Sam's Club. Weekday afternoon. One Mom (or maybe a good looking teenage boy) pushing a big blue cart in which sits a bubbly little 2 year old blondie and a HUGE box of paper towels, 3 gallons of milk, 10 lbs of carrots and more. Walking along side the cart are two other handsome boys darting off this way and that for items their Mother requests. Skipping along the other side of the cart is a gal of about 6 who is singing and getting into other shopper's paths from time to time. The Mom would REALLY like to be sipping a cherry Coke, but she has given those up for Lent and, Lord willing longer, so she isn't.
Can you see it?
Here's what happens next.
The happy family will be waiting by the milk cooler for another fellow Sam's shopper to make her decision...skim or 1%? Hmmmm... As the shopper turns around, she notices the waiting family. "Wow!" she says, "You have your hands full! How many kids do you have?"
The Mom replies, "Only five." At this point the shopper opens her mouth to respond and then closes it and smiles. She might say, "Oh, that is great!" or something like that, but usually not.
A tall lithe woman, who might be nearing 40, but looks like she is only pushing 35, is waiting in a chair at the Dr. office. In the seats next to her, two little gals are quietly looking at magazines. (OK, let's be real. The 2 year is really walking around and talking to EVERYONE in the waiting area.) After having a long conversation with the 2 year old, a man a few seats over says to the woman, "She must keep you pretty busy, but I see that you have some help," and he points to the older girl.
Before the woman responds, the older sister pipes up, "We've got some more help at home!" The man looks at the woman and inquires how many children she has. "Only five," the woman replies. "Oh," he replies, "you do have help," and smiles. What else could he say?
This is how people respond to me (did you get that I was the tall, thin young looking Mom?) now when I tell them how many kids with which we've been blessed. It was not always this way. I've learned a few things over the years. The word ONLY is very powerful.
In the above scenes, if I would have responded to the questions by simply saying, "We have five children." Those people asking the questions would say something like, "Oh my goodness! How do you handle all of that? I could never have that many kids! Do you ever have any time to do anything for you? Did you mean to have that many? etc. etc. etc" These are all reactions I've gotten over the years. I love the last one especially - I had to hold my tongue because several rather racy retorts flashed through my brain when I heard it.
Using the word "only" in front of my reply ends all such comments. If I, the Mom, don't think five kids too many and can use the word "only" in describing their number, how could anyone else think differently? And we don't think five is too many, we can't imagine it any other way! Five children, five huge blessings from God.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!