Mother’s Day for the Childless

Mother’s Day is such a beautiful day.  This year’s mother’s day is crammed full of children and music, baby dedications, rejoicing with families and praying with families.

But, this year.  This year is hard.

My mother lives across the country.  I can call and send a card, but she isn’t here for me to serve Sunday dinner to in our dining room.

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My grandmothers have been gone for many years, and were gone for years before they were actually gone.  I’ve never met most of the women in my extended family.

But mostly, this year is hard because I am not a mother.  I am thirty, and I am not a mother.

As the months go on, my heart yearns more and more for the children we don’t have. It feels…empty.  Empty because I don’t have a sweet little thing to cuddle, or to run up into my arms after Sunday School, or anyone to just say, “I love you, Mama.”  It feels like something is missing.

Being around children as much as I am, I know it isn’t all butterflies and perfection.  I also know it is worth all of the trials and heartache.  If it weren’t, we certainly wouldn’t celebrate Mother’s Day.

On my way home from a business trip earlier this week, I had plenty of time to think.  I was thinking about how hard it was not to cry when a sweet gentleman asked me if we had children and I could barely choke out an answer, right there in his basement print-shop. Crying at the drop of a hat isn’t usually a good way to handle things, so while I was stuck in the car, I began to ask God to help me change my perspective get a grip.

I realized that I have been given a beautiful gift to be able to desire children so deeply before we have them.  So many women do not have these feelings in their hearts when they discover they are soon to be a mother.  So many women dread hearing the words, or worse–hate hearing the words–that tell them they are expecting.  I have a beautiful gift in knowing that, for whatever reasons He has, God has given me time to have a heart that is as fully prepared as a heart can be, and a faith that is so much stronger than it was even a year ago.

Mother’s Day for the childless at our house means I get one more practice run.  I get to hug fifty other children and be their music teacher when they sing for their Mamas on Mother’s Day morning.  I get to desire children even more deeply  than I did last week before they come to us.  Our marriage gets to grow even stronger before we have to care for  little lives.  I get to have a stronger faith as God continues to remind me that his plans are absolutely perfect, even when the pieces I can see are hard to understand.

This Mother’s Day, my prayer for the childless woman, is that we daily seek God’s perspective–especially on the hardest days.  I believe that the more we work toward shifting our focus to His perspective, the more we will gain the wisdom and peace that will never come from focusing on the emotions that seek to tear us down in the present.

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”  Luke 1:42

 

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Why We Don’t Have Kids

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I have crocheted more pairs of baby booties than I can count since we moved to Georgia, and loved on more sweet bundles of joy than I ever have in my life.  It’s no wonder that the thought of children is never far from my mind.

In the urban area I work in, it seems completely normal for a married couple to be childless in their twenties .  People tend to get married later, and wait to have children until well into their thirties.  They typically have small families–two or three children–and four children is considered a big family.  In the rural area where we live, however, young people still tend to get married early, settle down early, and have children early.  The families can be quite large–seven and eight children is considered normal.  In fact, in our church, I am fairly certain that we are the oldest married couple without children.  And by oldest, I mean we are both 29 (not for long, but that’s beside the point).

In the town where I work, I don’t usually feel out of place for not being a part of the “mom club.”  In the town where I live, though, I sometimes feel like I’m on the outside looking in at the rest of the young women, whose lives are centered around babies, baby things, baby conversations, jokes about raising children…all of the beautiful pieces of that life.  Most of the time, I love these conversations!  They are funny, educational, and just good girl talk.  There are days, though, where I wish I weren’t sitting on the other end without anything to add to the conversation.  Sure, I can add words of encouragement or discernment, but I can’t add any stories of my own.  On those days, my heart grieves for the children we don’t have.

Many people get the idea that we don’t have children because I’ve chosen a career over children.  If they really knew me, they would know that this is about as far from the truth as it can be.  Don’t misunderstand me, I love my job, and I am thankful that I have it, but having a job doesn’t mean I’ve chosen to not have other things.  Others will say, “well, they are just being smart and waiting.”  Here is the truth:  My greatest desire in life is to raise up children in our home, as God would have us raise them.  We are not “waiting” as some see it.   So, why no kids?

I’ve struggled with that question for a long time.  I used to think that maybe it was because we weren’t being good enough followers of Christ.  Well, if that were true, then none of us would be having any children.  We all fall short of the mark.  Thank goodness for God’s Grace on our lives.  Other possible issues were ruled out, which I won’t go into, since I’m a little old-fashioned.  Finally, after a teary-eyed conversation after Sunday School one day, my husband reminded me of the Truth.  There is Truth in why he and I do not have children yet.

He reminded me that the picture of God’s plan is so much bigger than we could ever perceive.  It is so much bigger than us, today, and what we think we need or want.  Finally, he said, “Our friends have children because those children were meant to be alive today, so they could fulfill God’s purposes that he has laid out for them at the right time.  We don’t have children yet because our children aren’t meant to be alive yet.  If we are meant to have them, they are meant to be alive later, so they can also fulfill God’s purposes at the right time.  They are meant to influence people at a specific time, which will influence other people, and their children, and their grandchildren, and right on down the line.”  (This is why I married him, people.)

We had this discussion about five months ago, but those words that God spoke through my husband have completely changed my heart on when we do or do not have children.   I haven’t stopped thinking about it, but I have stopped worrying about it.  If I think about the times God has used someone to minister to me, or me to minister to someone else, I should remember that those times were pre-ordained, long before either one of us existed.  If we are to be blessed with children, God already has a plan for those children, and that time just hasn’t come yet.  Of course I am aware that there is a science to conception, but God being the Creator, He created that scientific process, and He is in ultimate control of it.  There is so much comfort in knowing that it isn’t up to us; knowing that His plan is perfect, and when we seek after it, it will be for our good.

Truthfully, I know that God has been doing some serious work in my heart and mind the last six months.  I am a changed woman who is seeking after Him more strongly than I ever thought possible.  When I step back and think about it, I am so very thankful that the changes He has brought about in me have begun before I have ten little fingers and ten little toes needing me to care for them.  God’s timing is perfect, whether it is for the woman who has seven children at 29, or the woman who has no children at 29.   God’s timing is perfect.

*Disclaimer:  I do not pretend to have all of the answers.  This post is a reflection on my own life, faith, and heart.  I cannot pretend to answer the choices and outcomes of every decision made by every person, nor can I pretend to understand them.  I do know, however, that every child is a blessed child from God.