We became friends with a few large families in our new church home, but I still felt like only The Very Patient or Those With Money To Burn were actually capable of pulling off more than an average number of children.
As time passed, though, I began to see that they were constantly working to grow in patience and gentleness and love. Bad days came to their houses, too, and each mother found her way through those trials, hopefully coming out a little stronger in the virtues I was beginning to realize must be cultivated.
You see, I used to stare off into space and longingly wish I had been one of those lucky people who had been blessed with the gift of patience. Slowly, I was beginning to realize that patience can actually be practiced. And we can even grow in patience.
I was learning all of this from my friends as I watched them deal with their seven or eight children. I could see that, at times, it was difficult for them to remain patient (or gentle or kind), but they put effort into it and they succeeded by sheer determination.
They also spoke often about relying on strength from God to make it through each day.
It was dawning on me that they were being refined through the trials of motherhood.
So this new understanding meant that I didn't need to be perfectly patient or even perfect in any way to mother a large family.
Hmmmm... interesting, but having more children would never work for us because it just so happened that we were so broke we couldn't even afford to pay attention.
We lived, with our three children, in a very small house of 1040 square feet. We could barely fit into the kitchen together at meal times and my husband was working a job that narrowly covered our daily expenses.
That was about the time I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with number four.
To be continued.