In September, I uploaded this photo of my growing family. My intentions were to announce to my relatives and friends that we were expecting a new baby in March 2017. It was a successful announcement, but to my surprise, it went viral and was shared hundreds of thousands of times across multiple social media platforms. I was somewhat blown away by the support. I couldn’t understand why this one particular photo caught the attention of so many people. After all, it was just a five-minute photo session, shot by our cousin on our front porch, with a camera that my husband had gifted me years ago. I found the shirts on Amazon.com and had my kids to line up and smile, while being bribed with a promise to get ice cream afterwards. Somehow it worked, and people absolutely loved it!
Most people, that is. While the photo went viral because of the positive depiction of an intact, African American family in this new age of America, there was also a lot of backlash expressed. Most people were intrigued and delighted by our family unit (father, mother, two sons, one daughter, and a baby bump) and they made it very clear with loving comments that complimented us in many ways. I wore a tee shirt that accentuated my growing belly and read “This is my last one, seriously” and my husband’s shirt read “The man behind the bump.” It was simply an expression of the type of people we are, and anyone who knows us would agree. We are a fun, silly, unpredictable couple who have three amazing kids that drive us crazy some days! It was supposed to be funny, but apparently some people don’t know how to have fun.
We received multiple negative, vulgar comments such as “you need to learn how to keep your legs closed,” “breeding like animals,” “you’re selfish to keep having all those kids,” birth control is an option, “his pull out game is weak,” “keep her pregnant and barefooted,” “Black people always making babies but be the main ones who can’t take care of them,” “she gon be stuck with all the kids when he leaves her,” and SO many more. Some of the harsh comments were hard to read and made me upset, but I realized that it wasn’t worth my time to respond to the ignorance. These people don’t know our story. They don’t know that we are actually a blended family, and our oldest boy is from a high school relationship my husband had. They don’t know the pain and struggles we’ve endured. Nor do they know the pure joy that came with that positive pregnancy test. There was so much criticism and negativity over something that my family was ecstatic about.
We tried for months to get pregnant with baby #4. We had experienced a prior miscarriage, but remained faithful. My kids begged and pleaded to have a baby brother or sister. It was a daily request, so every month that we didn’t conceive, it broke our hearts. We had to explain to our babies that it was out of our control and that God would give them a sibling in His timing. That was hard for them to understand. When it finally happened, I cried tears of joy because God had kept His promise to me.
Nearly nine years ago, I’d have never guessed that me and my dear friend, Jarius would be married with kids of our own. We were mere babies ourselves, walking around campus at The University of Georgia together, laughing and talking about everything under the sun. We were both Child and Family Development majors, which is how we met that glorious Summer day in a Human Sexuality class (how ironic!) but we didn’t realize that we were learning foundational lessons about what our future together would hold: children and a family. Today, my husband is a 7 year NFL veteran and I am a Stay at Home Mom who has a vegan skincare business (KenzieNaturals.com) and a Mom/Lifestyle blog (BeingMrsMommy.com). We are dedicated to our faith and our family, and are very grateful to be a positive image in a world that can be so negative. I pray that God continues to use our family as a shining example of what He is able to do. With love and God, anything is possible. By the way, if you ever find yourself judging a large family or a woman with multiple children, remember that everyone has a story, and not all people consider additions to their families as mistakes or “slip-ups.” Every child is a miracle, a blessing from God, and a story yet to be told!