No, I am not pregnant. However, I think everyone else in the world is either pregnant, nursing or, as in the case of Tori Spelling, both.
A few weeks ago, in one Wal*Mart shopping trip, I saw NINE pregnant woman. Everytime an innocent looking female turned around there was a baby bump in my face.
All the baby talk has gotten me thinking about…well, babies. Tom and I already know we want children but this is my chance to explain why and daydream about the future. If that’s not your thing you may depart at this paragraph .
First though, as a sidenote, Thomas & I are on a day four of the MORNING (mourning?) ROUTINE (see previous post for an explanation).
We’ve been camping out in the living room for the past two nights because it puts us closer to our vitamin packs and the breakfast table. Do whatever it takes for your health, people.
(We drew the line at building a tent over our living room bed but we did star-gaze at the 12 recessed lights on our apartment ceiling. The only downside to this is that the constellations are the same as they were when we did this in December *sigh*).
Seriously though, we’re starting to feel really good. The water, extra sleep, routine, vitamins and consistently choosing healthy foods (ok, minus the ears of the chocolate bunny we demolished last night ) has made a difference. I ran a mile and a half yesterday and it was….easy? Maybe not easy but it was endurable and I could have continued. That’s a first. Usually, I am about dead by the time I finish half of a three-mile run.
We have a busy next few months and want to feel as strong as possible for them. I leave my conglomeration of part-time jobs and start a full-time one, we’re moving over the summer, Tom is likely starting a few classes for his M.A this fall. We’re paying down loans like crazy and looking at what steps need to be taken for us to move overseas in the next 3-5 years (my heart just smiled writing that sentence).
Our hearts truly long to be overseas doing a combination of Bible translation, community development and member care. There is opportunity for ministry here in the states and we’re taking advantage of that, we want to be faithful in the present, but we’re eager for the day when it’s finally time!
Ok, so none of that was about babies.
As I said, the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer because we already know we want children. Growing up I never even considered the question – I was a little mother to five younger siblings and loved it. In college I became slightly ambivalent – not resistant but just focused on education, travel and my own healing.
The day I realized I wanted children was right around Christmas a few years ago. I was driving out of a friend’s housing development and something made me think of the Chronicles of Narnia series. I cannot lie, I started crying (only about 5 1/2 tears but still…tears) when I realized if I didn’t have children I wouldn’t be able to read them those books.
Decision made .
A key reason we want children is so we have the opportunity to significantly influence some members of the next generation by raising them in a home full of grace, creativity and joy (haha – that sounds so cliché, it’s really true though). We can influence children through teaching Sunday school, working at youth camps etc. but it’s not the same level of impact as having your own.
We want our children to know the truth of the Gospel. To be forever changed by the grace of Christ, to use their imaginations (I’m not sure that will be a problem if our children are anything like us ) and to be servants of God and people.
We won’t model that perfectly, I already know it – and I’m grateful for these months/years without children so we can work on our marriage and our own ability to express those things – but we will strive to model it diligently.
I want to communicate to them that they matter. That every moment is significant. That what they do does not matter half as much as who they are and, doesn’t matter at all if they are not people of character. I want them to know that it’s ok to struggle (and to struggle deeply with things), to question and to doubt. We want to hold their hands through the painful things. We want them to know that there is no stupid question and that no fear is foolish. I want to teach them to write their letters in a tray of pudding, how to bake cookies and why sharing is important. I want to see their daddy make up bedtime stories, give them piggy-back rides and take them on a living-room campout.
I’ve heard it said that having a baby is to forever “have your heart walk around outside your body”. I already believe that’s true. I already feel that way about Tom – it’s amazing how you can feel so one with someone and yet, physically, be two. I can’t always protect him and he can’t always protect me. If anything ever happened to him a part of me would die; I think that’s how an intimate marriage should be though – it’s not a needy, “I cannot breathe without you” dependence but rather a “I am forever changed by being your wife and will not be the same if I lost you” sort of interdependence. We’re two halves of a whole.
I know having a baby will be the same way. They are an extension of your love, a part of your soul. Yet, they’re also a separate person. With their own emotions, thoughts, will and ability to make decisions. I already know that we could do everything “right” (HA! Only in theory ) and still have our precious baby, toddler, child, teenager, adult choose things that are painful to them, to us or both. I think accepting that reality is an important per-requisite to parenting…I’m speculating here, but I think if I don’t accept it, my tendency will be to control everything. Their influences, decisions and environment to get the product I want. The result is so often a child (or adult) who struggles to think for themselves, has no knowledge of grace and wrestles deeply with questions of identity and faith. I don’t want that. I don’t want to sacrifice my child’s healthy (read: not rebellious) independence, ability to ask heartfelt questions and honest wrestling for my own (temporary) emotional stability and illusions of control.
I don’t have answers yet. On how to walk that tightrope – between the necessary”controlling” of the environment that comes with young children and encouraging exploration, questioning and learning which is how they grow into mature, capable adults. I just know it matters.
I know teaching them grace, how to delight in their spiritual freedom, matters. I know tickling them until they’re red from laughing matters. I know having picnics with tiny sandwiches matters. I know pretending to drink 10 cups of tea from a child’s toy kitchen set is important. I know apologizing to them – not just expecting apologies from them – matters. I know filling our home with books, food, music and beauty matters. I know tucking them into bed, teaching them to work hard, correcting them, disciplining them and crying with them all matter.
I expect raising children will drive Tom & I to our knees like nothing else. It’s a challenge we look forward to (and our definitely apprehensive about). Yet, it’s also such a precious gift, a visible expression of our love. That baby is already loved and he/she isn’t even here yet.