We Could Have Stopped

My wife is a flipper. As in, a television channel flipper. Back in the days when we only had “rabbit ears” for an antenna, I once caught her flipping back and forth between just two channels, even though she knew what was on both of them. We still don’t have cable, mainly by choice rather than economic restriction,  so our television viewing choices are somewhat limited. We’re able to get NBC, CBS, ABC, KET (That’s Kentucky Education Television, a PBS affiliate, in case you ain’t from the Bluegrass State.), The WB, and, if the weather is just right, Fox. On most nights, this is plenty for us, but there are occasions where limited options force us into some desperate viewing.

Last week, as she was holding our nearly four-month-old daughter, Sara, my wife stopped on a program on PBS called Scott & Bailey. TV Jones Sharp 1Even after watching a few minutes of the show, I still know virtually nothing about it, but here’s my best synopsis of what it’s about: Scott and Bailey are female cops, and it looks like some kind of BBC program. On this particular episode, Scott or Bailey (I’m still not sure which is which…) found out she was pregnant, which can obviously throw a wrinkle into the career of a female officer of the law.

Much British-y type angst ensued, as Scott/Bailey broke up with the father of said baby (I’m not sure why this was, but the guy was such a snotty jerk I didn’t have to think too hard about this particular plot point.) and various bits of wisdom on what a pregnant female cop should do in Scott or Bailey’s situation should do were bandied about. In one particularly chilling scene, the pregnant cop asked her non-pregnant cop partner what she would do in her situation, and she very flatly replied, “I would get rid of it.”

It. Not “he” or “she” or even “the baby.” It, as if the beginnings of life inside a woman are equal to an unwanted wart or an old shirt you don’t wear anymore. They might as well have been talking about an old couch.

On Valentine’s Day, my son, Caleb, celebrated his third birthday. Caleb was our fourth child, and I’m pretty sure even then everyone caleb ice creamaround us thought we were having too many children. By the time we had Sara this past October, I think they had all pretty lost hope we’d ever come to our senses. In case you missed the total there, we have five children. I attended my 20 year high school reunion this past year, and when I told people how many kids we had you would have thought I had just stepped off a spaceship from Mars. “You do know how that happens, right?” Heh, heh… yeah… never heard that one before… sigh…

There are days, though, when even I question the sanity of having a larger family. This usually happens on those days when I don’t feel like I make enough money to give my children (and wife) all the things I think they need. I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if we had just stopped with the two girls. Of course, as pastor and family speaker Voddie Baucham says, you’re allowed to go for a third if the first two are of the same gender, so, technically, we were okay to go for one more.

Those thoughts don’t last very long, though, when I think about the personalities of all my kids. They’re all so distinct in how they talk, what they want to wear, how they interact with other children… Had they never come into the world, those personalities would never have existed, and I can’t imagine a world without them. They were meant to be here.

I don’t mean any of this to come off as my looking down on families that choose to only have a couple of kids. That may be what you feel like God told you to do. He didn’t tell us that after two, three, or even four. That gets us some funny looks and even some vitriol here and there. I remember posting a link to a story about the Duggar family on Facebook one time, and a guy I used to work with said he lives right down the road from them now. He called them “freaks.” Of course, his favorite movie to watch on Netflix is “Blue Chips,” so I’m not so sure how highly regarded his opinion should be.

No matter what the future may hold for our family, I cannot imagine a world without all five of our children. We could have stopped. I’m glad we didn’t.

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