Monday, April 19, 2010

Too Many

This past weekend, I took my son to a party. I didn't know the family so I stayed. Eventually, the conversation took place. It almost always takes place any time I go somewhere new. "How many children do you have?" And when I answered, “Nine.” The response was, "You have too many." I made a joke and went out to help with games. I am not mad at the person who said this, it happens too often to spend time being mad. But I would not have been at that party if I hadn't been willing to have child number six. And even back then, people said, "Too many."

Eventually, he sought me out and revealed he was one of six. He never explained why I had too many, but I worried one day my children will say, "Too many" to some other mother because they didn't feel satisfied with home. I hope not. I hope they go to school and out into the world and come home feeling filled; that love for them brims over everywhere and there's always time and hugs and attention that is simply theirs and theirs alone. We try. We will fail but we will never cease trying.

"Too many." "Did you plan this?" "I guess it's okay if you can afford it.""What about me time?" all these statements are ways of asking the same thing, "Why didn't you limit yourself with this age of birth control? Why aren't you now?"

Simple. We're supposed to pour our whole selves out and not leave one drop. Jesus doesn't send any of the 5000 away. Even though He had enough for just his 12. We're supposed to practice loving infinitely here in order to be ready for when we have forever in the presence of the one who is Love. God would not say, "Too many" and so we should not either.

Going to mass, sometimes my husband and I take shifts and I feel the absence of my "too many" so much so, it is more distracting than if I had to manage those too many others that aren't present. As a kid, whenever we went to reunions, I always counted who came and noted who couldn't; and I pined for whoever didn't show. I always wanted everyone; and I was even happier when we could add extras to the everyone that was there. That moreness was in the food and the music and the people at the party and I would wrap myself in that feeling of being surrounded by so many I loved.

So when I got to visit my family in Texas, I still felt the absence of those who were nearby but not able to be with us and still missed that my total joy was not possible because so many of the sources of my happiness were somewhere else. Heaven will eliminate that great separation from everyone we love or have loved or who have loved us. We will be a seamless garment of Christ. Utopia is not a lack of want or need, but a society peopled by souls who rejoice in not merely service but in the opportunity to serve out of love for the One who is Love and it is a state of society only possible through love.

We will all get to be fishers of souls on Earth when we get to Heaven, trying to make sure we get everyone where they need to be by our prayers and our petitions; but that means we must practice catching souls today as well. We can never have too many then, and so we cannot love too many then or now.

Blessed Mother Teresa observed the multitude hungry for love that are everywhere and asked us to find our own Calcutta, and make it something brighter. It is love that never places limits on how long we serve or how long we submit or how long we wait in joyful hope. Love will demand that we meet physical needs of those around us; love will demand that we know them; and love will demand that we serve them willingly. It is the only real choice we make in life, not to love the few we know which in turn will make us unable to bear the moreness of still more others; or to embrace everyone possible, ever expanding towards infinity.

I wish I'd known what to say at the party to the statement, "Too many." but I'm grateful for the opportunity to reflect and discern the answer:
"No such thing."

P.S. For the record, not expecting. Just in case anyone was reading between the lines and getting either excited or nervous.


jill said...

That's a little pet peeve of mine, that so often people who are taken aback by large families came from one themselves. Not only have they forgotten the recent past, when lots of kids was common, but they seem to have forgotten their own personal history.

Carol said...

We can never have too many blessings.

Mary said...

I only have 3, but when we lived in Ga., we were asked if we know what causes it. Then, when we moved to SC, we were asked when we were going to have more. Being one of 10 children, I'm amazed when people have a big family! It was such a good time, but I know that I don't have the patience for it!

Adrienne said...

Next time someone says that tell them you had to have more because they didn't have enough.

Angela M. said...

I have two and now it's too late to add more. My pregnant step-daughter announced her husband told her they are stopping at two...yet he was Baby #3 born about 10 years after #1 and #2. So sad - what if his mother had said no?

MightyMom said...

when I had my 3rd in 39 months folks looked at me like that too. when asked "don't you know what causes that yet?" my response was "well, we THINK so...but just in case we're practicing A LOT!"

which would usually weird out the person enough to shut them up.

Here's my deal on those types of comments. and forgive me if I get graphic here. asking a person about their use of birth control is asking about THEIR SEX LIFE. People for some reason haven't figured out how personal a question that is. I keep hoping for the guts, when I hear that question asked, to question the asker if they want to know what POSITION the couple in question has sex in too?? I mean, really, it's the SAME THING.


MightyMom said...

uh, and for the record....

the word verification on that last comment...

HONEST, Sherry, I'm not making this up.



JimmyV said...

Support from out here. I tire of those statements too, and how often they come from someone who was beyond number 2. Thanks for the reminder to keep loving those near and dear, as well as those who insult us.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!