I've always wanted several children. At least three... maybe four, five. Six? (Kyle is off somewhere screaming "PUMP THE BRAKES!")
But it's tough to fathom how I could conceivably care for even one other creature while I have Lord Jack near and dear to my heart (and hip). How do other mamas manage?
I want to share something I read recently. This post spread like wildfire on the internet last year. Simcha Fisher is a blogger with the National Catholic Register, and she has (wait for it) nine children. But she had such amazing things to say about the process of becoming a mother with the first one, and how that is the most transformative experience and the hardest adjustment to make. This particular excerpt below resonated so strongly with me (and, of course, made me cry). Sometimes the daily tasks feel so tiring, so frustrating... but this whole process, watching Jack learn and love, and feeling myself and Kyle growing as parents, is an amazing experience too. The mundane parts of this motherhood gig -- they are not "who I am." I am not a diaper changer and bottle maker. I am a mother. And that is the greatest calling on earth. I am doing this hard but joyful, endless but fleeting, sometimes-thankless but always-rewarding job to raise my baby into a kind, smart, fulfilled, unique, and happy person. And that prospect is incredible, but even as he starts to take those first tiny wobbles away from babyhood -- he's sitting up now all by himself, he wants to crawl in the very worst way, and then stand and even walk, he wants to visit with other little ones and find out more about this great big world -- I think my heart is already breaking a bit at the thought of him growing up.
And Fisher's post, especially the bit below, reminds me that this might be the toughest part of all. I think the first baby is the biggest challenge in a lot of ways. You face the fear of the unknown while you're pregnant, then the horrific sleep deprivation of that newborn stage, and then learning on the job through teething and nursing and illnesses and separation anxieties... and then there's the constant process of watching your little one grow up and letting go. I don't rush milestones at all. I'm not sure I want Jack crawling and cruising and toddling anytime soon. I know it will be a whole different kind of wonderful, but it won't be this sweet, snuggly dependence. This impending mobility feels like it's about two steps away, literally, from kindergarten.
In Jack's first few unhappy months, it felt like the tough stuff -- the work -- would never end. But suddenly his babyhood feels very fleeting. I can't shop for his clothes in the Baby section of Target anymore. He doesn't fit into them. (There must be a lot of dust in this room all of a sudden... sniffle, sniffle). Ahem. Anyway. I hope you enjoy this post too :)
by Simcha Fisher, Thursday, January 19, 2012, National Catholic Register
...Taking care of them is easy. It’s tiring, it’s frustrating, but when I stop and take a breath, I see that it’s almost like a charade of work. All these things, the dishes, the diapers, the spills—they must be taken care of, but they don’t matter. They aren’t who I am. To become a mother, I had to learn how to care about someone more than I did about myself, and that was terrible. But who I am now is something more terrible: the protector who can’t always protect; the one with arms that are designed to hold, always having to let go. Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard. You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone. For what? Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left. When I had only one child, she was so heavy. Now I can see that children are as light as air. They float past you, nudging against you like balloons as they ascend.