When I set out to work in my field, I had every intention of working my way to the top as quickly as possible. Craig and I hadn't intended to have any children (I'm sure God has slapped His knee and had a hearty laugh over that one!) so we would give everything to our respective jobs to make as much money as possible so we could have lots of fun vacations and cool toys.
Having more than two children...depending on where in your timeline you have them...limits options in the professional realm. When it comes to the industry I am in, there's a decision to pursue advancement or have a family that seems to take place all the time. I have accepted the fact that I made the decision to be open to a larger family and that has limited my professional opportunities. As a matter of fact, I have retreated and sometimes simply side-stepped in my "career" (for lack of a better term) in order to ensure I can balance my family commitments and work commitments in such a way that I can be fairly happy with both.
I feel like I make that decision to pursue professional opportunities or pursue my family over and over again. The more children I have, the more the decision has been in favor of family.
There is a part of me that wonders if I might have ever reached the professional heights I started out seeking had I never married and had children. -----Because, you know, I might have had a wreck of a career anyway.
I feel like I go in phases with where my thinking leads on this stuff. Sometimes I am jealous of those folks who have their one or two or three kids and say, "Enough! I have had enough children! I am going to move forward and know that I am DONE!" (DONE referring to the having children thing) Other times, I am bewildered by those folks. Internally, I ask, "how can you KNOW? I mean, for sure. Like even when you know....how do you know you're right about that?"
There is this part of me that wonders if I will ever feel the finality of childbearing...before the physical reality of menopause hits. -----Because, you know, I might not ever be ready to be done. What then?
I guess what I do know is this: Having children changed what I valued. Over the years, baby smiles, First Communions, Christmas mornings, days at the park, sharing books, and ball games and practices have all proved to be greater than a spot in the board room, overtime and networking.
Over time, and through my reversion and the precedence my relationship with God has taken in my life, I have come to value gifts from God in the form of eternal, irresistable, goodness (those irresistable souls of my children!) over money, prestige and material importance.
Further, the idea of being done receiving eternal souls entrusted to us by our Heavenly Father, continues to feel elusive. There are times I pray that I could receive such a sense of surety about the matter. And others, where I believe I will feel sad to receive that surety. Because let's face it: the day will come when I am no longer able to conceive, carry and bear a child -- God, in His infinite goodness and mercy, worked it out that way.
Sometimes I feel like the one-who-is-opposed-to-everything-God (Satan, himself) knows how to prey on my weaknesses; my insecurities. The devil points to my house or to our van and he says, "See, you don't have any room. Would you make all your girls share a room again?!? And...you'd have to buy a new car if you had another baby."
And the devil points to my lack of savings and says, "See, you don't have any money saved. You can't afford another baby."
And the devil points to my hectic schedule and says, "See, you don't have enough time for the children you have now...why do you think you could ever handle another?"
But then I wonder...why do these ideas have to be the bad ones? Just because I feel weak?
But then I try to view these things through the heart of Jesus. And I think Jesus might say, "Yes, you might need a different vehicle, but would it really kill you if you had to drive two vehicles to Grandma's house?" Or even, "If you need a different vehicle, it will happen, just maybe not in the form that you thought it would."
Jesus might look at my lack of savings and remind me, "Blessed are the poor." And Jesus might point out that our bills are paid, and no we're not rolling in money, but we have what we need.
As for my schedule, instead of pointing out what I think I may not be able to do for my children, Jesus might point out that my children benefit from having both parents involved as much as we are. They get to see their father after school and before he goes off to work and then have their mother to tuck them into bed. Jesus might point out that I have time to coach volleyball and read with my children. And Jesus might also point out that as siblings, my children obtain benefits I cannot measure as their mother. I can pull from my own sibling relationships to see there is value in those that cannot be found in the parental relationships.
But then I wonder...why do I think these are the good thoughts and not the evil ones? You see, sometimes I wonder if I am ordering my thoughts to MY wishes and desires instead of truly seeking what God wants.
A wise man once gave me the advice that should Craig and I ever feel that we are "done" having children, as the world views it, we should take that feeling with us into prayer, in front of the blessed sacrament and also have a talk with a good priest about the issue.
I'm experienced enough to know that whatever I am feeling right now about this topic is really not to be trusted as I am in the throes of new-babydom since Vincent is just over 6 months old. It's a tricky time to be deciding anything for sure.
But yet, there's the pressure to decide. Sometimes, the rewards of the eternal are difficult to embrace in the face of the immediate, material sacrifices.
And so I continue to pray that at the very least, my husband and I can stay close to the same page with regards to the future and to what blessings we remain open.
And I pray for the wisdom to recognize God's call - whether it be to postpone or pursue His Supreme Blessings.
And I even pray for the grace to understand and the courage to accept that God's call may be to proceed indefinitely as we are - with the trust that we are complete - a family of seven.
Would you please pray for me through this process?