I know that I gripe way too much: I'm tired, I'm busy, homeschooling takes so much time, it takes so much effort, it takes so much thought and so much money. We are financially strapped and likely always will be; we can't take vacations with all these kids; there are too many haircuts, too many outgrown clothes, too many dirty boots piled up by the door. I have about 16.2 minutes a day for myself once the kids are up, and that isn't counting my bathroom breaks. I have a thousand ideas and hundreds of plans, and all kinds of dreams, and chances are, they will never materialize. I will be homeschooling until I am 64. I am spread too thin.
But I wouldn't change my life for anyone else's. I love my children; in fact, I love children. I love their freshness, their insights, their imaginations. I love the passion they show for things. They are so alive, so full of vitality. It actually makes me sad to be leaving my childbearing years behind, sad that this summer I will have a two year old for the last time. It needs to be this way; all things have to come to an end eventually, and so too the time for pregnancies and nursing babes. But it is not without sadness that I bid this time farewell. These mothering years have been the most joyful, the most fulfilling of my life. Before my children--and I was married for twelve years before I had my first--my life was quiet, peaceful, productive and relatively mess-and-stress free. But it was a fairly selfish existence. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and only if I really wanted. Only motherhood brought me outside of myself, taught me the joy of giving, the sweetness that can come even from bitter self-denial. Love is self-sacrifice--Christ taught us this, right? It took motherhood to bring the message home for me.
I am tired of the mindset that says that somehow a life full of children prevents personal growth. There is the implication that people who have more than two or three children are somehow throwbacks to some less enlightened period, that they must be uneducated, uncivilized, or religious fanatics. That somehow being evolved means contracepting ourselves into oblivion or sharia law like all of Europe. Yes, I began this brood in order to follow God and my Catholic faith, but that is not why I wish I had the youth and strength to go on having kids for many more years.
It is because I enjoy them. I love their variety, and the many ways they make me feel. Tired, yes. Exasperated, yes. But alive...yes, yes, yes! They make me laugh, and sing and act silly. They make me speak in funny accents and make faces and create nonsense rhymes. They make me get messy and dirty and do things that are totally undignified for my age. They make me feel completely alive.
So please stop giving me those pitying glances, stop telling me that I have my hands full.
Because I don't want to have empty hands.