Hello! Yes, I’m talking to you. The one giving us strange looks as we travel like a caravan through the department store. Yes, I know that my kids are sometimes loud and unruly. Yes, I know that my 2 year-old is rambunctious. Yes, my 6 year-old is very emotional. Yes, they are a handful, and when you see my baldness, they are probably the reason my hair won’t grow back. Thing is, I could really do without your staring and whispers. Your looks, frankly, they annoy me. It feels disrespectful to my family that you shake your head when you see us trying to maintain our tenuous grip on order. You don’t know us. You don’t know our story, so please stop judging us.
What I see going on is quite simple. Society really judges two types of situations. If you would check out our community blog, you would see that a good friend of mine blogged very recently about the issues she and her husband face as childless, married people. As I read her post, I could identify with some of the same kinds of struggles. It doesn’t really help that I see your eyes every time we are in J.C.Penney, or WalMart. (Don’t even get me started about WalMart). I mean, we aren’t the Dugars. We aren’t rich. I don’t really even think we’re middle class either, with the way the economy is setting itself up these days, but neither are we asking for pity. We aren’t a family looking to work the system. It doesn’t work for us. All we want is your earnest smiles.
Not that you deserve an explanation, but I feel well within my rights to give you one anyway. Yes, my wife and I have 4 beautiful children. Their names are Kaila, Caleb, Canaan, and Zyla. They are 10, 6, 2, and almost 4 months old. From where we sit, we can’t even begin to imagine our lives without the specific joy that they bring us. We often wonder what we would do without them. We have a hard time imagining life before each of them was born. As our family has gotten bigger, we have heard the whispers of doubt. Shoot, I was a huge doubter, and if you catch me on the wrong day, I’m not quite an example of the faith-having father. I worry if we will have enough money to fund Christmas. I worry about making money stretch when we have 2, yes…TWO, kids in childcare that we pay for every week.
So please, withhold judgement. You weren’t there when my wife had a vision in the middle of the night in which 4 baby angels were at the foot of our bed. You weren’t there to watch me try to wake her sitting, pointing form up, only to have no effect. You weren’t there when God told my wife that we would have our first child by the end of the year 2004. You weren’t there to watch our tears when Kaila burst into the world. You also were not there when Caleb was born 2 weeks before I was given a severance package from my employer. Nor were you there when we despaired when we found out that Canaan was born, because we literally had NO money to our name, and we could not see how any of this would work out. You weren’t there for the health scares and fervent praying.
You weren’t there when we prayed and asked God if we were done at 3, only to be reminded how much of a sense of humor He has, by following that up with a positive pregnancy test. You weren’t there when Caleb came home saying that we should name the baby Zyla, even before we knew it was a girl. You weren’t in the room to see our elation to find out that Zyla actually means “princess”.
So you see, it’s not that we wanted 4 children and this family full of big noises and even larger hugs and kisses. God had a dream for us, and evidently He trusts us with 4 of His most beautiful angels. We have the duty to raise them, to speak into their futures, to point them to Him, to teach them how to love everyone, even those who give them strange looks. So when you see us struggling in public with strollers and kicked shoes, and kids getting sick, and dirty diapers, and one child who loves running around public spaces, instead of giving us sympathetic looks, well…if you can’t smile at the beauty of the chaos,
….just keep walking.
Justin, LaTricia, Kaila, Caleb, Canaan, and Zyla