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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who Gets to Decide when Enough is Enough?

The last line of this post is:

WE DO!!!

When I told an aunt that we were expecting our third child, she asked me if I was crazy.  (You know who you are.)  I was hurt by that statement a little, but tried to understand where she was coming from.  In between the birth of one and two, my grandad (then 91) came to live with us.  The month after number two was born, we sold our house, moved into a rental property in Bloomington while Brian started a new job and we broke ground on a new house specifically designed for our multi-generational needs.  Chase was about five months old and we were only a month away from moving into our new house, when we found out we were expecting our third, very PLANNED, baby.

I remember reading where someone asked a well-known child psychologist how soon they should have another baby and how many is too many.  He went through this whole spiel about ages of kids and sibling rivalry and he'd argue one side and then argue another.  He finally ended with, "It really falls on the health and well being of the current family unit."  What he was getting at is there is no set answer.  Is Mom healthy and content?  Do the other children have special needs?  Is Dad in agreement?  Is there constant turmoil or a general feeling of balance and well being?

Fast forward to about three months ago when Brian was just making conversation in the car about an article he read on gender selection.  Grandaddy heard the word pregnant and I looked at him and reassured, "No, I'm not pregnant."

He clapped his hands.

I wasn't just hurt a little, I was deeply hurt and almost angry.  (I don't get angry at my Grandad too often.)  I had known for a while that he wasn't crazy about me having more kids and even then I politely reminded him that it wasn't his decision.  He knew he hit a nerve that day and he cornered me when we got home.

He said, "Kris, I know you think I'm buttin' in where I shouldn't and I don't mean to.  But I've seen you so tired at the end of the day, you could hardly move.  I don't want you to lose your health."  He went on to say some other silly things about how I'd lose my "good looks,", but I couldn't get those words out of my head...."so tired at the end of the day."

To give you a little background, you should know that my birth mother, his only child, died when I was three.  I'm the youngest of three and my brother was only 12 months older.  He hasn't said, but I wonder if he thinks having three so close together contributed to her death.  It was a blood clot that moved to her heart, so I don't think it's related, but still, it's his heart that was broken all those years ago and I guess if he thinks he can prevent it again, he'll try.

He said, " tired at the end of the day," as if that were the main reason for no more kids. First I wondered, "Doesn't he think I'm a good mom?"  But I know better.  He compliments me, in his own way, about the kids and my interaction with them.  

My job in this season of life is ....well, "stay at home mom" just doesn't seem to cut it.  I don't think I'm busier than anyone else or have a tougher life than anyone else, but that term encompasses so much more than those few little words.  I never knew until I had my kids what my passion was in life.  I did pretty well in school. I worked hard at my jobs. But I never had a passion for the classes or the tasks of the day.

I LOVE my current job.  It's hard.  It's challenging and sometimes very frustrating.  And, yes, it can be very tiring.  But Grandaddy worked forty years as a crane operator.  Wasn't he tired at the end of many days?  Brian comes home from an office job and is tired.  Anyone who works hard at what they do, will be tired on some days.  That's not a bad thing!  It means you've poured your heart and soul into what you're called to do on that given day.  Exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

I wouldn't change my life right now for anything.  I love being with my kids and being a central part of their lives for this season of life.  To see their faces when they discover something new, to watch them interact with each other and their great-grandaddy, to teach them how to love each other and their friends -- all those things are a gift beyond anything I could've ever even had the wisdom to ask for.  I can't wait to see what they'll be like as young adults and as parents themselves. What will they decide to do with their lives?  It's such an awesome, mind-blowing and yes, sometimes daunting, jaw-dropping responsibility.  But mostly, it's magnificent.  Tiring at the end of some days, but magnificent nonetheless.   

No, I'm not pregnant.  (For some of you, I probably should've started with that.)  But with as much pressure as I have in my family, in my own house even, about when "enough is enough", I wanted to share my thoughts.  You get to decide for your family.  But in our family, you know who gets to decide when enough is enough?

We do!

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  1. God bless you! You are so right.

    We have five children, and I am amazed that even perfect strangers will say, "you must be done now" when they hear how many we've got. Our kids are 10, 6, 5 (14months apart), 3, and 10 months. And - our eldest has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

    It's crazy, loud, busy, tiring, and often frustrating. But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Praying for you as your family decides for itself. And praying that those who are tempted to comment, criticze, suggest (or whatever they may call it) will use wisdom and keep their opinions to themselves.

    As Thumper said, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

  2. i'm sorta new to your blog so i hesitate to speak up, but this was such an amazing, truthful, honest REAL post! way to speak from your heart.

    i do want to say this: what if your mom had not decided to have you? poor grandpa, i know he means well for you probably. but it sounds like life could be drastically different if you had not come along!

    families and children are ALWAYS a blessing no matter their size, number or gender. i'm proud of you for speaking up!!!

  3. Okay as the "Great Aunt Mandy" I just want you to know that there is always enough room in my bed for naps for more little when I come to visit I might need more naps because of the little bodies but I would love every minute of play! If I took over 175 pictures in this last visit can you imagine with more subjects??? Point being that I support you either way.