I have two children. That’s just a bit over the national average here in America. But it’s about five less than the local average. Parents tend to have large families around here. Twelve passenger vans are not a rarity, and it’s very common to see teenage children caring for their toddler and baby siblings. I once heard that the average number of children in one of our local churches was seven.
My husband and I always planned on having a pretty big family- at least four kids, maybe even five. We wanted to be radically open to life. We were fully prepared to welcome as many children as God gave us. We assumed that number would be four or five. We never expected it to be two.
We always planned on being counter-cultural. We wanted to have lots of children, while most Americans were only having one or two. We loved the idea of having a big family, of living in a house filled with kids, noise, laughter, and love. We wanted to welcome every child that God gave us with an open heart and open arms. And we did welcome every child He gave us. We rejoiced over each birth. But there have only been two.
Having two kids around here makes me feel like a failure. Surrounded by huge families with so many more children than us, we always wonder if we are being judged. If people are wondering why we only have two children, why I’m not pregnant with our third child yet. I wonder that too. Why has God only given us two children when we wanted more? Why shouldn’t we be given another child when we have always promised to be open to life? My arms are wide open and empty, Lord— why won’t you fill them?
At some point in our journey, I realized the truth. We have done everything God asked of us. We have been open to life; we have welcomed every child that God has given us. We have been pro-life. That is all God has ever asked of us. He wanted us to be open to life, and we have been. He wanted us to welcome children with open arms, and we have.
The Christian vocation is not to have a big family. It’s not even to have as many children as physically possible. It’s to be open to life. It’s to welcome our children with open hearts and arms. And it’s to raise them in the faith, doing everything in our power to get our children to heaven.
I am not a failure because we only have two children. I am not a failure because I might never need to drive a twelve-passenger van. I am not a failure if we can’t give our children more siblings. None of those things makes me a failure. That was never the mission. That was never my calling.
I would be a failure if my kids don’t make it to heaven. That is my vocation. That is my mission. I don’t need to have as many children as physically possible to succeed. I don’t need to have a huge family. I don’t need to drive a twelve-passenger van. I just need to be open to life. I need to accept the children that God gives me. I need to work and pray to help my children get to heaven. I need to raise my children in the faith so that they can fall in love with Christ. That’s how I will succeed. That’s how I will fulfill my mission. That’s how I will answer my calling in life.
As a Christian mom, my job is not to have as many kids as possible. It’s to get the kids that I have to heaven. That’s a job that I do not take lightly. And it’s the most beautiful job of all.