I had a plan once.
You know what comes next, right? You could finish it with any number of things…
Then I got married. Then I changed my mind. Then I had kids. Then … Then … Then …
They all fall under one umbrella, though. Then, life happened.
I did get married. And it was tough. Tough enough that I thought, Kids?! Are you joking?! I was 21 and a 2nd LT’s wife living away from home for the first time. I could barely handle a dog (read about that here).
That was almost 10 years ago. We have spent the last 7.5 years inching our way toward parenthood. And when I say ‘inching’, I mean glacially inching our way toward wanting to be parents.
2007: No, thank you.
2008: Mmmm, I don’t know if that’s a good idea. Maybe in 5 years.
2009: Mmmm, no. This is more fun.
2010: Well, maybe. If they can do it.
2011: Maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.
2012: Maybe. Seems like an okay idea.
2013: (5 years later, mind you). Ummm. How about in 2 years?
2014: *sigh* Soon.
We are dreamers, we are adventurers, we are live-your-life-to-the-fullest kind of people. And we love it. We love our life, we love our relationship, we love each other so much that it feels like that special kind of love that comes along only once in a lifetime. The kind epic love stories are made of.
We didn’t feel mature enough 10 years ago to think about having kids. We didn’t feel mature enough 5 years ago! And all our friends kept doing (and continue to do) was having kids. What are we missing? we wondered. Why do we feel so differently? Does God have a different plan for us? (Yes, that’s my husband. Posted with permission).
But life happens, you know? We go through these storms that trick us into thinking two things: 1) the storm is here to stay so get comfy in your misery; and 2) we are not nearly as brave as we thought we were. These storms can beat us down pretty good. It gets to be a super-human effort just to live the day-to-day stuff. We feel worn out, exhausted, and that we just can’t take one more day. But we get up and we face it. We go one more day. Then another. Sludging through the storms. Sludging through the anger, grief, frustration, sadness or guilt. Then we go another day, and another and another. And one day we realize, Hey, the rain let up. We wipe our eyes of the cloudiness and fog and see a brand new day, a brand new us. We feel taller, stronger, braver. Maybe we can’t pinpoint it, and maybe there’s no defining moment. Just tears cried and lessons learned. And a whole new bag of tricks we can use on ourselves or a friend in need. But all of a sudden we feel more mature, more ready to face things we once feared, even if they have absolutely nothing to do with the storms themselves.
The storms we’ve faced have nothing to do with parenthood. They’ve just been things that have gotten in the way. Or, rather, things that have shown us the way to where we are now. And though our storms had nothing to do with parenthood, we notice a shift in our thinking. We’re adding kids into the mix. I don’t feel Sam (my 8 month old pup) is a burden, which in my mind is a good step toward motherhood. That I can take care of another living thing and not feel overwhelmed because she needs me to help her eat or play or pee (sometimes within a span of 10 minutes!).
It is because we’ve weathered those storms and we have not felt pressured by family or our age demographic or our church community, we can honestly say that we genuinely want to have a child. We have weathered almost 10 years of a relationship, still like and love each other, have learned from the triumphs and mistakes of others, and we maybe, possibly, kinda-sorta are almost ready to try ourselves. (You see how committed I am to this).
It’ll still be awhile. So for the family who is reading this, you still have to hold your horses and enjoy the kids you currently have in your lives. 🙂 But if you’re someone who has felt guilty for not wanting kids at the same time as the rest of your social circle, don’t sweat it. Been there, done that. Everyone is different. And if you’re paying attention to yourself and the way that you’re changing and evolving, or if you follow Jesus and you’re listening to him on a daily basis, your decision will come in time. I’m not saying there will be a day when you think to yourself, I am 100% ready to have children. Because that’s like saying, I am 100% ready to practice not sleeping ever again. But the desire comes in its own time. You are being shown other things about yourself, about your marriage, about the world you’re living in that might be imperative to your parenting. You don’t want to short-change your kids by having them just because. You want to have made that choice, living fully in a choice you make together.
It won’t be easy. It will be, once again, one storm after another. That I know from watching my friends. But it also will be an adventure. It will be life-giving and joy-inducing. Because not only have we done it for the right reasons, but we’ve weathered enough storms together that a few more seem tolerable, doable even. It will be scary and we will make mistakes. We already know many of our child-rearing theories will go out the window faster than we can change a newborn’s diapers, and we’ll once in a while revert back to 2006 when we hand off the baby to each other in moments of frustration and we’ll say “NOPE. Can’t do it.” But since we can’t go back in time and we’re not the type to give up, we’ll walk through that storm and look forward to the many sunny days I am sure await us in the bittersweet adventure that seems to be parenthood.
*If you’re currently a parent who takes care of your kids on a regular basis, I count you as a superhero. Just FYI.