Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's not a competition.

Last Saturday, which is a "whole nother story", Matt was shooting a 1st birthday party for a friend's nephew at the country club. I had all the boys at Chick-filet for a birthday party. Long story short, I had to stop by the country club to seek out Matt, momentarily to get some keys. The friend's mother saw me, of course, and we chatted for a bit. I should add, this friend was a former competitive swimmer, so they know me and my "winning" personality all too well. I believe the first thing she laughingly said, was: "Matt said he's trying to convince you that number of children is not a competition you have to win."

Now, I have to admit, this thought has crossed my mind. I've had multiple heart to hearts, with myself, in which, I am trying to understand what exactly it is that compels me to have such a large family. And the best I can come up with is: it's complicated.

On the surface, it's easy to say these things: I'm competitive. I LOVE all things miniature. And cute. Especially if these things are living! (Though, I like the inanimates as well.) I enjoy chaos and am bored by simplicity. I dislike predictable schedules (again, boring). I really like my husband, and am apparently very fertile. I grew up in a large family, and it's simply what I am accustomed to, enjoyed and feel my children will benefit from it. I LOVE newborns, how they help me to relax, to stop and smell the roses, to cherish life; they ground me.

When I dig, I mean really dig, I believe it all comes down to one core value, which I have held for as long as I can remember; do not waste your gifts. In 7th grade, we were encouraged to begin a journal. I went to Catholic school, and this journal was to be between you and God. One of my first and longest entries was all about gifts, talents, in essence "why were we put on this earth". I intensely felt that we all had a specific purpose. Why else would every human be so different, and possess such different skill sets and abilities? I felt it our duty to discover our greatest talents, strengths, or gifts from God and refine them. Practice them. Perform them to THE BEST of our ability. It infuriated me to see people waste their good fortune. Intelligent classmates perform poorly on tests. Artistic classmates putting no effort into their artwork. Athletic classmates goofing off in gym or at basketball practice. Great singers not trying out for the school musical. I simply did not understand. Why would you ignore this beautiful thing, handed to you. Yours for the taking and making. Yours to share with all of us who do not possess that same talent. This mindset, I'm certain, is why I have done all that I have thus far in life. I simply cannot ignore my gifts and talents, and must pursue them as much as I am able.

It's obvious I took this mission very seriously. I achieved nearly the highest level possible in swimming. I achieved one of the highest levels of education. Then, once I began child bearing, and discovered I was blessed with the ability to conceive and carry a healthy child to birth with relative "ease", I felt, this too, was a gift I have been handed. Matt once got very upset with me for mentioning that "maybe the Duggar's aren't that crazy." I simply meant, I can see how easy it is to view not only every child has a gift, but the ability to continue to reproduce them as a gift as well. So, if we go back to my initial value: "do not waste your gifts", how I can I simply stop having children at some arbitrary number?

My body has yet to show signs that child-bearing has become dangerous, or detrimental to my health. My, now 4, children are all still well-fed, bathed, dressed and happy. Sure, it's possible my husband might be reaching his max capacity, and perhaps I am as well. Also, I do know that at age 35 things do, statistically, become riskier. My logical brain very much understands that there is a limit. A limit that we may have already surpassed. But my passionate, theoretical brain, says, "how can you just ignore this amazing, beautiful gift, and perhaps even, purpose for your life on earth?" If I've ever questioned my path in life, or had doubts about my career or decisions, it's only that I've wondered, did I choose the path meant for me?

I try not to get too into existentialism. It gives me a headache. Especially, because, there is a possibility that we really have no true purpose. But, it seems I have always operated off the idea that I should not ignore my strengths and continue to maximize their potential. I refuse to be a hypocrite. I will always be overly passionate (obsessive, perhaps even a bit compulsive) And I will never stop pursuing my dreams or refining my skills. So. Here we are. At 25 weeks pregnant with number 5. And I am just ecstatic. I am not worried about how she will fit in with us, nor how we will manage with 5 children under 6.5 years of age. I realize it's not a competition (against other people, anyway.) But, I'm not sure the reason for my competitiveness was ever to prove anything to anyone but myself. It's not about being better then other people, but being the BEST of MYSELF. I view it as an opportunity to fulfill one of my many gifts and duties in life. One that I am so, so honored to have been bestowed. I don't care how many children you have, you never stop viewing each one as a beautiful, miraculous blessing. What a wonderful gift I have been given; motherhood.

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