Friday, November 2, 2012

They Just Don't Understand

It is my pleasure to welcome Patti Maguire Armstrong to "Catholic Moms Talk" today. Today Patti speaks about the blessing of families.  

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband Mark have ten children. Patti was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's "Amazing Grace" series, published over 600 articles, appeared on EWTN Bookmark program, EWTN LIve, and Catholic TV as well as radio stations across the country. She is also winner of the 2011 Reader's Choice award.  Her latest books Big Hearted, (Scepter Publishers) and children’s book, “Dear God I don’t get it” (Liguori Publications)  will be released in Spring 2013. Visit Patti’s blog, Twitter or Facebook at author page  GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth  Homeschool Heart and Big Hearted Families

They Just Don't Understand

I once did not understand. So now, instead of getting upset when others don’t understand, I see it as an opportunity to inform or at least to pray for them.

When I came to understand Catholic teaching on love and marriage, my heart grew to include the unborn children I once thought I did not want.  Knowledge demanded action since my husband and I had taken permanent measures to end the creation of life in our family.  One reversal and four more souls later, our clan of ten, grew to twelve when we later accepted two orphans from Kenya. Love grows; pure and simple. But some just don’t know that.

Here are my thoughts to some of the people in my life over the years, who just didn’t understand.

To the guy I know from church who pointed to my pregnant belly and said, “Tell Mark the tax credits aren’t that good.” You just don’t understand what real treasure is.

To the man at the basketball game who shouted to me as I walked down the bleachers carrying our youngest one, “Is that the last one?”  Really? I may have smiled but I did not enjoy all the people in the lower bleachers looking up at me and waiting for my answer. I nicely told you that’s not a question you should ask people. If I wasn’t navigating my way down bleachers with a baby in arms, I might have said much more.

To the girl at Papa Murphy’s Pizza who loudly asked: “Are you having any more?” You certainly provided a teaching moment with all eyes in that small store on me, waiting for the answer.  Some things only God knows, especially the things we surrender to him.

To the man in the airplane who turned and angrily glared at me years ago when the baby kept crying.  I was traveling alone with three children; did you think I was pinching the baby to make him cry?  Your dislike of children was clear, but trust me, I was more stressed than you. What a blessing when we de-planed and a lady came over to tell me she had prayed for me. Thank you to everyone who quickly offered me help.  Sir, your heart is small and your anger quick. I said a prayer for you.

To the man who told me we are not Mormons:  No, I’m Catholic and so are you. Do you know what that means?

To any of the well dressed women in malls or grocery stores who were tempted to look down on me in my sweatpants with my large brood:  Don’t feel sorry for me, these sweat pants are comfortable, and the sneakers are too. I don’t want what you have but do you know what I have? 

To my son’s friend who commented:  “Imagine how rich your parents would be if they didn’t have so many kids.”  Do you know how rich we really are? There is nothing on the face of the earth that my son would trade in place of his siblings.

To another son’s friend who meant it as a compliment when he said, “I respect your parents for having so many kids and not taking welfare.”  I know you meant well but perhaps you confuse openness to life with dysfunction. Not that it’s wrong for people to need help sometimes, but your intended compliment showed ignorance on what it means to accept the blessing of a large family.

To all those who have made comments that they won’t be having anymore because they’ve gotten “fixed” or “taken care of it.”  Nothing was broken before. Surgically altering a healthy body to prevent natural functioning is not “taking care” of that body.  No judgment from me, however. Remember, I too once did not understand.

For those who made comments about how old my husband and I were with our last one, (45 and 44). We are including eternity in our timeline, are you?

To the woman at the fast food restaurant who thought I ran a day care. I do care for mine every day.  You were surprised when I said they were all mine but I loved the look on your face when I told you there were still four more. Thanks for the laugh.

To the nursing student who asked me how I can stand all the drudgery? Won’t you be cleaning bedpans and other messes and taking care of needy people?  The difference in what you will do and what I do is that I am taking care of the people I love most in the world.  I prefer the word blessing to drudgery.

To anyone who thought we were adding to an already overpopulated world.  Inform yourselves.  Most of the world is suffering—really suffering—from a population decline.  People are our greatest natural resources. Get out of town sometime and notice that most of the world is still empty. Or just remind yourself that God is all knowing. He would not have made a world too small to contain us nor make a heart too small to receive all that he has to give.
~Patti Maguire Armstrong


  1. I enjoyed post; thank you. But I never thought of the last lines about God not making the world or hearts big enough. Great reflection I'm going to remember! Thanks!

  2. God bless you for your untiring charity. Your family is a challenge to the culture of death, and you are good enough to use the ignorant remarks as teachable moments thus furthering the culture of life.

  3. Thank you for this post, it was very encouraging as we are expecting #7.

  4. I love to educate and encourage others about the benefits of having a large family. Most of the time, a person's rude remark, is just curiosity that needs a positive response to help them understand too. :)
    I think only once have I not been able to change someone's view at the time of talking to them. Hopefully, I planted a seed that grew over time.

  5. Try not to be so hard on these people who make remarks like this.

    Remember, there but for the Grace of God goes yourself. Had it not been for His Grace, you may be thinking the same!!


  6. I know that many people dread ignorant or unkind remarks. I actually got to the point that I wished people would make them more often. It was a chance to educate and inspire. One of the favorite comebacks my husband and I had was, "They are the only thing you can take with you to heaven." That one always got people to pause and say, "Yeah, you are right." I've come to understand that every argument is not going to be won, but engaging in the debate plants seeds. Some of our most influential Catholic converts were once closed minded to Catholic teaching. I always pray to the Holy Spirit when challenged about anything, then I continue to pray for that person. Bringing in the big guns--the Holy Spirit-- is our most powerful weapon.
    Any time I feel left out or discriminated against, I give praise to God knowing that the Beatitude speaks well of the situation, "How blessed are you whenever people insult you, persecute you, and say all sorts of evil things against you falsely because of me!" Matt 5:11