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Family growth

Originally Appeared in : 9920-9/26/19

Why are we turning into KFC?” Jesse asked curiously from a few rows back in the passenger van.

 

“Mommy didn’t get to eat lunch...and she said KFC mashed potatoes sounded good,” I replied with a wince, hoping not to raise suspicions. (Keep in mind we hadn’t eaten at KFC as a family in maybe three years.)

 

The detour had delayed the conclusion of our makeshift pizza delivery service—an attempt to make good on a Taekwondo fundraiser—but I wasn’t about to return home sans smashed taters and gravy.

 

These sort of detours were becoming more frequent, and more bizarre.

 

Unexpected Only-for-Mommy-McGriddles were interspersed with scowls at the very thought of Chick Fil-A (usually a fave). Even the neighbor’s ears were perked one morning when she spied Magan literally laying in the yard while the kids played in the driveway.

 

We had already made a visit to the doctor’s office (or the “insurance office,” as far as the kids knew), so when Magan used an online coupon as an excuse to order pizza at 10 a.m., I knew we had to act fast before they thought she had something worse than a “tummy bug.”

 

Magan did what any good homeschool teacher would do, breaking out colored construction paper, scissors and glue sticks and proceeding to create a word puzzle.

 

Before I left for work, all seven children skittered into the front yard, each holding a paper (Ruthie being assisted by Noah), and Magan said, “go.”

 

Halfway through, Simon took the # and ran to the front of the line, “Oh, look, it’s a hashtag.”

 

“No, that also means ‘number,” Magan and I replied.

 

Two minutes later: Voila.

 

“Halcombe Baby # 8 coming April 2020.”

 

“Cheaters” by Simon was followed by “I don’t have a word” by AnnaMarie, who was holding the 8. Once it all sank in, Eli shouted, “yes, yes, another brother.”

 

A similar reaction awaited us as we shipped out the photo in small batches across the community.

 

“I didn’t do a good enough job coaching you,” our football coach winked later that day, followed by a “very proud for you.”

 

Six months earlier, I ran into the mom of one of my classmates, who had a much different reaction at the thought of adding to our brood.

 

“Are you done?” she asked.

 

“That’s really up to Jesus,” I replied, in a cadence identical to Bill Belichick’s “We’re focused on Cleveland.”

 

“Well, you know Jesus also taught you common sense?” she said with “you-ought-to-know-better” raised brows.

 

“Which one should I give back?” I replied, doubling down on the “We’re focused on Cleveland” notes.

 

“I didn’t say that,” she said, startled.

 

Magan and I never set out to fill up a 12-passenger van, or multiple triple bunk beds, but the fact remains that God had other ideas.

 

As she and I have learned as our family has ballooned, submitting wholly to God’s plan means shedding any need to rely on our own understanding in all things, including when it comes to stork visits to Dublin.

 

In return, we have reaped the blessings preached in Psalm 127:3-5, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord…”

 

We also believe this train of thought falls in line with the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life. “...God alone is the Lord of life..." (Donum Vitae, 5).

 

Until next May, you may spot me at a drive-thru at odd times of the day or night, but it will have all been worth it to receive another one of God’s blessings in our lives. I’m just thankful she hasn’t craved that Popeye’s chicken sandwich, because they’re all sold out, and the closest Popeye’s is an hour away.

 

Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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