Jen at Denton Sanatorium has asked her readers if they will share the stories of how their families came to have the number of children that they have. This is the type of story that could become overwhelming with details, so I'll try to condense it the best I can.
I've always wanted to be a mom. Always. I was the oldest child with 2 younger sisters. I was the oldest cousin on both sides of my family. I started babysitting when I was 11. I was drawn to children. I had a lot of experience with children. And, I went to college to become...you guessed it...a teacher. I graduated from college with a degree in elementary/ early childhood education in 1992.
When I was in junior high I remember thinking that I'd have 12 children. I even had names chosen for all of them.
I also imagined I'd be married young. I wanted to be married young. But, I was a late bloomer to say the least. I didn't even have my first date until I was in college. I really, really wanted to fall in love. And, I guess I did (or at least, in infatuation) over and over. But, the guys I was meeting didn't seem to be interested in committment and certainly not in marriage.
I'm not going to segue into my testimony here because that's a whole other post in and of itself. But I will say that, after I graduated from college and got my first job I finally moved into my own place (I commuted from home during college) and I entered into a fairly dark time during my 20's that involved a lot of poor choices on my part.
Needless to say I didn't meet the man who was to become my husband until I was 28...and I wasn't sure if we were meant to be more than friends at first. Shortly after we met he left for a year long missions trip to Kenya. We communicated by letter and e-mail and started dating seriously when he returned. We married in September 2001. When I got married I was only 2 months away from turning 31.
We talked about children during our engagement. We both knew we wanted a fairly large family. We joked that half a dozen seemed about right.
I felt my biological clock ticking big time and was anxious to start trying for a family early in our marriage. (Did I mention that my husband is almost 4 years younger than me? Oh, and men don't have biological clocks. Still, he was on board.) I knew that it can take time to get pregnant so I figured we should get started. Plus, I had some concerns about my fertility. Around our 1 year anniversary we began to officially try for a baby...and got pregnant immediately. Go figure.
Wyatt was born in June 2003 when I was 32. When he turned a year old I wanted to start trying for another baby. We got pregnant immediately.
Edison was born in March 2005 when I was 34. I had some major post partum depression following Edison's birth and it lasted for probably a year and a half. I had a really difficult time adjusting to having 2 children to care for. I was pretty miserable.
When the fog started to lift, that desire for another baby returned. When Edison was 2 we started trying and shortly thereafter became pregnant.
Charlie was born in November 2007 when I was 37 ( he came 2 days after my birthday).
The story could have ended here. Having 3 boys under the age of 5 was challenging. It was work. Even though I didn't suffer from depression like I did after my second son was born, I was getting tired. My husband was pretty much content with the three boys that we had.
But, I felt like there was another child who was supposed to be there. At times I'd be loading the children in the van and have the sense that I needed to go back in the house to get another one. Or, the boys would be playing downstairs and I felt like there was another baby sleeping upstairs.
John and I started talking about having another one. He was hesitant. He knew that I struggled sometimes with the 3 we had. And, I think in some ways he was anxious for a time when my time and attention wasn't in so much demand from our children. As he said, 'he wanted his wife back.'
Around the time we were starting to think we might try for one more, we found out we were pregnant. And, so, Joseph was born in 2009 when I was 39.
You know how I have the little story on my sidebar under my profile about how I saw the neighbor's boys and thought it would be cool to have stairstep boys of my own? Never in my life did I imagine I would be the mother to all boys! As a matter of fact, in that little anecdote, that was probably the first time I really considered what it might be like to have boys. I always pictured myself as a mother to daughters.
Yet there are no girls in this household. So, people ask if we'll try again for a girl. No. If we were going to have another child, it would be because we were meant to have another child...not because we were trying for a certain gender. Oh, I'll admit, there's a part of me that thinks if we have one more maybe we'd have a girl.
But, we're done. At least my husband is done. I'm mostly done. My body is tired. I turn 40 in 3 days. I'm worn out. There's still a part of me that thinks...'maybe we could have one more'. I love being pregnant. I love giving birth (is that weird?). I love my children. But, I also want to give my full attention to the children that I have and be the best mother I can be to them.
I actually sometimes feel guilty about having as many as we do have. How can I give them each the time and attention that they need from me? I feel pulled in a million directions. I even sometimes wonder what it would be like if I'd had one or two instead of four.
I also sometimes go down the road of 'If I'd gotten married younger' I'd have had more children. But why go down that road? That's not the way life happened.
Here's the thing - God has given us four boys. Boys that we have the privilege of raising. Boys who I want first and foremost to love, honor, and serve God. Are there more children in store for us? Biological? Foster? Adopted? (We've considered the possibility of adopting a little girl sometime in the future). I don't know. Only God knows.
At this point we think our family is complete. We trust that God holds our lives and the lives of our children in His loving hands. And we know that His grace is sufficient!
Ok so that ended up being really long....so much for the condensed version!