I just finished watching Season 2 of the TLC show "18 Kids and Counting" (and it's actually 19 now, incidentally.) I can't get enough of the Duggar family. I love them! I wish I could move into their house and just watch them at work because I am that impressed and inspired. That is how a family can be. And I'm not just talking about sheer numbers. Though I'll get to that.
The love, commitment, and partnership between Michelle and Jim Bob is almost other-worldly. They really are one in their marriage, and one with God, and I think it is precisely because of that that so many other aspects of their family have been blessed. Michelle adores her husband. She will never say anything unkind or critical about him, even to tease---like when the cameraman tried to get her to tease Jim Bob about his fanatical use of hairspray. It was so cute, she just couldn't say a negative thing! And to Jim Bob, Michelle is his queen. He loves and defends her so tenderly. She has given him a kingdom and has dedicated her life to nurturing and raising all those children up to God by his side. Each has a separate and defined God-given role: Jim Bob to provide (and that he has, to be sure--he's one hard working man), and Michelle to nurture and raise the children (talk about magnifying a calling!), but each also completely supports the other. Jim Bob is the spiritual leader in the home, teaching the children from the Bible and working side by side with each of them as they develop servant's hearts.
And the children? Sure, I've read all the critical forums online. But I find their children refreshing. All of them. They're beautiful, for one thing. Well-groomed, nicely dressed. Well-mannered, well-spoken, and kind. So kind to each other! And I don't think it's just because they're on camera, because I watched "Jon and Kate Plus 8" too and there was plenty of bickering going on, between adults and children. I think adults can fake things for a camera. I don't think kids are quite that able. But these children have been so well raised and so well taught. Their lives center around the family: working together, learning together, praying together, and helping one another. It sounds old-fashioned and impossibly difficult to replicate in this day and age, and yet somehow, the Duggars have done it.
I love their house. It's so wonderfully huge and organized and homey and beautiful and filled to the brim. I love that they built it themselves, paid for it with cash, and work to maintain it together. I love their food pantry (oh, to dream!) and their restaurant-style kitchen (they have a "regular" kitchen too) and their laundry center, and the dorm-style rooms for the girls and boys.
I love that the children are homeschooled. I love that they all play two instruments (and well, too). I love that they each have a "buddy" and that their little buddies look up to them. I love that it takes all of them working together for such a family to shine--Michelle has done a marvelous job training her daughters to mother (and cook and clean and sew . . .) I love that Michelle and Jim Bob praise their children in public and correct them in private. I love that Michelle decided long ago not to raise her voice. I love how sweetly she talks to each of her children, and while she certainly does not have enough time to lavish hours on each one individually, her love is so tangible that those children most certainly feel constantly bathed in it.
I love that they teach their children Christian values. I love that they have made decisions about media, modesty, and morality that are certainly not easy in today's world, but are most definitely possible--and even ideal--and that they go out of their way to find options that are edifying and uplifting to support their family values. I love that the boys are taught to honor and revere women, and to develop self-discipline as part of manhood. I love that the girls delight in femininity.
And yes, I love that they keep having babies. There, I said it.
That family is a well-oiled, Godly machine, and I think everyone who criticizes their family size should just shut up and take a look at their own. Because it isn't size that matters, it's everything else, and I think they've just about perfected everything else and any child born into that amount of love is one lucky little child. Do I think every family should have 19 children? Of course not, silly. But I love that this family did! And I think that the Biblical values that they live their lives by are true. Those children are truly jewels in the crowns of Jim Bob and Michelle's lives. Nothing about the Duggars is irresponsible, if you ask me. And Michelle is healthier and has more energy than any woman I know, and she is a shining example to me of what motherhood can be and how much power can be bestowed upon a woman who puts God first in her life and seeks His will in her family. I think she's beautiful, and I think she's beautiful because she spends her time and her energies in what really matters.
I secretly wish I could live a life like that, welcoming baby after baby, loving on my little ones, delighting in my bigger ones, feeling cherished and safe with my husband. Building a legacy.
Except, of course, I would have a garden.