You know that whole “I need to be more flexible and open to God’s plan” thing I wrote last Wednesday? (If you don’t, click here.) Want to see just how pathetically weak I am? I’m already back to being a crazy control freak and questioning this whole mothering thing and whether I’m cut out for it.
My confusion was sparked last week. One of the moms in my homeschool group just joyously announced she’s expecting her fifth child in November. Her youngest is around the same age as Rachel Marie and when I heard this wonderful news, I could feel my biological clock fanatically ticking inside of me. This came as somewhat of a surprise since I’d just been thinking – like five minutes before I heard my friend was pregnant – that I needed to be getting a little more (reality: a lot more) sleep again before I was ready for another child. That’s worth repeating: Before I was ready for a child. See it? See how I was thrust into “Me-Me-Me” Land again?
Even when the tables abruptly turned when my friend shared the news of her pregnancy, I was completely wrapped up in what I can do and what I can’t do. Yet, I was not longer pining for more sleep; I was pining for a baby, wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I not pregnant again?”
Then I started thinking – as if bringing babies into the world was the latest competition – I’m quite a few years younger than this friend. Younger women are supposed to be more fertile, right? And I only have two kiddos. One. Two. Not one, two, three, four. So why haven’t I even gotten my cycle back yet? Does God think I’m not up to the task?
I certainly felt like I wasn’t up to the task this past Sunday when I had another bad day in the trenches. It was almost right up there with my Worst Mommy Day Ever (which, by the way, was the hardest post I’ve ever written; yet, it was the one I received more emails about from moms saying they, too, have had days like that).
I don’t know what’s wrong with me. One day I’m flying high. I feel like I should be up for Best Mommy of the Year or some sort of maternal accolade. These are the days when you can almost here my shouting, “Bring it on, Big Guy!” “It” being more babies, more little souls to take care of…or when one of those bad days rolls around, more souls to ruin.
I go back and forth trying to decide how many kids is right for me. How many kids can I handle? How much chaos is just too much? One day I’m thinking about how much I like order in my life and the next day I’m dreaming of the crazy, delightful antics a big family would surely produce. Sometimes I think the magic number is four. Other days, I think, why not have a few more?
But sometimes I start thinking I don’t need or deserve anymore children.
Like on Sunday, when I was weeping, feeling like the worst mom ever, begging God to not give me anymore children to yell at, begging for his forgiveness and his graces, wondering why despite my Herculean efforts and I felt, very noble efforts, to go to Mass solo with two cranky kids (Dave was on call this past weekend), I came home feeling more tired and defeated than when I left.
Back at home, I faced power struggles with Madeline involving her not wanting to poop (yes, it’s a recurring theme in our lives) when her body was clearly telling her she had to poop and nap battles with my previously sleep-loving baby who has suddenly adopted some nocturnal habits and nap-boycotting tendencies. Then it was Mommy falling apart…feeling sad and showing my sadness through silent tears while my 3-year-old coming over to me and delicately touching my face and my hair, comforting me.
How did I get here? So despondent, so doubtful of my mothering? Only days before I felt jipped, wishing I was the one expecting another child. Now I was crying because I’d just lost my patience with my children and my 3-year-old was soothing me. Not surprisingly, that ticking clock was violently put on snooze.
All the while, God was waiting, waiting for me to stop trying to figure things out, waiting for me to stop trying so hard to be in control and to just get down on my hands and knees and say, “I need you.”
Maybe that’s why he gives me bad days every once in awhile. If I was always flying high, would I ever feel the need to humble myself, to kneel before the Crucifix as I found myself doing Sunday evening after the kids were finally asleep and whisper, “Please help me”?
And he will help me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). Whenever I’m discerning my family size – whether I’m wondering why I’m not pregnant or how I can possibly have another little one who needs me so completely – I have to remember that God knows something that I don’t. Scratch that: God knows EVERYTHING that I don’t.
Jen at Et Tu? said it best in a great post about discerning family size: “When making decisions about bringing new lives into the world, we should focus a lot more on accurately discerning God’s will and a lot less on our own assessment of what we think we can and can’t do. As I have found, God sometimes calls people to do very unlikely, seemingly impossible things – especially when it comes to parenthood. But he does, indeed, equip the called.”
And he will equip me. Truth is, I won’t wake up someday with six or more kids (not likely to happen anyway). This is a learn-as-you-go-process. Sometimes it’s a cry-yell-apologize-humble myself- kind of process, too.
So for the time being, I’m going to move on. I’m going to forgive myself for my ugly mom moments this weekend (besides, we have plenty more good days than bad; I’m just someone who tends to need the catharsis of writing when I’m down in the dumps, not when I’m “flying high.”). This is enough self-flagellation for awhile. I’m going to focus on what God can do through me, not what I can’t do. God gave me these precious souls. He called me to be a mom. Every day he’s asking me to relinquish control, to bend to his will. Will I answer his call? Or will I hide behind a litany of “cant’s”?
Scripture: “She will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:15)
“For in the image of God has man been made. Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 9: 6-7)
Spiritual Resolution: Read Philippians 4: 4-13 and believe it.