Friday, March 4, 2011


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.


  1. Oh I know what you mean about those looks and the "having your hands full" comment and I only have two kiddos right now. I just end up telling those people "I'd rather them be full than empty." That usually surprises them, makes them reevaluate their lives/comments and agree with me, "your right," they say. =)

  2. That is precisely how I answer them!

  3. Hi Nadja! I'd just like to thank you for your blog and for this post. Being pregnant with my fourth child (all two years apart), I take a lot of comfort and solace in your words and in your experience. This post, in particular, I found to be very affirming. Even the gripes, because that's honest and it's good to be able to relate to someone. Thanks again-

  4. Beautiful! I get that comment "you have your hands full" a lot, and that is a perfect answer!

  5. A big hug from a french mother of 3! I love your blog and the way you see things. Your hands will always be full of love. Thank you.

  6. Thank you, Valerie! May you enjoy the same blessing!

  7. Beautiful, Nadja. I love reading your thoughts, especially those on motherhood.

  8. We're on the same page. ;) Thank you for visiting me and commenting about this on my "rant."

    I too have said, "better full than empty." Can't imagine how unfulfilled I'd feel without my children as motherhood is a gift and a blessing. God gives everyone a vocation and I pray that I am following His will for me.

  9. Well said! I have four and am very tired of being in the checkout line or at the library and someone asking, "Are they all yours?" and then they follow the question with a look of pity.

  10. Extremely well said! So glad I happened upon your blog!

  11. I totally know what you mean. It is tough to have a big family, leavingone stretched thin very very often, but also ful to the top with love. I don't want to have empty hands either! I love your home education list of links!


  12. Better to have full hands than an empty heart.

  13. Yes. I am totally disgusted when I hear young wanna-bes complaining that their children are getting in the way of their "art." (Whatever that may be.) My first answer, bitten back, is that I'm betting if the children weren't there, they'd have to find some other excuse to explain their inability to achieve anything like a true artist status (hack, hack, hack). My second is simply to laugh - what "art" is worth experiencing if it's built on no real experience of love, pain, sacrifice, human experience.

    There are women who have been passed over for marriage or not chosen it. I can respect them thoroughly. One of my mantras is: if you don't want to give what it takes in time, focus and energy to really raise a child, DON'T HAVE ANY. That choice is legitimate. But to have children and then whine about not having time for yourself? Slap, slap, slap.

    Lose yourself to find yourself is what Christ explained to us - what does isolation teach you that you don't outgrow in a matter of minutes. It's shredding yourself into multiple resources that shows you who you are and what you are made of.

    You've made me howl here. People will say, "The kids grew up so fast - where did the time go?" And you'll smile and say, "I know exactly where it went. I was there, THE WHOLE TIME." And your children will be SO much deeper and stronger and self disciplined and they will never lose their sense of wonder.

    I'm on the other end of it. I lived. And my life is entirely full of other things now, as I share interest in my adult children's lives from the standpoint of living my own.

    It's WONDERFUL!!

    And I love my faith, too - which teaches me that children and family are the greatest gift (save the atonement) given to men.

  14. Thanks, K, for ranting right along with me! I'm happy to have found your blog!

  15. Dear Nadja,
    I have been trying to comment for days...just busy with my 'full hands,' lol.
    I agree with you totally. My life is sooooo blessed by each and every child we have. I can not think of ANYTHING I would want to do with my life except this (and always have too).
    We truly are blessed not only by our children but by the knowledge that they are a gift and we are honoured to have them.
    Funny I have been working on a post like this too.
    Many blessings


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