“Are they all yours?” the woman in the checkout line asked.
“Yes, they’re all mine!” I said as I lugged two milk jugs onto the conveyor belt.
“Don’t you think that’s…irresponsible?” she asked. I noticed my older two children looking up at her, soaking in every word. “I mean, don’t you care?”
“Of course I do,” I said carefully, trapping other words that threatened to spill out along with those four. I barred them in with a smile I didn’t feel. “I care about lots of things.”
“That’s not what I meant,” she huffed. “Don’t you care about the environment? Don’t you care about the fact that you’re using more than your share of resources?”
It was a question flavored with accusation. I had heard it more than once since the twins were born from people withered by greed and a sneaky kind of selfishness that passes itself off as responsibility.
I was a woman with a big family, and big families are not in vogue anymore, especially in this very progressive part of the country. She felt it her obligation to tell me so.
I ruffled my son’s hair and didn’t say anything. I wanted to tell her the story and share a little bit of the justification for why I had five children in the first place, starting with the fact that it was not my idea.
But mostly, I wanted to tell her that my children are not a strain on this world. They are not a hindrance, a plague, or a pest. They do not make it a habit to eat more than their share of the pie.
My children are little stewards, little princes and princesses of a mighty kingdom. They are going to grow up to be kind caretakers of this land and humble servants to its people because that is what they were made to be. They were chosen for that role, along with all the King’s children, not by the will of man, but by the kind intention of the Creator-God who made my children to rule over His creation with the same kind of kindness with which He rules over us.
As my children learn to love their King, the more they will be able to perceive the hand of God in it. They will understand that this world and all the life it contains is worthy of protection because God made it and declared it so.
God’s face is all over this world, and the King’s children are the few who will know it when they see it.
I looked at the woman in line behind me and I realized that her kingdom was crumbling. She did not know how not to die, how not to burn out and be used up and wasted like the earth she thought we threatened. She grasped and clawed for a life she could not keep and clung to an earth that could not save.
“What do you think would happen if everyone had kids like you?” she demanded.
I smiled. This was a question I could answer. “I think, if everyone had kids like me, the world would be a better place. Because I am doing my very best to make sure that my children are exactly the kind of people this world needs more of.”
The woman stared at me.
I leaned in a little and said, “I’m giving you, and this earth, the very best I have.”
On this beautiful day, I am thankful for the ability to raise up caretakers of God’s great earth, little Adams and little Eves who will care for this kingdom long after I am gone. I am thankful that in leaving this earth to my children, I am leaving it better than I found it.