I write this post for two reasons: 1) to set the record straight and 2) as a warning to all my younger readers, under say 30 years of age.
Dear young friends, please understand that any future thoughts and plans you may have now will be held as the standard for your success and will be held back to you as a mirror in the future. What? Let me expound.
If you now, at say 18, say that some day you want to live in a blue house with green shutters, some one in your life will remember that. And if, let’s say, you turn 30 and find yourself looking to buy a house and fall in love with a white house with pink shutters some one will remind you that you have failed because you “settled” for a house that wasn’t your dream house. Now, it doesn’t matter if your tastes and opinions have changed. It only matters that you once wanted one thing and have apparently settled for less, or different. And probably, it’s some one else’s fault. Someone made you give up your dream of a blue house with green shutters because they thought a white house with pink shutters was better for you.
I know. What the heck is she talking about? She has flipped her lid. Probably. But I want to tell you a little story about my real life dream change that landed me in a white house with pink shutters (metaphorically speaking, my house is neither white nor does it have any shutters).
You see, when I was young and dating this young guy around 17 or 18 years of age, we talked about how many children we wanted to have. We were madly in love and were destined to marry. Fortunately for me, it was true and we did marry. Anyway, I wanted 2 kids. I had plans of a career. My life was planned out. I’d go to college, then marry this dark eyed knight of mine and get a job teaching first grade. I’d have two kids.
But this sweetheart of mine pictured a larger family. Six kids to be exact. We talked and discussed and chatted and, like good relationships do, we came to a compromise that suited both our desires and seemed to fit our family style. By the time I was settled in my career we had agreed upon 4 kids. We liked the idea of a large family and yet, with my teaching career, we would not feasibly be able to have more than 4. But 4 is a big family and we were set.
Then a surprise happened. Months after returning to the job I loved after the birth of my second child, I realized that I really wanted to stay home with my children. It was another year and a half before we could make that happen.
Shortly after quitting my job, I started on the plan to enlarge our family, figuring that I’d have 2 more close together like my first two and be back to my job when the youngest was in kindergarten in 5 or 6 years.
Then another odd thing happened. I decided I wanted to homeschool. My oldest was showing signs of academic struggles to come and I felt that homeschool was the best plan for him. Then another thing happened, I found myself expecting our 5th child.
Surprised and thrilled, we moved forward with our new dream, a larger family, homeschooling and searching for a larger home.
Time goes by. Priorities change. I had thought my family was complete with 5 kids. But after a couple of years, we began to discuss the “finalizing” of our family. Neither of us felt that we were certain we were finished with 5. Thus came the little straggler, the 6th child. Our delightful little guy who has allowed us to enjoy the little years in a way we couldn’t do with the first few, when we were so overwhelmed with careers, lots of little kids, and stresses. And it has been a true joy having this little guy at this stage. Those of you who have had children later, after your first set left the preschool years, can attest. It is a different joy.
Now I find myself pregnant with number 7. Everyone wants to remind me that I only wanted 2. That I said I was done with 4. That I said 5 was good. And that I said I was pretty sure 6 was it. Because in any other area of life, we are allowed to change our minds. We can find a new favorite restaurant. We can decide capris aren’t as stupid looking as we once thought. But if we decide we want more children, suddenly there is something wrong. We’ve been brainwashed, hoodwinked, forced or whatever.
Why am I having a seventh baby? Because we could not decide that we were certain we would never regret being finished at six. Because we love being parents. Because we see raising children as truly the highest calling from God.
So, for the record, I am a smart, literate, well educated, well informed, able bodied and clear minded woman. I have chosen to have a large family. I have chosen to give up one dream for another. I believe it is important for my children to be raised by parents committed to that purpose. For me, that looks like a stay at home mom homeschooling her children with the love and support of a husband/father who desires the best for mom and children, who gives up his dreams to raise Godly children. And I find more joy in raising my children than I ever thought possible and than I ever did in my career.
I don’t care if I used to think a happy family looked like a full time working mom, working dad and two kids. Now, my life is full of joy and delight as we anticipate the birth of our 7th child. And I say, I’m getting pretty old, I think 7 will be a good family size for us. I guess we will see.