I’m an (almost) 42-year-old mom with 10 kids, including a one year old. There are days I open my eyes in the morning, stare at the ceiling, and know that people think I’m crazy even though I feel pretty normal.
And I don’t blame them.
I could have not had 10 children. It’s easy to prevent them. Even with Natural Family Planning (which we’ve used before–and it didn’t seem natural at all), once you’ve resumed your cycle from breast feeding. People think I chose to have this many children and I didn’t. Choosing not to prevent them isn’t the same as “seeing how many you can have.”
Sometimes I still get up at night with the baby. I’ve been getting up with babies for twenty years. I still can’t eat a meal without regular interruptions. Yes, some days I do just want to eat my food and that’s all. (What if meal time was just a quiet event with no noodles to scrape off the floor afterwards?)
I still have toddlers who are very needy. And wonderful. I have teenagers who are even more needy. And complicated. And also wonderful. Some days, quiet would be nice. But our house is full and bustling and always with needs.
I do, in fact, have my hands full. And I am human. I wonder sometimes what it would have been like.
And right now, in the thick of it, I think I know why birth control is such a popular invention, and so vehemently defended. Because this very full-time job of mothering is, well, very full-time.
All the things in my life like being interrupted at meals or being tired of hearing “Mommy” or being tired of changing diapers or maybe just being ready to “be done” with all the busyness of motherhood–
I keep coming back to this: all those things are self-centered things that completely disregard the eternal hand of God in my family, in this, my short life. And I am called to not set my mind on things of the earth so much.
I could have chosen to be less tired. I could. I could have chosen to have more free time or a firmer tummy. I could be living a whole different life right now, with just two almost-grown children.
But it would have been what I chose. And I can make really bad choices. Instead, I have what God chose for me. And there is an indescribable amount of peace in that.
(Yes, this post is partly just a talk to myself, a reminder to this very flesh-covered woman.)
So on the days when I’m tempted to feel overworked or when I’m tempted to look at another mother with a bit of envy, I don’t have to give in to that. In fact, I can rejoice. I do rejoice.
I carried my little year-old fellow up the stairs tonight to change his diaper. His face was like staring into the face of God. I don’t always have those kinds of moments, but tonight I did. This little, sweet creature, (demanding as he can be at times) a new person half me, half my husband, all himself. A miracle. I know people who don’t have 10 kids don’t believe I can feel the same for mine as they do for theirs (I used to be that mother), or marvel anymore or feel my heart will burst in two with love, but I do.
And here’s another bit of truth: I will likely have another baby if I don’t choose to prevent one. Most people think it’s crazy to have 10, much less another one. Sometimes even I do. I mean, 10! It’s not like I need anymore children. But that’s never been the point. That’s what no one ever gets. They think I chose (or tried?) to have this number the same way they have their “perfect” number. But that’s never how it’s been.
I simply look at each of my children with more love than I can believe my heart will hold, and I know that I didn’t choose them and I’m so glad God gave them to me anyway. And I think the thought of missing one–even now–if I decided to stop for the sake of not having to endure anymore criticism, or another sleepless night, or whatever thing–breaks my heart.
Yes I am busy with this many children. But I’ve given them my life–all of me so that I don’t think any one of them feels neglected in the least way. They still tell me they hope we have another baby. So the people who say that I’m spreading myself too thin, they must be wrong.
I don’t like the idea of announcing another pregnancy because I know it seems bizarre. I even fear it. But I can’t stand the thoughts of just waking up tomorrow and saying “no” to God for the rest of my short child-bearing years. I can’t stand the thought of missing the rest of my children.
In the course of our lives, we are being spent doing something. I don’t see why being spent into the lives of my precious children is such a bad thing.