I’m having a bad day today. I’m just so tired! I’m so tired of working—there is always something that needs to be done and dad is never satisfied. I’m tired of being overwhelmed with everything. I’m tired of washing dishes every night, I wish that the house would stay clean for 2-3 days—the kids are always cutting up paper, getting out toys, splashing water all over the bathroom sink, getting mud and sand all over the bathroom floor. I’m tired of doing laundry—there are mountains of it daily and I am tired of putting clothes away. I’m tired of people not doing their jobs; I’m tired of my brother’s arguing and endless supply of unnecessary words (though he is sweet a lot and has been a lot today), my sister’s constant fits and defiance and screaming, I’m tired of getting mad at my brothers and sisters, I wish I were perfect. I absolutely abhor the thought that every idle word will be judged . . . lately I have been doing some self-analyzing, or examining—I’m trash . . . I’m sick of disappointing God.
Admittedly, my perspective is from one who became a little mother—a child compelled to adopt care-taking roles earlier than most, earlier than healthy. But the Quiverfull life doesn't only affect the oldest daughters. Younger siblings experienced the "bossiness" of my perfectionist self, my efforts to "help", to keep things efficient and under control, efforts to be obedient and pleasing to God and parents, and the pressure of trying to live up to expectations both I and others laid upon me.
Just as I received the frustrations of petulant brothers and sisters screaming "You're not the mom!" and "You're not the boss of me!", they felt the pressure of having not only a dad and mom telling them what to do, how to behave, what to think, and how they should perform, but an older sister who attempted awkwardly to carry out mom and dad's wishes within the family.
As numbers swelled with mommy's tummy, more and more household details rested on my shoulders. I am filled with sadness that instead of mom, many times my dear brothers and sisters suffered a surrogate "mom" who was often more frazzled and worn out than our real one. And while my siblings never understood the angst inside, the internal war, nor heard my nightly secret sobs to "help me be loving and sweet and kind", they did hear the demands, the rages, the lack of sleep, the short-temper. They saw a red face, harsh mouth. They witnessed the public admonitions to be patient and to pray about my attitude. What influence did it have—on both of us? They did not deserve this injustice. The younger children needed quality parental attention just as much as the older ones. Their needs were just as important as mine.
In a Quiverfull family, everyone is affected, for good, for bad; in healthy ways, and unhealthy. Mothers devote body and womb to pregnancy and the effects of hormones while cultivating new life. Fathers receive new life to provide for, to raise, to hold before God. And the children born into this environment bring unique strengths, needs, desires, challenges, and personalities, all precious in the eyes of God.
Blessings, yes. But serious blessings.
We all sacrifice something. Those who adopt a Quiverfull life have the privilege of choice—cognizant awareness and deliberate, intentional selection of lifestyle based upon conviction.
I beseech Quiverfull parents to humbly remember that your children do not have the freedom to choose, as you have. Your children are unable to seek God's will, count the costs, and go forth with full knowledge of what lies ahead. Please have grace and mercy upon these little ones, who often sacrifice quality time with mom and dad because other needs arise, who often become hands and feet and shoulders while caring for others; who sometimes struggle in silence, trying to reconcile the true nature of God with what they see and hear on a daily basis. Ones who perpetuate the pressure they feel, and react to the demands presented them; ones perhaps never completely understood—children created with individuality, in Imago Dei.
I beg parents to put forth the effort to know your children individually, for just as God has blessed you, He has made them, singularly and unparalleled, with each soul relating to others, themselves, to God, and the world, in special, precious ways. It is destructive to blanket an entire family with the same parenting formula. Each child needs parenting based upon the uniqueness God has gifted them; it takes time, energy, and discipline—a challenge, even in smaller families—to attend offspring with such tenderness, but such is the responsibility of mothers and fathers.
If you are firstborn, do you feel as though you've grown up too fast and lost your childhood? Are you burdened by unrelenting expectations? Are your parents too busy with the younger children to spend quality time with you? Do you feel as though they call you a "blessing" because of what you do, not who you are? Do you feel perpetually exhausted?
If you are middleborn, do you feel overlooked and overshadowed? Are you old enough to have a lot of chores, but too young to have certain privileges? Do you feel unnoticed, unimportant, insignificant? Too old to crawl into your mother's lap or enjoy playtime, but too young to do anything fun?
If you are last, do you feel that you have five other mothers telling you what to do? Do you feel you never have a break and that everyone tattles on you? Do you feel that you never do anything right, that you are compared to successful older sisters? Does it seem you pay for your older siblings' mistakes? Did their problems cause your parents to exercise more strictness or control?
These are mere samplings of the emotions and struggles experienced by daughters within a quiverfull household, for if there is imbalance within a family, all daughters will have pain. But I believe that as quiverfull daughters, our place in the family is distinctly chosen by God. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our futures, hurts and sorrows. Whether we are first, middle, or last within our family, our lives bear His handprint, His heartprint.
While we often feel lost in the shuffle, He who sees a sparrow fall knows your deepest dreams, hopes, and fears; He holds gently secret tears that water your pillow at night. Your exhaustion, performance, and service, the demands, pressure, and austerity you feel does not miss His eye. He knows your cries, your loneliness, your longing to matter to those you love, to feel important in their eyes, to feel special. To feel that you are a blessing.
God designed us to seek Him face to face, to discover His will for our lives. As children of the Perfect Father, sisters to a billion souls, we can rest, knowing He loves us individually; but until we truly believe in His love for us, we will experience difficulty understanding how we bear significance to God Himself—and wounds remain unhealed.
Dear Heavenly Father, You know the thoughts and dreams You have of us, to give us a hope and a future. You see the pain lurking with the hearts of quiverfull daughters; you see the pressures they feel and the expectations placed on them by others, in Your name. I beg You to make Yourself known to these precious sisters, to make Your love known in deep, significant ways, so that they see how truly You adore them and grieve for the hurts and sorrows that they feel. You created them, just as they are, and yet so many feel discouraged and selfish for having feelings, dreams, desires, and needs in the first place. Comfort these dear women, and lead them on a journey straight to You. Heal and restore them, I ask You; give them strength and wisdom as they go forth in life. Be glorified in them, dear Lord, and may their families see You in their daughter's life. Thank You that You love us and want to be known by us. In Jesus Name, Amen.