Dear lovely readers,
I wrote a post. This post, in fact. I wrote it in October of 2010, a year and half ago. And then . . . I sat on it. I was nervous about being this vulnerable and sharing these things that were so close to my heart. I was afraid to make public these feelings that may not be “right” but that were happening anyway. But now that we’ve embarked on the pregnancy journey, I wanted to resurrect this draft and show you what I was thinking a year and a half ago about babies. I love seeing the journey my heart has made, guided by the gentle hand of God, and I hope you enjoy it too!
The New Mama
During our 4 years of dating prior to our 5 years of marriage, my husband and I weren’t convinced we ever wanted to have kids. When I was growing up, I was never the little girl that dreamed of being a mom, and he wasn’t sure he could be a good enough dad. We didn’t talk about it a ton, but the idea was that we would keep enjoying ourselves, loving each other as much as possible, and see what happened–with no pressure to start a family. As the years of marriage slipped by, I started realizing more and more that someday I might want a family. My husband didn’t yet feel that way. If I started a sentence with “When we have kids . . . ” he would interject “If we have kids–if we have kids.” Not in a snarky way, but just clarifying that the choice was ours . . . and that he wasn’t all too convinced that was what he wanted.
I knew this wasn’t something about which I could ever change his mind, and it definitely wasn’t something I wanted to argue about, so I started praying. For years, I have been praying something along the lines of “God, if your desire is for us to have a family, change our desires so they’re in line with yours. I want both of our hearts to be on the same page as yours, and with each other. If we are supposed to have kids someday, I need both me and my husband to want it. This can’t be a place of discord, God; we need unity of purpose.”
And gradually, conversation by conversation, through our year of marriage in Bloomington, our three years in Delaware, and the past year in Chicago, I saw that my husband was starting to want a family.
This past summer during Family Vacay 2010, we hopped in kayaks and took a spin on the lake for a couple hours to do a review of the year: the highs and lows, what we had learned, what we hoped for the next year. And there, in the middle of the lake in the North Woods of Wisconsin, for the first time, he said: “I definitely want a family.” The idea was, not right now–but for sure. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I immediately started crying. “I want a family, too,” I said. A joy flooded my soul as I realized that through his faithful, patient work, God had answered my prayer and brought our hearts to the same place.
Maybe it’s typical for mid-to-late twenty-something girls to start thinking along this line. To start desiring a small creature with little limbs. Someone tiny whom you will snuggle, teach, chastise, hug. I think God has put this desire in most women–not all, but certainly a lot of us. The Bible talks about children as a blessing. We are spoken of as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. Jesus is our brother. Clearly, family is important to God. Clearly, the earthly family is supposed to teach us something about the heavenly family. Maybe there are lessons I need to learn that are unique to having children. I know they will be a tool of sanctification (refining my patience, increasing my selflessness, etc.), but I think they will also bring me to a deeper understanding of my heavenly Father and the nature of my relationship with him.
Here’s the thing–we’ve enjoyed our 5 childless years of marriage so much! It’s just . . . fun. Every night when we go to bed, it’s like a sleepover. We can be spontaneous, hop on a bus and go downtown if we feel like it. Make last-minute dinner plans with friends. We can pack light. We are both happy and peaceful and so content with our life, and a little voice in my head keeps asking me: why would you jeopardize that? Why would you willingly put an end to a phase you’re still enjoying so much? It’s like eating a delicious dessert, and willingly stopping when you’re only halfway done even though you’re still ravenous.
But . . . BUT. I’ve been praying. At another key moment during Family Vacay 2010, one evening I was kayaking on the lake with my aunt and cousin. (Why do deep revelations seem to happen while I’m in a kayak?) We watched the sun sink behind the tree line. The lake was as smooth as a mirror, and we could see the moon getting brighter and brighter in the East. I paddled off by myself for a while and just watched the sky. It was ablaze in color–dark blue where the moon was, fading to a lighter blue, then a blushing pink, and then a swath of brilliant, golden yellow. As I soaked in the beauty, I prayed “God, I sense you want us to have kids someday. You’ve brought us both to a place where we know we want that in the future. But you also know that in my heart, I’m reluctant to move on from where I am now. I’m so happy! You’ve given me such a great husband, and I’m having so much fun with him that I don’t want to ‘mess that up’ with the challenges I know kids will bring. If you want me to have kids, I need some wisdom from you. I need you to give me the conviction that it’s OK to leave behind this awesome phase and move onto a more challenging one. That it’s OK to lay aside the kind of fun we’re having now and accept something I sense will be harder than anything we’ve ever faced.”
I breathed deeply and gazed at the sky.
Suddenly, it was like God spoke into my heart. “Look at the sky,” he seemed to be whispering, “See the three colors? The deep blue to the West, the pink, and then the golden hue in the East. Isn’t it perfect?”
“Yes, it’s perfect,” I thought.
“Well,” God seemed to say, “what if it were all blue? Or all pink? Wouldn’t it lose some of its beauty? Isn’t it glorious because there are three different beautiful colors all combined into an even more beautiful whole?”
And then I saw! I am in the blue phase right now. It’s gorgeous–but at the end of my life, do I just want to have a blue sky? No, I want all the colors God has in store for my life. I can leave behind the blue and move into the pink. Each color is adding beauty to the canvas of my life. They are all different, and all necessary to the final work of art.
So even though I love the blue phase, I can leave it behind and embrace new challenges because there is beauty in each different part of life. Will it be harder? Maybe. But it will be worth it somehow.
Regardless of my mental understanding of this, my emotions still swing back and forth between exhiliration and dread. I see a few moms at a playground watching their toddlers run here and there. They seem peaceful, content. They have cute ponytails. I think “I could do that. I could have a morning excursion to the playground while the air is brisk, and then head home and make a PB&J sandwich for my small one before they settle down for their afternoon nap time.” And diapers–hey, I worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home. Diapers on a baby should not scare me in the least after what I have seen and done and smelled with people in the opposite spectrum of life.
But then I see a tired mom with 3 or 4 kids get on the bus I’m riding to work with her big, awkward stroller. I see the dirty looks the other bus riders give her when they have to move to make room for her entourage, and when her baby starts screaming and two other kids start fighting. She yells “shut up!” to her 3 or 4-year olds, and then calls someone on her cellphone. She’s loud, she’s cussing. She sounds frustrated. She looks tired, angry, and I don’t like how she’s treating her kids. “Will being a mom turn me into a monster?” I think. I know the evil inside me–and it feels dangerous.
I see a mom with a newborn strapped to her torso with one of those fabric thingies that crisscross on your back. I see the tender looks she casts at the sleeping face. I see the careful way she arranges the blanket over the baby’s body to make sure he or she is nice and warm. She looks happy, peaceful. Content. Maybe she’s going to meet a friend for coffee. Or maybe she’s going to do some shopping. But this baby at her chest is right at the center of who she is right now, of what she’s all about. And it’s a beautiful thing.
Then I see a Mom pushing a stroller down the sidewalk as I head into work. The Mom in question is in her sweatpants and looks depressed. Maybe she’s just sleepy . . . but being who I am, I of course construct a whole story around who she is, why she’s so sad, and how alone she feels by herself in the house with this baby, and I start pushing against these imaginary walls of baby-dom crying “No! I don’t want to feel alone! I don’t want to be trapped in baby world!”
Maybe next year I’ll feel ready.
Is this normal? This back and forth? This consuming desire, and then this fear and resistance?
These are the times that I wonder about birth control. Yes, it’s given women more power over their bodies, and more opportunities. No, I wouldn’t have wanted to have a baby right at 22 when I got married. I am grateful for role the pill has played in my life. It’s made that time of month less painful and more regular. It’s allowed us to have 5 fabulous years of marriage getting to know each other, learning how to live together harmoniously without anyone else in the picture. But then I think about how much easier it would be if it just happened when it happened. If the decision weren’t mine, it would almost be . . . easier to accept. Liberating, in a way. I keep secretely hoping that I’ll get a surprise baby. Even after the pill has worked its magic so effectively for 5 years, I feel hopeful about being part of the 0.01% margin of error.
And I just want to add (since I know this can be quite the hot topic): I’m not taking a political stance on birth control . . . or a religious stance . . . or any stance at all. I’m just saying that as someone who has taken the pill for 5 years and had a great experience with it, I still have moments of questioning. Of hoping that this month . . . it will fail.
Right or wrong or neither, these are my emotions.
I don’t know what God has in store exactly. Maybe we won’t be able to have kids. Maybe we’ll be called to foster care, or to adopt. Or something so unexpected I can’t even imagine it now. Maybe there will be miscarriages, infertility. Maybe twins, or triplets. I don’t pretend to know what the future holds. All I can say is that my heart is a work in progress. I’m learning about the beauty of family. I’m learning about God’s patient work in our hearts, and his kindness to me and my husband as he guides us through this emotional process.
Thank you all for reading . . . it wasn’t my ‘usual fare,’ but it felt good to express all this. To verbalize these thoughts that have been with me for so long. I’m sure some of you have words of wisdom . . . or perhaps similar struggles. I love you guys–and I always love to hear your comments and thoughts.