Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Big Family. Is It Worth It?

I divide my children into two categories: my first litter and my second.  My first litter is the older four and there is no more than a year and a half between each of them. Then, there are three years between the youngest of that litter and the oldest in my next, separated by a miscarriage and many months of serious mental health issues.

So I look at these two in their vastly different places and stations in my life.  The older four, while still young, are pretty independent.  The youngest of them will be 6 in a few short months.  The second litter is comprised of a 2 1/2 year old who is ON from sunup to sundown, and a very needy 10 month old who still is almost exclusively breastfed and doesn't know how to sleep through the night yet.  I wonder if  am convinced she and her older brother are in cahoots.

So is it hard? 


Is it worth it?


Am I a terrible mother for not even knowing where to begin in answering that question? It's weighty and depending on what kind of mood I'm in, if I've had my coffee or- God forbid- a shower, the answer could vary moment to moment, day to day.

I look at those cherry-sweet faces and I ask myself all the time, what if I hadn't continued to be open to life after my miscarriage?  What if I let my fears overrun me, crowding out my deepest desire to please the Lord and serve Him in whatever way He asked? I can only think of another question: does it even matter?

They are here.  And I love them.

It's a long labor of love, this parenting gig.  Whether you have 2 or 4 or 6.  When you let God design your family, when you shirk all worldly thoughts and maybe even some acknowledgement of your own feelings and capabilities as you measure them, when you just BE for a moment without all the control and pretense, you can't ask yourself questions like this.  You just can't.

Because it really doesn't matter.

You have to just do the next thing. Change the next diaper.  Nurse that baby.  Push those chubby toes out of your face at night.  And just be.  Keep going.  Labor away.

Time goes by, regardless.  Sometimes it passes at a yawning, groaning, aching pace, and sometimes it flits by in a flash, chasing after a future always out of grasp.  Sometimes it is comprised of lost babies, empty arms, foggy mind, and sometimes it's full of little hands to hold, nurslings, round bellies, full breasts.

Time teaches you, heals you, grows you, regardless of its contents.  It isn't really a measure of contents anyway, so much as allowance.

Allowance for things you may not plan.  Allowance for life to crack you wide open, and for the mighty hand of God to piece you back together in the manner He sees fit.

And really, if I think about it, if I sit down in the quiet (which, incidentally, is a rare find around here), I can tell you that yes, definitely.  It is indeed worth it.