Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Ah, this is a lovely post. It is about the end. Fearing the future without the promise of a new baby of your own. About the marching on of time, and passing of eras, and the diminishing of our own youth and promise. But that life will go on, with new promises.

I already went through this once. It is documented with this post, entitled, "Living Life with and Open Hand":

I don't know if it was the icon, the fact that many people I know are pregnant, or the fact that I am forty and haven't had a baby in 3 years, but the phrase "open to life" has been bouncing around in my head with increasing trajectory for weeks.

In my history as a mother, not one other question has been asked of me with more frequency and with sincere curiosity than, "How many kids do you think you'll have?"

After about 5 years and 4 children, I landed on an all purpose answer that got my point across, wasn't hostile, and usually ended the line of questioning quickly. The answer?

"I don't know, because my husband and I are open to life."

Interestingly, no one asked me, "What does 'open to life' mean?', which was fortunate, because I am not entirely certain I knew what it meant. At the time it meant being willing to hear the "yes" to new children, even if it was challenging, or I was afraid, or I was feeling overwhelmed.

Eventually, I had to work through the idea of using Natural Family Planning, and if I was still "open to life" at that time. Could I still hear the "Yes" to creation that God was whispering to me? Turns out I could, as we had baby number 6 during that time, and when one leaves a window of opportunity open for God, and He wants something, He uses that window.

Now that I have seven children, and I am nearly 41 years old, being open to life is beginning to mean something else entirely. Something I never imagined. When people ask me now if I think I "am done", I still use the same answer, but a sinking feeling hits me at the same time and whispers, "I might be done." Now, being open to life means being open to hearing "No" to creation. It means not assuming there will always be a baby in our home, and yet, still keeping the ear ready to hear the "yes", in case that should be in God's plan.

I thought it was very challenging to keep my heart open to all the "yeses" God asked of me. I am finding keeping my heart open to the "nos" to be even more difficult. Or should I say, to the "maybes". I can say I do not look forward to 16 weeks of severe nausea, or the inevitable weight gain, or even the long, sleepless nights of the newborn phase. And yet, the thought of never having another one or "our" babies here, no more new combinations of my husband and I to marvel over and love, well, that makes my heart ache.

So now, open to life doesn't mean just being open to a new baby, it means being open to God being finished with the co-creation in our marriage. It means being willing to accept my life in thanks and joy regardless of what God's plans are for me. It means living my life with an open hand, and open heart, and not always having a vision for what my future will bring, and it means believing that God already is there, in my future, giving my all the blessings I need, no matter what they are.

Then again, later with this post, "Turning Point":

Well, it's official. I no longer have any "babies" in my house. My youngest, my baby, turned 4 this morning at 2:35am, and now she is a little girl, not a toddler, and definitely not a baby. And what a little girl she is. Confident, loving, bossy, vivacious and full of energy. Creative, funny, and very clear on what she wants.

She, of course, is thrilled to be four years old. It's about time, she says. But oh, my, as I sit here, watching the garbage truck coming to haul away the toddler bed we put at the curb this weekend, my heart is aching. No more cribs, no toddler beds. No little things. No high chairs, no potty chairs. There are no children in this house that use little things any more. She has a big bed (I'll download photos of the big bed later, along with others from her big day). She is an independent pottier. She dressed herself, and buckles herself in her car seat.

I remember longing for the day that I could say, "Everyone get in the car", and they did. When I could say, "Get on your shoes and coats", and they did. And that day is here. And I am more sad that I could have imagined.

I hate feeling this morose on a joyous birthday. I can't help it though. It's all going so quickly, and so much of my time is spent doing needed activities that distract me and exhaust me, and make my time with my family less in quantity, and quality. I mourn all the times I said "no" to my children when they asked me to read a book, because I had laundry to do, or dinner to cook, or the house to pick up, or weeds to pull. And yet, if I didn't do these things, we would be living in a hovel. I know I show my family love by caring for them and our home. It's just that the memories of all the laundry and shopping I have done do not warm my heart nearly as much as the memories of being with my babies.

I can still remember my oldest son, at three years old, sitting on my lap, and giving my spontaneous hugs, his little arms wrapping all the way around my neck, his cheek right next to mine. He still gives my hugs, but he is much taller than me now, and he stoops down to hug me, and he is careful with his hugs. The exuberant tight hugs are long gone with him. And my next daughter is 13, and she now gives delicate little hugs. Her sweet silly ways are settling down into more mature and adult behaviors. But I sure remember her 3 year old self, silly, uninhibited and so very gleeful. I won't go on through the list of all seven children and the things I remember about them, as that could get pretty dull to a non-parent, but I will share one common memory of all of them.

With the first baby I was completely caught off guard, and then with each successive baby I eagerly anticipated this moment. It usually happened at between two and three months old. I would be up in the wee hours of the morning, nursing the hungry baby. I usually nursed the babies in bed, but occasionally I would get up and sit in a chair while I nursed them. I wear glasses, with a pretty strong corrections, and would not wear my glasses while night nursing. So, there I am, sleepy, in dim light, everything a little fuzzy without my glasses, but looking at my baby, contentedly nursing away. Then the baby's eyes would open, and meet mine, and a look of delight would cross the baby's face, and a smile, almost involuntary, would erupt, a smile so big that milk would drip out of the mouth. That look would melt me and delight me, and literally feed my soul.

That look. That is the thing that I miss in my big children. They have all gone and grown up, and rightly so, but I am the same mom here. Eagerly looking into their faces, and willing them to know how much I love them. It is good, and right that the bigger kids spend more time looking away now. I know this. And I still have plenty of hugs and kisses around here, but it is slipping away. It is the greatest paradox of my life; watching these children grow up, and pull away, and knowing that by doing so, I am doing my job well. And it is breaking my heart.

And now I know I will have to go through that sadness all over again, and I dread it. However, the time is not now. Now, I still have this little promise!


Anonymous melissa said...

i totally understand how you feel... i am just turning 43 and pregnant with my seventh!!!!!! yes,it's a little overwhelming but i feel so blessed to be given this gift once again.......love your blog.........

February 09, 2010  
Blogger Mother Mayhem said...

And what a beautiful promise she is! :o)

February 12, 2010  

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