I’m in countdown mode to meet the newest member of our family, only ten weeks to go (more or less….probably more..). I’m feeling pretty good still, even managed to clean out the barn and tromp through the brambly woods today to measure for upcoming fencing projects. Emotionally I feel truly amazed and blessed; this baby will come after my 42nd birthday. When I am an old woman, I believe I will have zero regrets how I spent my young (and middle) womanhood.
The hardest part has not been the varicose veins, the heartburn, the putting up of my running shoes or of my size six jeans. It’s been learning how to graciously deal with views that contrast with mine. I realize if I were a 42 year old having my first child after a good twenty years putting in a career, this baby would be celebrated more. Instead I get comments about my age or sanity, or worse, chided for making the choice to have another baby. These are the same folks who if I were to gain, say, a million dollars, would be whooping it up and throwing me a party (or at least sending me a card). So I remind myself that my values are not the same as theirs.
And of course there are other issues that have been expressed: of Ruby (should have had the genetic testing done and avoided that “problem”) and of my miscarriage (should have learned my lesson there and quit). And gee, how will I ever send all of my children to Harvard or buy their first automobiles? And oh, I’m *stealing* their childhood because they have more fun catching hens and climbing trees than (fill in your own blank regarding what a “real childhood” looks like).
Then there’s the seemingly “we care” tact some folks take: face it, these babies are making my body trashed, my retirement years in the tropics an impossibility, and my college degree a waste (never mind I’ve earned two more since having all of those children, but I digress). And if that doesn’t fly, how about how I’m ruining my husband’s economic prosperity, because we know having these children are all about MY choosing to do so (what man would want so many children, right?).
There is the catty crowd, too, the cowards who will never say anything to my face but will fly to others and make assertions that are not only untrue, but unkind. As if I never hear about it. And God forbid I would ever admit to the hardships, the trials, the broken dishes or even the snotty days because all I would ever get is something that sounds like I deserved it because I was too stupid to either only have (choose your proper number) children or that I dared to live differently.
But you know what? I am beginning to be thankful for it all.
According to BJ Palmer, “Conflicts clarify.” I am learning to be thankful for the opportunities to ponder and clarify my own faith and values, to question and evaluate my own choices, to revisit why I am not only a mother, but a mother of many. I am thankful for the insults, the insinuations, the finger counting in public, the whispered remarks and the scornful looks. It has all been a testing ground to whether or not I will stand on my beliefs, or bend to the pressure of wanting to be liked/accepted/agreed with. I am thankful for those who hate what I stand for, because they give me opportunity to have pity for and to love them anyway….while I still stand, ever strengthened by the trials. I am thankful for hurtful words and actions because they remind me that my being offended, my pride, is my greatest enemy, and that meekness is my road to resting in the Lord. After all, He is the one who allows the darts. Do I trust Him to deal with them in His own time? Or will I keep a froward heart, a sad regret for the words and deeds of others? Sometimes, trials separate pragmatists and hypocrites from the faithful.
I used to lament that separation. But now I think that separation is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it may be needful and good. And, this is not *my* war regarding the blessing of motherhood and family, for I know the blessing of each and every child in our family. I see them for the future they are, and I wonder how anyone can claim to love if even the most innocent among us are despised and unwanted or seen as a hindrance (truly, to what?). I know I am living an amazing life, and I rejoice. If my rejoicing causes others to deepen their disgust, then I will praise God even more. It is His battle, not mine.
I am thankful for the support and love we do have, and we have plenty. And I still have hope….that maybe my mommy-joy and our children’s happy lives will someday bring about repentance, or an apology, or true love. Then I will rejoice all the more for the work of God!
In the meantime, hear me clearly now. Yes, I am, by God’s grace, carrying my seventh child. And, if the Lord wills, I will keep welcoming these precious ones until menopause comes or my ovaries fall out (that statement ought to give some fodder!). When I am an old woman looking back on my life, any of the darts thrown by other people will look like rotted chicken bones and dust compared to the incalculable worth of the everlasting gems shown in the eyes and lives of my children, and their children, and their children….and I will rest in peace.