Miracle of all miracles, my husband just fit ALL of our vacation luggage into ONE vehicle!!! We thought it was going to have to be two and I prayed it wasn’t so. Not only am I thoroughly exhausted from all the packing and preparing and stressing over how much work the vacation itself will actually be, but the thought that I might not even be able to nod off on the ride up was almost more than I could bear… But now I can rejoice about that one thing! And that one thing matters as I am learning to appreciate all little things that can be considered a positive for my sanity.
This summer looks different than I expected it to look. But really, it looks strikingly familiar. This was supposed to be the first summer in seven summers (yes, SEVEN!) that I wasn’t pregnant or nursing. It is now the eighth summer in a row that my body is serving another human being. We weren’t supposed to have to pack baby items for vacation anymore. I wasn’t supposed to be lugging around an infant carrier. I was supposed to be wearing trendy tops and cute bathing suits instead of nursing camis and flowing shirts that attempt to hide my 2-month post-partum pudge. (Okay, so that one might not be totally dependent on a baby. I can admit that my body might not have been where I wanted it to be, baby or not, but it could have!) I was supposed to be relaxing and just enjoying my kids without timing feedings or trying to snag a nap whenever possible. I was supposed to be happy. Well, more happy. (Post-partum hormones can be a real kill-joy. It’s not something I’ve needed to manage with medication, but there’s absolutely no shame in that and it has been something my husband and I have considered.) Once I identified my emotions as more of an anxiety rather than depression and a desire to meet my own (unreasonable) expectations, they’ve been way easier to manage.*
We always planned to have four children, with the possibility of adoption down the road. And after having four unpleasant pregnancies, I was more than happy to announce to everyone that we were D-O-N-E. Done! “Fourth and final!” “Four, no more!” “If we do have any more children, they won’t be coming out of me, that’s for sure!”
You’ve heard the saying, “We plan, God laughs.” I always thought I was very aware that God’s plan for my life might not be my plan. I never planned to marry the “type” of man I married, but am everyday more grateful that I did! I never planned to live where I live or own a multi-family house. I never planned to homeschool. And when people ask me how long I plan to do it, I’m more than comfortable to answer, “However long God wants me to!” So why did I think my family plan was any different? Perhaps because we never struggled with infertility it never crossed my mind that God might have a different number of children in mind for us. I’m sure I would’ve been more aware of that if getting pregnant was difficult. I certainly didn’t think it would happen when it wasn’t “supposed to.”
But there it was, that “positive” pink stick. And one of the first things I thought was that my summer of 2019 was ruined. “My beach days are gone!” “Will I ever be able to leave the house with my kids again?!” And I grieved. It might seem crazy, insane, and unnatural to grieve something gained–we were gaining another child! Praise the Lord! But I had lost my plan. My grand plan. How I had looked forward to my first “free” summer. How I relished the idea that homeschooling would soon be just about my child students and not about coordinating nap schedules and interrupting toddlers. I couldn’t wait to have all my kids potty trained, to take all the cool field trips without babies in tow, and to lose the diaper bag (and replace it with an awesome purse). And though those things aren’t gone, they’re further away. And our idea of adoption some day was now in question. We used to use our van to give rides to people–I could bring a single mom and her son to church every Sunday and we did for a time. Now every. single. seat. is full.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions to one’s ‘own’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life–the life God is sending one day by day.” – C.S. Lewis
I happened upon this quote in a book, Teaching from Rest, after I discovered I was pregnant and it resonated with me. I don’t mean to say that my baby is an “unpleasant thing”, (seriously, I can’t imagine my life without Logan now–he is the sweetest thing!) but the news of my pregnancy and the loss of my own plans was unpleasant for me, to say the least. But this helped me realize that though I had my own plans, God clearly never intended me to be a mother of four (not counting a previous miscarriage). He was not surprised at all about my positive pregnancy test. His plans were not my plans. He sent us Logan. Little, wonderful, adorable Logan. Even up until the last week of my pregnancy I struggled with wondering if I’d even want to hold him. I had to sort through some tough emotions. And now, I don’t like putting him down. He’s a part of our family, where he belongs.
God is teaching me so much through becoming a family of seven. And that C.S. Lewis quote becomes especially applicable when one of my little cherubs (the fussy one-year-old who is struggling with the “loss” of some mommy-time and less sleep now that he’s in a big-boy bed, the strong-willed three-year-old who is ever trying my patience, the curious 6-year-old who has too many questions than I know how to answer, the helpful, responsible, yet comes-with-an-attitude-of-a-teenager almost 8-year-old, or the newborn: our newest and very sweet family member who truly needs Mommy 24/7) “interrupts” what I thought my day would look like. My days are not well-planned right now. We’re in, what I call, “survival mode” and I am just passing the time, or “running out the clock” in some ways until the end of the day. But this is where God meets me.
This summer does not look like I thought it would, but there have already been many moments to treasure. This summer looks drastically different from what I hoped it would, but it also looks the same as always. We went out to dinner at a casual-dining restaurant tonight, all seven of us, and it was a fun time, just like always. And we’re taking one vehicle on vacation this year, just like always.
Getting quality time with the other four… pictured here is mini-golf with the older two and playground time with the younger ones… is something I cherish!
*If you have struggled or are struggling with PPD, I have a great resource and counselor to recommend! Please reach out!