Saturday, February 22, 2014

Embracing This Place

I really enjoy being a Mama. It is a brutal, amazing, humbling, rewarding, life giving, exhausting, beautiful and frustrating calling. Even when it's hard I am so grateful for the opportunity, the experience and the serious spiritual/character development motherhood has brought to my life.
And I as I stand at the end of my 30s, looking at the not-so-little people growing up before my eyes I am struggling with this being 'it.' Am I really done with Kindermusik, smocked dresses, finger paints and preschool soccer forever?
We never intended to stop having children after the triplets. I declined the suggested tubal during my C-section because we were open to God blessing us with a spontaneous pregnancy. (That's what we fertility veterans call old-fashioned 'natural' conception that doesn't require intervention.) But as a result of my heart failure, a subsequent pregnancy was forbidden by multiple doctors. I have a greater than 50% chance of recurrence with a more devastating prognosis--including death--from pregnancy. 
I am an advocate for foster kids and have been actively involved in ministries supporting them since before my children were born. I mentor, transport and love on foster kids--but it has not been a call my husband and I have felt yet for parenting them in our home. Several years ago we even attended the training to be approved, only to discover at that time we were disqualified by the number of small children we already had.  That door (for now?) is closed.
As I've experience 'the itch' for another off and on, while not having the certainty of a mutual calling within my marriage, it has led to some soul searching about my motives for 'wanting' another.
The answers have often been an interesting look into the condition of my heart.
After our journey through infertility, a complicated pregnancy and a highly unusual baby stage I just wanted a chance to raise one and enjoy the ride a bit more than the 'drinking from a firehose' experience I had with triplets. It just seems so idyllic.
Recently I was talking to my husband about my renewed interest in a toddler (because, honestly, I am too old for middle of the night feedings and require 8-9 hours sleep.) As we were discussing my desire, I tearfully confessed I just wanted another chance--a do-over--a chance to put into practice the 1000s of lessons I have learned so far.
My husband, with great wisdom and tenderness, looked right in my eyes and said, "It's not too late with the three God has given us."
And I realized he was right. I have no idea what God has in mind for our family down the road, but for now, we are five. And instead of escaping the hard days TODAY by overly romanticizing what a do over might look like. I must accept the reality, subsequent children would have their own bend. We would have to learn them--and in the process relearn ourselves--through the assured sanctification each trip down the road of parenthood requires.  
I have a beautiful life with people I adore. My boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places.
As if on cue, I came across this quote last night:
Wherever you are in your parenting journey, be Present in it. Embrace today and savor where you're at." -Rachel Anne Ridge" via Twitter
And so, on this gorgeous Saturday, I will embrace the Legos that now cover our old train table, the comic books that have taken over the board books, and the smelly socks that I wash now instead of smocked john johns.
I get to sleep through the night, have delightful conversations about the differences in red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons. My children can help around the house. We go on adventures and travel pretty light. They tie their own shoes and wipe their own bottoms. Most of the time, they love me well. There are many gifts to this season.
This is my God ordained life--and when I pause to really drink it in instead of missing it by daydreaming about something else-- it is good.


Kristie Grandsko said...

I always had the same feeling, because I didn't "get my act together" until my kids were 11 & 15. Plus we had our first my husbands senior year of high school. The wisdom, plus the "real job" and the money came much later. I always thought how perfect it would be if I got a second chance, but God ( and my husband) told me use all your resources with the time you have left with the 2 you have! After I focused on that life was much more enjoyable! Now they are ages 19 & 15 I will by the grace of God be celebrating 20 years of marriage this year along with a 40th birthday! I also figure I will really enjoy being a grandparent!

Keri said...

Oh my goodness! I can so relate to this struggle/temptation of wanting a do-over, only to repeatedly come to the conclusion (thanks to the Holy Spirit's wisdom) that I need to just be thankful for where I am with motherhood right at this moment.

I can only imagine your desire to have a "normal" experience with one baby instead of three, but I can relate to it somewhat from my own perspective. In my case, my three children didn't come all at once, but they were pretty close together by most people's standards (the oldest had just turned four when the youngest was born, the middle child wasn't yet two). So I felt like my years of enjoying the baby/toddler/early childhood stage were crammed together, highly chaotic, and over in a flash. For me, the desire for a do-over comes from the feeling that I didn't do a very good job of savoring that special season, that I was too stressed out about the wrong things to really enjoy my little ones while they were truly little. I keep thinking that I'd do a much better job really soaking in the special times with another one. Another biological child isn't an option for us, and while we haven't closed the door on adoption at some point, I feel like I need to focus on savoring the NOW with my children, so that in 5 more years I'm not wanting a do-over of their early elementary stage! :-)

Anyway, I didn't mean to write such a long comment, but your post really resonated with me. I appreciate your reminder here that God wants to delight in our families right now, as they are, rather than glorifying the past or -- maybe worse -- trying to re-create it.

Nancy said...

Your blog used to be one of my "must reads" every day (of about 100 that were in my blog reader). When Google Reader went away, I cut way back on my reading (addiction?). I decided to look you up again and it felt like going back home. Even though my kids are grown and I don't directly relate to the stage of life you're currently in, I missed your way of finding the lessons in everyday life. Thank you for sharing your heart with the blogosphere. You do a great job...both blogging and as a parent.

dee said...

You know my children are grown, but I can still relate to this post. Two years into the empty nest stage, I find myself still cringing when people ask, "So, how is the empty nest?" I miss my children (and their friends) being at our house. But my husband and I are also "embracing this place" as we navigate being empty nesters, and it definitely can have its perks! We are very thankful that our children are all close by, and we do see them often.

Lauren and Eddie said...

I am 30 and we have two boys at home - 2 and 4. This is the second post I've read today about knowing when you're "done" and when God is "done." Clearly I need to have my listening ears on. My husband is perfectly content with our little four-person family. Most days we feel like we are drowning in parenting the two that we have. I, however, have the baby itch and just cannot fathom not going through it all over again - just one more time! I, too, remind myself - OFTEN - that I haven't finished with my biggest one. He seems to be my guinea pig in all things parenting. Where I was harsh with him, I am much more calm and rational with my second. I have to remind myself that he's only four...I may not get a do-over on the baby stages with him, but we hopefully have a LOT of time left together to "get it right."

Denise Ross said...

Embracing the place where we are at. Love it. I have 2 1/2 yrs between my oldest and middle child and 7 1/2 years between my middle and youngest, which means a 10 year and three day gap between my oldest and youngest. From experience I've found yes there are definitely changes in the way we parent as more children come along, but we still don't end up parenting the way we dream of parenting. I am embracing each stage of my child's lives, my oldest is now 18 yrs and from my perspective the time goes by very quickly. Our offspring spend more time out of the nest than they do in it. Gods mercies are new to us each morning, including our parenting. Definitely enjoy where you're at, for God has you exactly where He wants you at this point. Lavish your love on the children you have and love where they're at with all their quirks and personality differences. It's exciting