As a mom of four boys (and only 4 boys), I’m accustomed to rude and inconsiderate comments. Comments range from, “Wow! You must be busy” to “Bet you wish you had a girl” to “What’s wrong with your husband’s sperm?” I kid you not.
So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was yesterday when our new pastor’s wife, upon learning I have four boys said, “You are rich!”
You. are. RICH.
No one has ever commented so positively on my larger-than-average family of boys. And let me tell you: what a difference it made! Until she reacted positively, I didn’t fully understand the impact of those negative comments. I didn’t fully realize that I walked away feeling defeated and apologetic and defensive. And I didn’t fully realize how fully and completely our culture has internalized the idea of kids as burdens.
Listen, I know that raising kids is hard work. I know that there are a lot of non-glamorous moments to parenting. Having kids definitely impacts your life. But in American culture right now, having kids is viewed as more of a liability than an asset. We focus on the psychological and career and social and financial costs of parenting, while barely acknowledging the moments of personal growth, satisfaction and joy. Here in America, more often than not, I fear, we view our kids as entities that drag us down, instead of as unique individuals who enlarge and enhance our lives.
My pastor and his wife share a Korean heritage, and it’s likely that their cultural background played into her comment. As a mom of boys, though, I don’t care why she said what she said.I just know that in that moment, I was pleasantly shocked.
You are rich.
I walked away feeling joyful. For the first time — ever! — someone, upon meeting me and my boys, recognized them and called them out as a blessing. For the first time ever, someone I just met got it. This woman understood that my boys are a wonderful addition to my life. I didn’t have to explain or attempt to explain that I like my family of boys, that I’m happy with my boys, and that no, we weren’t trying for a girl.
Not only that, but she gave me a phrase — you are rich — to hang on to when the realities of parenting four boys gets me down. Now, when I’m feeling stressed or discouraged or overwhelmed by the task of raising these children, I can repeat her phrase — you are rich — like a mantra through my head.
You are rich. Isn’t that so much better than, “All boys?”