Taken from Chris & Wendy Jeub’s book Have Another Child, release date May 2010:
Life at our home is never boring. Activity is the rule of our days, and we thrive in it. We’re busy, but it isn’t dysfunctional busy, not like a workaholic who dives into an activity to avoid deeper issues in life. We’re busy because there is life going on in every corner of our house. Right now, the baby’s starting to stand up, the toddler is into spontaneous dancing, the preschooler is reading the alphabet, the boys are growing like weeds, the teenagers are preparing for debate and speech–we could go on and on. There is never a boring moment in our home. Children are our life and family is who we are.
Perhaps this is what people find so fascinating about big families like ours. Each child has such a dynamic personality that we have a tough time keeping up with every one. The social norm is approximately two children per couple, the nuclear family, perhaps one boy and one girl. I can imagine what they think of families like ours. “Wow, our family multiplied 7 or 8 times. That’s insane!” And they watch Kids by the Dozen, The Duggars, and Jon & Kate Plus 8 with extreme interest and curiosity.
We didn’t have reference to these popular shows early in our married life. Fifteen children was not even a thought to us. Honestly, we had difficulty with the idea of multiple children, letting them come one after another, because no one in our social circles was doing anything close to what was on our hearts. Chris was a school teacher with more children than any of the other teachers in the entire district (a whopping five children at the time). When Isaiah was born, our firstborn son, all social pressures said it was time to stop. Opinions rolled in–usually unsolicited–from doctors, coworkers, neighbors, church, and extended family. We didn’t have a family of a dozen kids next door encouraging us to have another child. We were alone in our conviction.
On our hearts was a simple prodding: have another child. It wasn’t “have 15 children” or “have more children than anyone else.” Our convictions are very personal, shaped for our lives and our hearts, stemming from our personal relationship with God. As husband and wife, we prayed together and read scripture together. We reasoned together through our weak moments when we doubted our convictions and questioned our sanity.
Our doubts were strong at that time in our life, but our fertility was stronger. Despite a fair amount of effort, we had three boys right in a row: Isaiah, Micah and Noah. Bing, bang, boom. Hardly a year between any of them. By 1998 we had seven children, 4 girls and 3 boys. We were still in our 20s and feeling incredibly healthy and blessed.
A funny thing happened at seven children. The social pressure disappeared. Our family and friends stopped dropping those annoying comments like, “Aren’t you done yet?” or “You do know how that happens, don’t you?” When you have two, you’re extremely normal; at four or five, you are in the same boat as many married couples, wondering whether or not to cut the line and stop having children. Once you’re at seven, you’re in Loonyland–you’re “out there” and there ain’t no persuading you.
Something happened to us, too. The pressures to conform began to roll off our backs. Instead of wondering if we were crazy, we would reflect on how exciting our life was. We laughed the wise cracks off. “You do know how that happens, don’t you?” Yeah, we do, but we refuse to give it up. Or yes, and we’re really good at it. And here’s one that I (Chris) told a newspaper reporter, and it ended up in the local paper: Wendy does, but she won’t tell me. Even cynics laugh with us.
We’re now in our 40s, have two adult children, a grandchild, three teenagers, two tweenagers, three middleagers (is there such a thing?), two kindergartners, three toddlers and a baby. We look back on our early 20s and think, how petty our anxiousness. We wrenched our hands and struggled with our convictions. For what? To avoid this life of limitless activity and joy and love? We are so happy we can hardly stand it. When we sit back and reflect (rarely happens in our busy life, but we manage to find the time now and then), we are incredibly thankful that we didn’t give in when we were young.
Perhaps this is why families find our life fascinating. We’re still young–we could have more children–and we live a free life without the burden of worry that we may have another child. Controlling conception doesn’t fill our thoughts, and discovering a pregnancy is, without any hesitation, joyous news. We make love without worrying something will “go wrong.” We welcome the blessing of children, and our home is filled with the joy of the prospect. This freedom is wonderful. This family life is liberating.
Deep down inside, couples wonder, “What would our life be like if we just let children come?“
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