when we got pregnant with layla so soon after having judah i thought maybe it was the start of becoming a mom of many kids. i liked that idea. i pushed hard for having back-to-back babies (in a time sense, not a sharing a womb together sense...i'll pass on twins!) partially because being that kind of family seemed fun and, hey, we'd better get going. i never gave it much more thought than that. i love the duggars so hard, and while 19 has never been on any agenda of mine, the picture of lots of kids playing together and loving their big family really appealed to me. i only have one sibling and it was sort of lonely. i thought my parents were selfish slackers for only having two kids. ha. hahahahahaha. stupid, stupid child.
the past 3 months have put that idea to
rest death. i had always just thought, "i will have the kids first, and then that will force me to be the right kind of mom to 2/3/4/5/6 kids." while i think god certainly gives grace to get through anything, and would certainly have been all up in that, i have recently realized that this might not be the wisest idea for me. i now believe that moms like michelle duggar---that is to say, any mom who can biblically, intentionally, and patiently parent that many little ones at the same time--are to a certain extent born, not self-made.
i mean to say that i think it takes more than just generally wanting lots of kids to be the kind of mom who can actually thrive and be fulfilled by the calling of the day-in day-out mothering of lots of kids.
that's a dukes, not a duggar. and we're thrilled to have her.
maybe you had this moment growing up. i can remember going into my room as a 13-14 year old and saying, "i am going to put on makeup and do my hair so carefully and deliberately that i will be the most beautiful i have ever been." a total makeover to find out my potential. and i remember when i got done being kind of perplexed by the fact that cameron diaz, britney spears, and all the other hot chicks on TV were so much prettier than me still. it wasn't a feeling of insecurity or ugliness, it was just the realization that no matter how much extra stuff i tried, i would never look that good.
you cant just want your way into being starlet-pretty, you have to be born with a certain framework to start with. bummer if that's your major life's goal, but kind of a relief in another way: since it just wasn't in my particular genetic makeup, it wasnt something i needed to shoot for or run after, it was simply something that i wasn't.
like being right-handed or too short to play front row in volleyball, that's just who i am. and the realization was like when you are waiting for news and it finally comes. it may not be the news you wanted, but there is still a relief and peace that at least you aren't still waiting, with it hanging over your head, or killing yourself trying to make the good news come. i had my answer and could move on, being the prettiest me possible, and leaving the full lips, doe-eyes and mandatory institutionalizations to the famous chicks.
so these past months have led me down a similar path about what kind of mom i am. layla's early mobility coupled with judah's 2 year old boundary testing have made parenting more a display of cat herding than anything. jesse and i have looked at each other across the toy and crumb-strewn wasteland of our living room while wrangling kids and gasped, "no! more! babies!!!" we dont mean forever (i'm betting we end up with at least 3) but we just can't do them back to back anymore like i had envisioned.
instead of feeling like a sucky failure who didnt make the mom-of-many-at-once cut, i feel a great peace now that i have realized that i dont have to try my way to being zen earth mother to a brood, that that just isnt who i am. and instead of waiting for the grace that would make me this person all of a sudden (aka the magic wand that makes me look like giselle), i might already be receiving the grace that says, "it's okay, and even right, for you to not be that person."
a more immature keight might have tried to force god's hand (cause, yeah, that's possible) and just had the kids first because she liked the idea of it and then demanded that he show up and get her through it (i'm sure he loves that). but it has been really cool to instead stop looking at all those bloggy or friend or TV moms-to-many, to drop my ever-changing wants or expectations ("oh, look at that family's picture on pinterest! let's have twin boys rightnow!") and instead look to jesus for the answer to the question of, "what kind of mom am i? what kind of daughter to you am i?"
holding tight to the picket fence dream
since asking this my antennae have been up and my sensors alert. when i am with my kids i am noticing how parenting plural munchkins makes me feel. what energizes me or fills me with jesus? what stresses me out and makes me growl such frustrated noises that judah says, "mah scay-urd." and what do these observations tell me? what do they indicate that i need to work on or pray about? can i get any wisdom about what this means for planning our family and what is best for us?
fresh off my day-old epiphany, i am now qualified to give unsolicited advice (yes! let's all gather round and listen to the chick who contemplated pulling a power play on YAWEH, creator of the universe. what founts of wisdom spew forth from her bosom!). if you are feeling the itch to have a baby or have another baby, because of your age or your friends all having babies or pressure from parents, or from some mental picture of your dream family that probably came from a catalogue, try, TRY to set those feelings and motives aside and really ask yourself and jesus (if you swing that way...though he'll show up even if you don't) if that picture is true or best or realistic for who you really are and where you are.
the good news: i didnt do this before deciding to have either of my kids, and i really dont think i WAS ready for them, but, aloha? i LOVE them and they are the #3 and #4 best things to happen to me (jesus and jesse in case you were wondering about 1 & 2). but i have had to learn some really hard, ugly things about myself along the way, and i have hurt my kids hearts because i was having to do my growing on the fly instead of entering parenthood with a humbly prepared heart. if i could do it over again and be guaranteed judah and layla, i would have waited at least 2 or 3 more years before becoming a mom.
our little tools...and the amazing children playing with them (see what i did there?) please note layla's belly overhang, and judahs lush locks. dear golly, we love them.
it never occurred to me before either baby to ask for the self-awareness--and i shudder to use such a churchy word, but i think it's appropriate here too--or revelation to evaluate who i am and where my strengths are, and if they are appropriate and compatible with the family i wanted. only in the chaos and coming to the end of my mommy rope lately have i gotten the wake up call to turn this stuff back to jesus. being mommy to and authority over little kids around the clock can get me in "i'm in charge" mode so deeply that i seriously forget that i'm NOT!
thinking of some of this stuff before jumping into decisions really feels like wisdom straight from jesus. it's so counter to my normal methods and so out of the blue that i know it's his grace working sparkly magic in me.
so i ask you:
1. do you think it takes a special kind of person to be a mom to lots of kids all close in age? or does having the kids first make the mom?
2. how hard will we all laugh when i turn up pregnant with twins next month?