Those are just a few of the things you’ll hear from complete strangers if you have more than the nationally approved average of 1.7 children. And that doesn’t include the dirty looks and laughter directed your way. You might have heard of manspreading or fat-shaming, the latest outrages in our PC culture. Well, today I’m adding a new one to the list: Kid-shaming.
It really seems to boggle the mind of the average American that anyone would want more than 2 kids. The assumption is that number three must be an accident. I mean, it’s a proven fact that kids make you miserable, right? They cost a quarter of a million dollars to raise, don’t they? Not to mention they are bad for the environment!! Basically, in the popular imagination, kids are the equivalent of a sexually transmitted disease—and who would want more than one or two of those??
Kids are awesome
Forget what the culture says. Kids are awesome. There is nothing like having two miniature men run to the door screaming “Daddy!” the moment I walk in the door. There are few things as happy as having little arms wrapped around my neck, or hearing a little voice say, “I love you, daddy.” Or seeing a boy with his hat on backward pretending that he is a baseball player. Or wrestling fiercely with two pint-sized warriors.
It is such a joy to help a little life discover the world—to explore, to learn, to wonder at nearly everything. It is such a happiness to watch them proudly sport a milk mustache and say, “I have a beard just like you!” Then there’s bedtime stories, hilarious sentences said with all seriousness, building immense towers out of blocks, watching them fold their hands in prayer and hearing little voices talk about how they love Jesus and Mary. Believe me, I could go on.
Fatherhood is sometimes terrifying, yes, but mostly, it is dizzyingly happy. There are many times when I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude for it.
Of course, there are times of stress, and frustration, and sacrifice too. There are the wet beds; the stubborn refusals to eat perfectly good food; the horrific diapers; the screaming tantrums; trips to the ER; unexpected expenses; the flu and ear infections; barbaric yawps during the consecration at Mass—you get the picture. And I have no doubt that as my children grow, the sorrows will only increase. There is no love without pain. That is the way things are in a fallen world. And as more experienced parents would be quick to remind me, I am just beginning the journey.
Arrows in the Hands of a Warrior
One of the Psalms I’ve grown to love is Psalm 127. It contains some great advice about trusting the Lord with your labors, and the goodness of God’s blessings. But my favorite part is the end, where it talks about how children are a gift, not a curse:
“Fatherhood itself is the Lord’s gift, the fruitful womb is a reward that comes from him. Crown of thy youth, children are like arrows in a warrior’s hand. Happy, whose quiver is well filled with these…”
Did you catch that? The one with many children is happy. We found out recently that baby number three is on the way, and believe me, it’s true—I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to welcome this new life. Men, children aren’t something to be embarrassed about or to apologize for. They are precious gifts to rejoice in. They are as beautiful and elegant as arrows in the hand of a skilled and mighty warrior. We must simply be sure to aim them at heaven.
In conclusion, don’t let the world steal the joy of fatherhood. Brush off the haters. Yes, you probably could have a bigger house or a fancier car if you didn’t have more kids. But who cares? What good is a big house empty of laughter and joy? And a car won’t give love back to you, no matter how fun it is to drive. Give me a small house filled with a lot of children and a rusty van crammed with car seats any day. I mean that.
Men, celebrate your children. Have a lot of them. Love them, devote your time and attention to them, pray for them, invest in them—but above all, treasure them. Other blessings pass, but children are a reward that will last forever.