Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fertility, Feminism and Birthdays, Oh My!


Last week was a happy kind of crazy busy with the presence of a few wonderful guests in our home, so I decided to step away from the blog and just enjoy all the sweet peopleness around me. Now, it's time to get to writing again, and there's just so much to tell, to express, to explain that I'm not sure where to begin!

Do I write about the awesome St. Patrick & St. Joseph feast days party we hosted? Or, how our long-time friend, Elena, brought Nutella into our home, completely changing the way I look at toast and bananas (like, forever!)? Or, how marathon training is a little bit harder at nearly 40 than at 20 (ice packs on the quads post 18 miles)? Or, how my 10 year old son missed going to the Kansas State Wrestling tournament by one match, a match that he forfeited because of our beliefs that boys and girls should not wrestle each-other? Really?? Don't dare me to write about that one, because I will, I will talk openly about why a pre-teen might be a little confused when off the mat it's, "Don't ever be rough with, touch or hurt a girl," but on the mat it's, "sure, buddy, go ahead and grab her across the chest region and don't forget to hold tight between the legs on the take-down." Huhhhh??? Just don't even get me started, because I will rant, and it will go viral, and the Nazi feminist police will be at my doorstep faster than you can say equal rights.

Well, now that that's out there, I think I'll just kick it back with something light, say birthday parties and reproduction?? Sound good?? M-kay....
The "bookend" babies.  Spaghetti faced Charlie cuddles with his favorite big brother, Ben.
My oldest son, Benedict and my youngest son, Charles, are almost exactly 10 years apart.  They missed sharing a birthday by just a few hours.  We celebrated their 12th and 2nd birthdays this weekend, and the honoring of their lives stirred up some unexpected emotions for me.
Benedict getting ready to blow out the candles on his basketball cake, made with K-State purple layers.
Isn't it true that the the mom (usually) does all of the work to plan and prepare for the kids' birthdays?? There's so much to consider, from the cake to the gifts, to the party.  I'm often so focused on making the day special that little time is left to contemplate the person who is special.

Have you ever found yourself in a moment where the events of life are taking place all around you, but you are not even close to being tuned in to what is happening, because your own thoughts are completely commanding your attention?  This was exactly what happened to me over the weekend.

Charlie had just stuffed his tummy to the full with chocolate cake, and now, properly bathed, was delighting in the beautiful spectrum of gifts so lovingly purchased and wrapped by the family.
Who knew tissue paper could be so much fun??
As he shook the loosely tucked tissue paper from the glossy gift bags, I found myself completely immersed in the softness of the light shimmering in his eyes, his curls, his grin.  With his brothers surrounding him, my pride and joy gaze moved from boy to boy, one by one,....and that's when it all began to fade, the voices, the surprise of once hidden delights newly discovered, the laughter, everything, everyone....
I love how each boy takes special care to pick out, wrap and deliver their chosen gift to the birthday brother.
In that very brief, very small space and time, I had an experience that I think I shall never forget. While watching the children bask in the gifts, it was as if I could somehow see directly into the souls of each one of my children.  I was overwhelmed with sheer joy.  It was a special kind of joy, the joy that comes from a supernatural vision of their preciousness, their purity, their sanctity.  I was overwhelmed by a very distinct and rich feeling of love and adoration for them, for who they are as persons, not for what they are or what they can do.  A reminder to me, once again, that our children are not a burden, but a privilege.  It is my privilege to be their mother, to be able to witness and experience the movement and purpose of their lives in this time and place in the world and in history.
In the embrace of the moment, my heart took a swift turn to sadness as I was haunted by the notion that Charlie might just be our last baby (unless we adopt, which is deep in my prayers right now).  More babies, you say? Doesn't she already have 5? I know, I know.  People, it's so hard to put in to words the feelings that being crazy about children can bring, feelings that can only come from entrusting your family and your fertility to the Lord....

So, where I'm going with this is, ladies if you have written baby-making and baby-raising into a precisely preferred time in your scheduled life, you may want to re-think the plan. Plans don't always turn out, no matter how particular and perfected we are in following them.  I never planned on having a big family, and now that  our family is big (by today's standards) I am truly earnest when I say that I want our family to grow! Unfortunately,  I wasn't expecting to have so many health issues at this time in my life, and now that my body is struggling to maintain good health, I'm saddened by the reality that it might not be possible to continue having children (at least one more!).

If you have any desire whatsoever to have a family, don't wait. And, if you are nervous or afraid, that's okay, that's normal, but don't let hold you back from doing what you were born to do.  Bringing a precious life into the world is no small thing, it's an absolutely extraordinary event!  You may not believe or even understand that you have what it takes within you to embrace the sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to endure, even to suffer, but the very moment that precious little miracle enters your womb, that life-giving love will awake within you, and you will know what to do, you will feel it, you will marvel in it, and never look back.  Maybe you can imagine how difficult it can be, but what you can't imagine is just how deep and profound the joy will be.  Only the experience of bringing new life into the world can offer you that. Words cannot express how you will feel. Don't exchange the joy of motherhood for something you think might be more worthwhile, more satisfying.  It won't be.

Job changes, body changes, life changes, yes it will be hard, it will at times feel like too, too much. But,  the sacrifices are never in vain, never without merit, because in essence they really aren't even about you anyway.  They are about the precious little soul you bring into the world, and when you have moments like I had during the birthday, when you can see right into the life of a sweet and precious little soul, you will never remember the cost, you will only remember the love, the blessing, the gift.....a remembrance that may leave you longing for yet another little love.


22 comments:

  1. Great post Susan! Your kids are so precious. And as someone who is in the same position as you, I feel the same way . . . nothing is better than having kids! And it is hard when you want more but it seems God and your body have different plans.

    Oh, and as far as running, I have two words. ICE BATHS. They are a must over 12 miles in my opinion and they are like little miracles on long run days!

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    1. One of my friends, who is a marathon coach, just sent me her ice bath recipe, and I am so happy to have it! I did not anticipate being sore right after the run, but I was. There's definitely a learning curve to this thing!!

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  2. Lovely. I know exactly the feeling you described. Sometimes the mere sight of my children takes my breath away. It's so humbling (and slightly terrifying) when you feel the full weight associated with the realization that God entrusted you with these beautiful, perfect, innocent souls and it is your sole responsibility to raise them up according to His word and will. WOW! I know that if it is in your plan to adopt there will be a clear sign in your future because God isn't always subtle but He is always perfect in His execution. ;) You are AWESOME!

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    1. You are right, God entrusts us, they are His children first. That's a huge concept to wrap our minds and hearts around, isn't it?? Thanks for being here!

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  3. Love this post. I needed to hear every point you just made!

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    1. Thank you, Challie! I am so happy you were here!

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  4. Susan -
    I am going to try and make this short (or I might never stop ranting), but I know exactly what you are talking about in reference to the wrestling. My husband teaches and coaches at a Catholic high school in the Kansas City area and it is a diocesan policy that boys will not wrestle girls...makes sense to me. Recently, as the highschool wrestling team began their journey through regionals to state it was clear that one of our wrestlers who was undefeated was going to have to forfeit a match to a girl. I wondered how this was going to set with this young man. He is a normal teenage boy that loves to compete and was proud of his undefeated record. I have to tell you I was so proud of this young man. He did not get angry, he did not argue about it, he did it with dignity and poise. He was no longer an undefeated wrestler, but he did manage to win his way back up the losers side of the bracket, the young lady was defeated by a wrestler from a public school and he made it to state. It was an interesting situation, but handeled with such grace. I just have to say I would not have my daughter out their wrestling in such a compromising position... Great post!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me, Paula! I read it to my son, Andrew, and he truly felt encouraged by it! The real blessing for Steve and me was that before we even suggested that Andrew not wrestle, he already knew what he had to do, and he told us that he felt it wasn't right in his heart. Can a wrestling medal ever compare in value to a well-formed conscience? Many of the other athletes and coaches think that we are crazy, and do not understand our decisions. But, all for the greater glory of God - we have to be salt and light in a world that is becoming more and more grey every day, even if it's at the expense of trophies, accolades and popularity.

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  5. Lovely post! I second you encouragement not to wait to long! We welcomes three kids pretty fast and furious, but now my health and fertility are not so great at almost 30! I thank God that we didn't wait till life was perfect to have kids... We might not have the 3 we have!

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen for being here! Each baby is so precious, and yours are so blessed to have you for their mommy!

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  6. Susan, thank you. I needed to hear your words today. In God's timing...

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  7. Totally hormonal mama on the verge of delivery here in tears reading those words! YOU ARE SO RIGHT! You.are.so.right. Precious and perfect these little people are, and what a blessing to hold the title MOTHER!

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  8. What a beautiful reflection! Your writing (and your stunning photographs!) make me long for the day when I might get married and have kids of my own. Thank you for sharing.

    Also, that is a fantastic basketball cake!

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  9. Gorgeous pics, blog, everything! Visiting from Theme Thursday, I will have to come back and read more!

    Had to comment on the wresting. My sons have also forfeited matches because of this, and the coaches always seem dumbfounded. I can't even begin to list the reasons this is absolutely insane. So glad to hear of another family with this policy and willingness to stand your ground even when the stakes are very high. The lesson your son learned from that forfeit will stick with him forever.

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    1. And I don't think it's a coincidence that this wrestling story was mentioned in conjunction with St. Joseph's feast day. What an amazing glimpse to good St. Joseph's life can be seen. Your son is being raised to treat women as different, but no less dignified as men. Your son is being taught that it is never ok to treat a woman's body as an object to be subdued. Your son is learning that what we do with our bodies matter, and he had to sacrifice in that lesson. So much like St. Joseph, who had to sacrifice to show Our Lady the awesome respect due her.

      Thanks for linking up. The pictures and the post are great.

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  10. Happy birthday to your two gorgeous boys! I really love everything you shared here. Keep teaching your boys well. It gives me hope that my daughters will meet and marry good men like them when the time comes.

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  11. 5 boys!! I can relate! I only have 3 but my daughter really doesnt count because she grew up with all boys and so she sorta is a boy because she can sword fight better then her bros.

    I agree with the don't wait part. Even though I was blessed with a little one at the age of 41, I am glad I didn't wait because I would have missed the other 4 souls that have given me so much love.

    I pray for your health and pray you can hold one more babe.

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  12. Wow - you wrote about so many heartfelt things, and you know what the thing is that I want to comment on? The cake. Awesome! I feel kinda small saying it, in light of everything else you mentioned, but I love special cakes like that and I have a soft spot for K-State. I never went there, but the MACHS teams were always fun to compete against. :-)

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  13. Lovely! And what gorgeous photos of your boys!

    Thanks for linking up with the Tuesday Baby Link-Up! :)

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  14. I LOVE what you wrote in your last paragraph. You are so right! Beautiful thoughts.

    Thanks for linking up at The Tuesday Baby Link Up!

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  15. Exactly! We can try to plan our lives to a "T", but, ultimately, it's all in God's hands. Children are such a blessing and I would hate to put it off until it's too late...

    "So, where I'm going with this is, ladies if you have written baby-making and baby-raising into a precisely preferred time in your scheduled life, you may want to re-think the plan. Plans don't always turn out, no matter how particular and perfected we are in following them."

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