"So, are you done yet??"
I get this question a lot....a LOT. Mostly from perfect strangers. You know, the ones who feel the need to shout it out down the check out lanes at Target, or out in a parking lot while they hold their fashion encapsulated pooches. It's always a great "get to know ya" question that waiters in restaurants often pose, the ones who can't believe we're not running a day care, the ones who cannot hide the fear that our little devils might spill a cup of water or drop a nugget on the floor, (God forbid) that would have to be cleaned up.
The question doesn't bother me as much as it used to, I've learned to roll with it. What bothers me, is that no one really wants to hear an honest answer. They want a short "yes" or "no." What I've come to realize is that the poor folks have no idea that they've just asked a very personal question. Their candidness can only lead me to assume that they believe either:
1. My fertility adventures should be made public knowledge or
2. They are weighing out my intellectual capacities vs. my ability to reason, so therefore they can walk away loathing my ignorance, (even better) or out of charity whip out a population chart from their "save the planet" stash, hoping I'll have the time and attention span to pay attention to their lecture while my toddler repetitively rams the back of my legs with the shopping cart.
Either way, the question is out there, and I keep thinking that there's got to be an honest, succinct way to summarize my thoughts and feelings for these people. I've tried diverting the questions back on them. You know, since we're on a personal level and all. But, they typically don't appreciate having to answer how much they weigh or how much money is in their bank account (Okay, I don't really ever ask that, but I'd like to). If that's not public information by now it soon will be, given our current administration.
I really didn't intend for this post to read frustration, or mommy-snark. My intent with the first few paragraphs was to introduce what I'd LIKE to say (if there was time) to every person who has ever asked me (whether out of complete condescension or innocent curiosity) if Steve and I are done having children.
Here's my answer (grab your coffee, this will take a minute):
With the addition of each precious soul to our family, I am always in awe of God's grace working within Steve and I, expanding our perspectives, stretching our hearts to greater depths in the way of charity and love.
This special grace cannot be contained within us, it is not ours alone. It naturally spills out into the children as they too have learned to love each new sibling as they have joined our family, a love that is nurtured each day through both the naturalness of affection and joy as well as through their effort to work out the challenges of overcoming their own self-centeredness.
Desiring and being open to having a "big" family (more than three kids) isn't a popular plan for most couples. And I want to be careful to communicate my aim with this portion of the post, which is NOT to debate family size, or to stand on a theological soapbox, or to sound insensitive to those who are unable to have children (they really are the most noble of us all), but rather to say that all of the fear, the waves of doubt and the nervousness that have naturally arisen with giving life to 5 children, for us, cannot be compared to the richness and rewards that have been heaped upon Steve and I in our openness to life.
Even in the midst of the real daily struggles, of raw emotion, of flooding tears, disappointments and exhausting sacrifice we still LIVE the beauty. Yes, hidden behind the heaps of laundry, sleepless nights, marked up furniture and broken dishes, not to mention financial sacrifice and social rejection, there is beauty.
So, now for the short answer? No, no we are not "done." One day my physical nature will give into time and I will indeed be "done" having children. But, my soul, the part of me that really LIVES all this beauty will never truly be done.