord’s approval, I don’t need anyone else’s.
If society doesn’t like it, you’re probably doing it right
Whether you’re already a mama of many kids, or a mama discerning if you’re called to have more, or a single woman beginning to think about all this, don’t be discouraged by disapproval from others. If you experience scorn from society at large, you’re probably on the right path for the Lord.
Don’t be afraid to reject this anti-life culture. When you choose to have kids, and choose to give your children siblings, you are creating a home full of love. You’re creating a place where your children can be who they were made to be, and they experience acceptance of that. You are creating people that will grow to be selfless adults who know the value of family. You’re giving your children people they can count on and lean on in difficult times as an adult. You’re making sure they’ll be well taken care of after you’re gone. Don’t doubt yourself, your choices, and don’t doubt your God.
Someday, I’ll come up with a witty, but kind and loving response for strangers sharing their opinion. Hopefully it will make them stop and reconsider; hopefully it will lead them to God’s will for them. But until then, I’ll do my best.
And you will too. Just remember mamas, you’re not alone. The Lord is with you. Other mamas are with you. You’ve got this.