How Can You Afford Eight Kids??
Sometimes we venture out with a few of our children; and sometimes we’re courageous enough to venture out with all eight. When we do go out all together, we get mixed reactions. (The reactions were definitely more dramatic when most of the kids were younger; however, even now, they’re still amusing!) It really doesn’t bother me – in fact, my husband and I have a little laugh about our observations at the end of the day. It makes for light-hearted entertainment.
More often than not, the reactions are positive: “Wow! Beautiful family!”; “You don’t see that too often nowadays!”; “What a blessing!”; “I come from a big family, too!”
However, sometimes, the reactions are, let’s just say, worth shrugging off or ignoring completely. Once, an older man, deliberately looked into our double stroller in the frozen food aisle of Walmart and shook his head in annoyance as he walked off…ummm…that was when we only had 4! Can you imagine if he met us now, with 8?!? Another time, in an IKEA elevator, a “young” grandma looked at us and straight out said: “Ohhh…I pity you!” — right in front of my 4 daughters! Little did she know that my 2 boys were waiting for us upstairs in the IKEA cafe – haha!
When we do get some negativity thrown our way, I usually say a little prayer for that person (perhaps they’re the unhappy ones, or maybe Walmart was simply sold out of the guy’s favourite frozen snack). I then remind myself that they don’t mean to be intentionally rude – their reaction may be due to a variety of thought processes that the modern world seems to push from all angles, such as: a) don’t we know that there are “resources” to prevent this crazy number of children?; b) do we have any idea of the massive carbon footprint we’re leaving? (and boy, we must be leaving a ton of footprints!); or c) how can we afford these kids – don’t we know how much is needed to raise even one child nowadays??
I personally think it’s the latter question that people grapple with most; and I honestly don’t blame them! Not everyone is Catholic, so they don’t see the reality that we have been given the grace to see. I mean, if I were an outsider looking in and saw our family of 8 kids, I’d probably react the same way – shake my head and say: “I feel sorry for them.” Who knows? But as Catholics, we know that our happiness is directly correlated to how much we surrender our will to God’s. And our trust in Him allows us to accept what He sends us with a peace and joy like no other.
A priest once said that we don’t have to go preaching from the rooftops – we must lead by example. He said that every time big Catholic families step out in public with their many kids, it is itself a testament to our Faith. He encouraged us to set aside our human respect and always have God before us; because really, that’s all that matters.
So, when people ask us: “How do you afford 8 kids?”…our answer is this:
It comes down to the choices we make. For example, on top of loving hand-me-downs, having spaghetti as a household staple, and being married to the self-proclaimed price-matching king, we choose to do local getaways and day trips as opposed to the annual or biannual trips to the “must-go-to” tropics, some cruise, or Disneyland (or Disney World – can never remember which is where!). Even our weekend boys’ baseball tournaments provide perfect opportunities for outdoor fun around splash pads, parks, and simply being together, enjoying the canopy and picnic blankets while watching a good ol’ game of ball!
Last summer, we took the family to Niagara Falls (last time we went was 7 years and 3 kids ago) – the Canadian side, of course, because everyone knows it’s better!
Up until now, the few things the kids knew about the Falls was that it was a huge waterfall and there’s a casino (thanks to the grandparents on both sides for that one!). So, before walking the Falls, we stopped by a museum to educate them on the rich history of Niagara Falls, especially the significance of Lundy’s Lane and the War of 1812, among other very interesting facts!
I’ve been to the Falls more than a dozen times in my life, and even I had no idea about half the things we learned that day!!
Do we worry that we’re not providing enough opportunity for our children to explore the world or experience life? Well, when our day trip to Niagara came to an end and I was tucking the kids into bed, each one from our oldest to our youngest made sure to tell us how much fun they had; however, when Samantha wrapped her arms around me and whispered: “Thank you, Mom, for the most perfect day!”…that reaffirmed the answer to me. ❤
[P.S. When we asked Erica (our 4 year old) what her favourite part of the trip to Niagara Falls was, she answered: “Swiss Chalet!” Yes — another choice we make — we make sure the kids know that restaurants are always a luxury!]