Some girls are born dreaming about getting married and pushing babies around in strollers (I have a daughter like this). I was not one of those girls. It just wasn’t something I thought about. I thought about how the world should be and what I was going to do in it. I thought about the places I wanted to see and things I wanted to learn and experience. But never that. Perhaps I was influenced by the culture around me–many are divorced (my family included), most mothers worked outside of the home and being a wife and mom were not a vocation in their own right to consider. Maybe I didn’t consider being a wife and mother as desirable because I didn’t see too many examples of women enjoying the vocation.
Then my life rolled on, God steered me in the direction he had planned for me, and I found myself married. I also found myself hanging around a bunch of homeschooling Catholics with large families. Never before this did I EVER think I wanted a large family–there just was nothing appealing about it to me. Then I saw the appeal–I saw the older children serving the little ones. I saw the whole large clan sitting together, belonging to each other. I saw dedicated mothers and fathers trusting God for their finances and daily needs and God meeting those needs. I saw faith in action in these families–people truly living what they claim to believe.
I knew what the Catholic faith taught about contraception. I reluctantly practiced what she teaches. But I really had (and still have) a lack of faith in God providing me with what I would need to have however many children he wanted us to have. Somehow, being around those beautiful families, I got it. My ideas of what is desirable started to change. I felt like I could trust God in this area of my life. So along came baby number 3. After she was born, I again felt a desire for one more little one. We were blessed with another precious girl. After she came, my midwife recommended no more–I think because I am a weiner when it comes to pain and shots and medical things, also because, “Why do you need any more?”, and I am now 40. Then my godmother saw me having a moment of marital strife and expressed the same thing to–no more babies–for understandable reasons. So that was the plan–I am 40, 4 is enough, we have a hard enough time with the 4 we have, and I don’t know if my psyche and body can handle any more of this.
The other morning, I realized that I don’t have to wear nursing bras anymore as my baby has weaned and I am back to normal. I am down to a reasonably healthy weight again after working really hard to get back to my acceptable size. My rings and regular clothes fit again. I even gave away all the baby clothes as she grew out of them and the crib. I was done with this childbearing stage. But I have been having some little nudges in the opposite direction lately… God knows I am weak in the faith tank. I am also weak in the charity and patience tank. Maybe that is the reason I feel that gentle (and irrational urge) to perhaps be open and welcome whoever God may want to send into our home…?
I read an article this morning by Rick Becker called “The Giddy Appeal of Humanae Vitae” where he explains the Church’s teachings on contraception and in the comments, someone said that the only people who are “giddy” about this teaching are those who want a large family. I think that is not true in my case–I don’t necessarily desire a large family. What I truly want is God’s will to be done in my life–I want to know, love, and serve him more and more. I want to live the way he wants me to live–you know, that being-a-living-sacrifice thing (Romans 12:1)?… I want to go on God’s great adventure–I don’t want anything less–even the best thing I can think of for my life is not as good as what he has planned for me. The giddyness comes from the excitement of the unknown and the joy of living with trusting abandon to God. This is a sharing in the sacrifice of Christ, a laying down of my own will in favor of God’s will. If this means more children, God help me, I want that too. If that means no more, well, he knows what I need and can handle.
I do not claim that I am fully there yet–but I know that this is the path to joy. I pray that I will have the grace to surrender my own will to God’s and trust in his designs, whatever that may mean…
Moral of this story: Be careful of who you hang out with!