I have heard countless women share with me how very much they would like to have a child. I have heard the longing and the heartache in their voices as they shared of infertility, procedures, failed pregnancies, and child loss. As I think about their stories, I cannot help but think about my own desires, just six short years ago. I remember the nights of endless crying, the pain in my chest when someone asked when we were going to start having children, the frustration of working at a job that I just knew I had no desire to continue my entire life, and the fear of the uncertain.
Then, I remember later, the disappointment when the second pink line didn’t appear, the jealousy towards family and friends that had two kids too many, the anger towards those who could just blatantly throw away children in the name of “free choice,” and the incompleteness that filled my heart.
I remember the emptiness with each miscarriage.
I was totally in love with the idea of having children – of having a large family. I loved the idea of sharing our “secret” with the world. I loved the idea of a big baby shower with lots of precious baby clothes. I loved the idea of decorating a nursery with little baby animals. I loved the idea of holding my baby for the first time. I loved the idea of bring him/her home. I loved the idea of their sweet faces welcoming me each morning. I loved the idea of little fingers and tiny toes. I loved the idea of giving bedtime kisses and hugs. I loved the idea of loving them.
I loved the idea…
My ideas became actual reality.
As exciting as two pink lines were, it was also accompanied by much fear. I was hesitant to share our “secret,” as many had quick judgments that they were more than happy to share. I was terribly sick with each of my seven pregnancies. Cleaning wallpaper off the wall at 7 months pregnant was not easy. Hospital = nightmare. My first baby never ever slept. My second had colic. My third went through about 10 different formulas and 6 different bottles, before she would eat without screaming. I was exhausted all the time. There was poop, barf, and a sundry of other unpleasant excrements to clean up, usually, one right after the other. There were rashes, fevers, and injuries that kept the blood pressure up. There were decisions – lots of decisions – about vaccinations, circumcision, breast feeding, and many more to keep me wondering if we were doing the right thing or permanently destroying this little person’s life. There was a lot of crying, questioning, and regretting.
What happened to the love that I had? Nothing. I still loved the idea of having children. Why didn’t I live like it?
The main reason was that my ideas were really just expectations, and they were very unrealistic. They only included the most perfect, most beautiful, and most memorable things I could imagine. Because I had never actually had my own child, I had failed to account for the difficult, the exasperating, and the just plain awful moments. I couldn’t even fathom how being tired could warp your sense of well-being, or how post-partum depression could destroy certainty all together. It was easy to love the ideas that I had created in my mind, but not so easy to love the actual reality of my desires fulfilled.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are so many beautiful and wonderful moments of being a parent. There are sweet hugs, sloppy kisses, and flowers with no stems. There are peek-a-boos and I love yous. There are moments of shared laughter, until the tears run down your cheeks and your sides hurt. There are sticky fingers that play with your hair, and happy feet that greet you after you have been away. There are snuggles and tickles before bedtime, and little tiny voices to wake you much too early. So much to love.
Just like everything in life, there is bad with the good, work with the play, pain with the joy, and hate with the love.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
My point is this: It is wonderful to have hopes, dreams, desires, and ideas. Just be careful about falling in love with just the idea itself. Don’t just fall in love with the idea of having children. Being a mother is the hardest job – the hardest role you will ever have. There will be times that you wonder if you made a mistake. Times that you question where you are and what you are doing. There will even be times that you wish you could take a permanent vacation and leave it all behind.
I want you to know that this is reality. This is truth. Do not spend so much time designing a fairy tale in your mind that you create unrealistic expectations. Life is hard. Motherhood is hard. However, it is those perfect, idealist moments make the “real” all worth it.
Fall in love with more than an idea. Fall in love with reality – with truth – with your children, themselves – the good and the bad. If you do this, you won’t be disappointed.
For more on this topic read: https://perfectjoyministries.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/future-grace/
Original material by Holly M. Besser, ©2014. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bp6309-02-14