Amy Schumer’s objections to the plus-size label received a lot of attention lately. As I turned the words over in my mind, I suddenly had a new framework for my life. Because if anything describes our family, it is certainly Plus Size.

Labeling can be damaging or restrictive; but it can also empower and provide context. This one is dead on for us. Rarely can we eat in a restaurant or book a hotel without a reminder that we are not Normal Size. When it was time to purchase a vehicle we had to walk right past all of the sedans and even the mini-vans. Nothing mini for this family. The giant, overfull Carmax lot had not one car to fit our family. Not one. We ended up with a Nissan NV 12-passenger van, which is still bursting at the seams on every family trip.

We turn heads everywhere we go. 20 feet stomping into the coffeeshop, a wave of bodies pouring out of the Big Black Van, loud voices filling the auditorium as we enter a concert. We’ve been asked many times if we are a youth group, if we are babysitters, even if we need help. But this is by far the most common question to me:

“Are these all yours?”

I hate answering this more than anything. Because yes, most certainly, they are all ours. Ours in the sense that we love them all, feed them all, drive each one to baseball , to violin, to the dentist, the doctor, camp in Wisconsin. For each we have cleaned up vomit, picked out lice, cheered at games, held in tears, admonished, praised, and raised up. Each and every one is ours.

But invariably the question quickly follows:

“You actually gave birth to this many kids?”

Well, no.

I’ve birthed 5 which is not a small feat – but no, I did not birth all 8. I am not the birth-mother of three of them. And I have great respect for the honor, and special place, that a birth parent holds. Does claiming them as ours negate that? I’ve wrestled with everything from embarrassment to shame to frustration in the throes of this question. And many times, second-guessed my answers. Because the follow-up always leads to more questions; more curiosity at our plus-size family, and how we came to be. So many pre-conceived ideas about divorce and remarriage are hard to fend off without over-sharing. But I’ve finally reached a conclusion, and peace.

Are these children all ours? Do I feel God has entrusted me with the care and raising of all 8 of them? Yes, without a doubt.

And if I can envision all 8 little people standing there while being asked, I know that they know the answer is Yes. Any other answer would break their little hearts. Would I draw a line, point to the curly-haired girl and the two boys with glasses as I shake my head no, No not these?

Of course not. Of course they are ours, every one of them.

So how we came to be plus-size might remain obscure. I may not be able to answer every curiosity. Especially in Chicago we will probably continue to be a fascinating sideshow. But I’ve become confident in our label, and in being uniquely whole, together.

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