Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Not Being a Mother is Bringing Me Closer to God

For me, the hardest part of every blog post is the blank page, and the war that goes on in my head between what I want to say and what I don't want everyone else to read. Because who wants to air out all their secrets and their dirty laundry on the clothesline of the internet? But there are times when I just have to close my eyes and pretend no one is reading and write it all down anyway, because this is my story and I want to remember.

I don't remember being little and carrying around baby dolls, although my mom would probably tell you that I did. I do remember playing "mom" with my real life baby dolls, my little brothers. I was changing diapers and babysitting for the neighbors' kids on a regular basis long before I hit middle school, and I loved it. I remember volunteering for church nursery and checking out every book our library had on international adoption and playing with babies during my brothers' baseball games so their moms could relax.

And in college there was one psychology class where we were asked to write about our dream job, and I thought I was going to fail the assignment, but in a moment of brutal honesty I wrote that all I've ever wanted was to be a mom.

Now I find myself three and a half years into marriage and approaching my thirties with more speed than I would have imagined. This is the time of life when most twenty somethings start trying to have kids. In fact, almost all of our friends already have at least one kid, and some of them are on their second (or third or fourth) baby. This is the time when most (usually well-meaning) adults will start to wonder to themselves or whisper when you leave the room, or even ask you straight outright, "When are you two going to start having kids?"

As if it's something that people just stumble upon like picking up seashells at the beach.

For us, kids aren't in the cards right now. And I don't know when they will be. That is something that has been such a struggle for me to wrap my head around these last two years. See, back in 2012, we thought we were ready. We started trying to have a baby, and I actually did get pregnant. But we never made it to that first doctor's appointment before I lost the baby. When I went to the doctor they found a large tumor on my left ovary. Later that year I had another tumor removed and they found endometriosis that for whatever reason wasn't able to be removed. But the reason we aren't trying to have kids is more than medical.

(And just to throw out my personal opinion, you should need a medical reason to tell people why you don't have kids yet.)

Robby's in graduate school, and we are trying to do this lovely adventure debt-free. It's taking up way more than its fair share of our time, and our paychecks, and our good moods (ha!). On top of all that, as if it wasn't reason enough, is that Robby's not quite ready for kids right now. The reasons are his own, and I'm not mad or bitter about it, we are just in different places. I'm sure he would be happy if we found out we were having a baby, but I don't want him to feel like he's pressured or forced into anything, because that would be a crappy way to welcome home a new baby.

The other day I was listening to the radio, and the guy was talking about being able to trust God. I had the horrible thought that I knew God was trustworthy, but that I didn't know if this was something I would be able to trust Him with forever. I've been struggling with trusting Him with this day by day, minute by minute.
It seemed like too much to even imagine being ten or twenty or thirty years down the road and not having kids, and trusting Him enough to be ok with that. Maybe that sounds melodramatic, but we are talking about my deepest desire.

But God is so faithful. He's been giving me glimpses of how wonderful life can still be without kids. I'm still hoping that this phase of life isn't going to last forever, and that one day we will have one or two or even a whole bunch of kids. But I'm realizing that even if that never happens, this life I have been blessed with is still sweet. There are moments when I truly enjoy being able to sleep in late or do whatever I want, and moments when I enjoy loving on someone else's baby and then going home empty handed. It's slower paced, and my house is usually quiet.

Sometimes my heart hurts because it feels like something is missing, but God's using that to drive me to Him. I don't think my dependence on Him would be as hard fought or that my prayer journal would be as worn thin. I don't think that my prayers would be as earnest or that I would have nearly as much time to give to others. I am afraid that if I had kids right now, He wouldn't be using me in the specific ways that He's been using me lately. I wouldn't have extra time to make meals for all these people I know who need a little extra blessing. I wouldn't have had a closet full of baby clothes and toys to give away freely last week to a mom in need.

I'm even starting to see the bigger picture of how God's using the hard stuff that we went through a few years ago as a platform to build some amazing stuff. I don't know how my life would be different if we already had kids, but I'm tired of feeling like I'm missing out because I'm the only one who isn't talking about breastfeeding or car seats or feeding schedules. I'm choosing instead to be thankful for what I have right now, and for how awesome it can be.

Because really, it's not honk if you are happy, it's honk to be happy.

“Give thanks IF you are happy” is in reality:
If you want to be happy — give thanks.”
Giving thanks is what gets you joy. 

-Ann Voskamp


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