"The study also concluded that the more children a married couple has, the greater the life satisfaction, especially for women. "That was on my mind when I came across this essay by Elisabeth Eliot over on Barbara Curtis's Mommy Life Blog.:
Emphasis here mine.
"Too Many Children?
When I learned that my daughter Valerie was expecting number five, my insides tied themselves in knots.
Val and Walt were both very peaceful about it, willing to receive this child as they had received the others--as a gift from the Lord, remembering His words, 'Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me' (Luke 9:48, NIV). But my imagination ran to the future and its seeming impossibilities--'Poor dear Val. She has her hands more than full. What will she do with five?' Before she was married Valerie had told me that she hoped the Lord would give her six. I had smiled to myself, thinking she would probably revise that number after the first three or four. Practical considerations rose like thunderclouds in my mind. Money. Another room to be built onto the house. Homeschooling (Valerie was teaching two already!) How would the new child receive the attention he needed? Etc., etc.
Then I began to look at the advantages. I was one of six children myself, and loved growing up in a big family. Children learn early what it means to help and to share, to take responsibility and to make sacrifices, to give place to others, to cooperate and deny themselves. Why all this turmoil in my soul? Well, because I loved my child! She was tired! Her hands were full! Maybe later, maybe when the others were old enough to help more, maybe... O Lord!
I tried to talk to God about it. Breakfast time came, we ate, washed dishes, school began in the children's schoolroom, and I went to my room, my heart churning. What does one do?
I write this because troubled young women have come to me not understanding their mothers' reactions to the news of another baby. Was it resentment? Did they not love the grandchildren they had? Why would they not want more? Was it nothing but a meddle-some yen to run their children's lives? Was it a revelation of a worse attitude--an unwillingness to let God be God?
It was this last question that I knew I must wrestle with as I knelt in the bedroom. Most things that trouble us deeply come down to that. I had to bring each of my wrong responses definitely and specifically to God, lay them honestly before Him (He already knew exactly what I was thinking), confess my pride and silliness, and then, just as definitely accept His sovereign and loving will for Valerie, for her family, and for me as the granny. Only God knew how many countless others, even in future generations, He had in mind in bringing this particular child into the Shepard family. He was granting this family the privilege of offering sacrifices for Him, participating in His grand designs. YES, LORD. Your will is my conscious choice. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.
Even though the feelings don't evaporate at once, they have been surrendered, and the Lord knows what to do with them. Mine had to be surrendered over and over again, but He took them, and over the next few days He transformed them. And when the news of Number Six was broken to me two years later, I was able to say Thank You, Lord, and to add that tiny unknown one to my prayer list.
Evangeline Mary, born November 9, 1988, was lovingly welcomed by all."
It all struck such a cord with me because I remembered how my own mother was so dismayed every time she found out my sister or I was pregnant. And she too said it was because she dreaded the difficulties that we would have to endure. Yet she too loved every single one of her grandchildren dearly and I know that they gave her some measure of comfort in her last days.
Also, in thinking it through, I remember feeling so surrounded by love and a sense of belonging surrounded by my children, my sister and her children at mom's funeral. We were family. We were a small "clan." We belonged to each other and for each other even though our matriarch had just died. And I had a sense of pride and satisfaction as well as love and and belonging with this family. Maybe, as Ms. Eliot implies, the large family benefits not only the parents, but the whole branch of the family tree - indeed the entire tree and the community it's planted in! Why do we doubt it?