Your house must be a zoo!
At the surface this statement is innocuous. Indeed, a house with 12 little feet can certainly be a bit lively at times. However, I recently saw something more subtle, and probably unconscious in the disparagement our society continues placing on large families. By mere merit of belonging to a large family, many erroneously buy into the belief that children cease to exist as independent beings. This could not be further from the truth. Please indulge me while I demonstrate a possible heart attitude at the foundation of this all too popular off-the-cuff remark.
A zoo is, by definition, a place full of wild animals meant to be enjoyed from a distance, but never embraced as a home for humans. It contains bars, fences, and gates to keep contact to a minimum. The architect's design of any zoo has one primary focal point - to give visitors a seamless window into another's habitat without actually endangering the viewer of inclusion in the scene. And at the bottom of it all there is the dehumanizing effect of equating the pitter-patter of children's fee to the dull thud of hooves, the eerie scraping of talons, and the wily tread of paws.
My little feet are not a pack of wolves, nor a herd of elephants, neither are they a flock of geese. This is, I assume, perfectly evident to you. I also assume it is perfectly evident to our culture, at large. What I do not believe is so evident are the individual lives attached to each set of little feet, making them not merely members of the "Mob", but perfectly ordained, indispensable people with a unique purpose as different from any other human on this planet as you.
Each person has an identifiable print to their toes, similar to their fingers. There are no two sets identically alike, even in twins! My children do not look around them and think, "Now who are all these crazy people with whom I share a house." We don't memorize stripe patterns, or tag them for recognition by researchers. I doubt you look at the children in your home and wonder how you will ever keep them straight. Do you forget their names? How about their favorite story, or worst fear? Do you keep blanking on what they look like when you try to pick them out in a crowd? These are certainly ridiculous questions. But in bringing the subtle to the obvious I think the point can be made that often those questions are wondered about me, and my family. How can I keep them all straight? How can I remember all their food aversions? How do I manage all those kids? The answer is rather simple: the same way a mom with one manages her child. I consider myself the mother of six only children.
I have Hannah, an only child, who is bright and competent. She is a natural leader, and takes responsibility very seriously.
I have Bethany, an only child, who loves art and beauty. She gives generously from her heart in soft, gentle ways.
I have Caleb, an only child, whose robust energy stops only for bedtime. He genuinely encourages with uplifting words of affirmation, and recognizes the importance of verbal communication.
I have Leah, an only child, who finds the hilarity in nearly any situation. Her use of expressionism bears the mark of a master.
I have Mary, an only child, who never doubts her own mind. The confidence, and comfort of her own skin shines through an independent personality.
I have Josiah, an only child, whose smile is readily given to anyone. He is equally at home in the comfort of my arms, or wandering the house oblivious to anyone.
I have my only child due in April. What a wonder of delight their little feet will be when I first lay eyes on them.
These children are not an indescribable horde of wild beasts. They are not merely a noise level to be endured for a few moments, and them ignored. When someone asks me how I have the patience for them all, while they stand at my hip, it is essentially asking me why I would want to put myself through "such an ordeal" for no justifiable end. I have a beautifully justifiable end: little feet.