Earlier this week we heard for the first time the sweet sound of a strong, steady and easily-located heartbeat. The heartbeat of baby #4.
With a 4th baby we are leaving the classification of “average family size” and stepping into the classification of “big family.” And yes, we made that move intentionally. Truthfully, if you’d told me 10 years ago that I would be the mama of a big family I would have disbelieved it, would not even have thought I wanted it.
There is a not-tiny list of reasons that I may be an unlikely candidate to be such a mama. Like the fact that I didn’t even get started until I was 31. The fact that I never really much cared for kids or that I myself am 1 of 2 with all the privileges inherent therein also seem to set me up for NOT having a large family. Or the facts that I’m introverted and moody and melancholy (mothering as an enneagram type 4 has it’s own set of hardships) and have been seriously grieving since becoming a mother the loss of personal space and sense of unique identity I once found in long stretches of solitude and reflection, and that I’m easily overwhelmed and can feel like I’m drowning in monotonous ordinariness.
I’m not naive. I know (as much as one CAN know, I suppose) what we’re getting ourselves into here. I know how much harder it will be to get us all out the door for any given activity, how many more messes there will be and how many more spats and discipline moments. I am sadly aware that getting a babysitter is going to be more challenging and more costly than ever before. I know it is about to get even harder to find a little space to be alone. I realize that our grocery budget is going to suffer, that the laundry piles are about to get even more huge, and that we’re going to spend a lot of our income on kid-related things. I know that I just postponed the return of my “freedom” by a few more years. I know that it’s going to be hard work having 4 kids so close together.
But I also know this: that Tim and I both had a strong sense very shortly after Walter was born that there was one more person meant to be added to our family. It wasn’t even so much about “one more baby”, cute and squishy as they are, as it was this spiritual knowing that our family wasn’t complete quite yet. I began to experience an odd phenomenon that a friend had told me about, in which during moments of gathering all the kids together for a meal or a departure, I’d still feel like I was missing one, even when all 3 were accounted for. There is supposed to be one more. Knowing that, and not having any felt need to micromanage precisely WHEN that fourth child would be created, we simply abstained from using prevention, leaving the timing in the hands of nature and God. So in the month of March, between the birthdays of our boys, this baby was conceived. He/she is deeply wanted.
It helps to take the long view. I imagine 15 or 20 years from now, who will be sitting around our dining room table for family meals? Ever since I began this exercise, I have imagined that number to be 3 or 4 adult children plus their friends/spouses. I know that between here and that happy picture of a table full of wonderful adult children whose company I delight in there will be a sh*t load of work and plenty of really hard days and many tears of frustration and heartbreak and desperation. But I’m fully convinced that it will be worth it.
These 4 are my disciples, so may God make me faithful to mother them well and to show them Jesus in spite of all my personal liabilities and sin patterns and quirks. I’m trusting that the building of a family is ultimately and unavoidably God’s work and that He knows exactly what He’s doing here. For reasons I may not EVER fully know, I am the best mother for these children, and we’ve been put together for purpose.
So let’s do this, as Tim says. 🙂