Thursday, January 11, 2018

Feeling Like I'm Done

What's the most blasphemous phrase for a Catholic mom to utter?  I used to think it was the answer of "I'm done!" to the question of having more children. 

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Unless we physically can't bear any more babies, or have been instructed by medical professionals that we shouldn't try again, we are supposed to be open to the possibility of a new baby.  Even in  our later fertile years.  Even if we already have a gaggle of children.  We might feel like we want to be done, but know that we probably shouldn't say that.  Though we can do our part to try and avoid a pregnancy, the truth is that if we are loving our spouses and not contracepting, we may not be done until the Menopausal Lady sings.

My mom had her 5th baby (me) at age 42 and her 6th baby at age 44.  I am 38.  Do the math and if I'm anything like my mother (and I am) I could still have a couple more pregnancies in this old body.


The thing is that the thought of having another baby doesn't freak me out like it did after I had my first four babies in five years.  I've totally come around to trust that God provides for us the most when an unexpected pregnancy occurs.  Being open to life via having another baby is like tithing for me - you give more than you think you can afford and are blessed for it. 

I'm not even in a bad place physically or mentally to get pregnant, meaning I'm pretty healthy and have no medical reasons to try and avoid.  My youngest baby is almost 18 months old, and the older kids are so great at helping out with the little ones that welcoming a new baby home into this big family hardly feels like a big deal at all. 

But, but, but. 

{I just kinda feel done.}

My husband feels the same way.  We don't feel at all the urge to have another baby nor do we think that God is calling us to it.  Our plates are full.  Our financial state has always been totally maxed out, even though somehow it all works out.  One of my older kids, when he heard a family member ask me when #8 was coming, replied "Wait, just how many siblings am I going to have?"  He feels like we're done too ;) 

And I know, I KNOW, that this is just how we feel RIGHT NOW.  Time has a funny way of changing hearts and opening closed doors.  But I'm learning that saying that right now I feel like I'm done having babies may not be the worst sin ever, even though younger Colleen would have thought so.  Younger Colleen only had a couple of kids, Older Colleen has seven :)  Older Colleen is much better at looking at the whole family picture and seeing the needs of everyone in it.   I can also look around and realize that every family has "the baby" and has had to discern when their family feels complete.   Perhaps it's just a natural process that occurs after having the family that God has called you to have.  The feeling of being finished is like a peaceful sign from above that you've done your part.  You've run the good race and fought the good fight and can step out of the ring. 

I'm sad to say that I used to view God as more of the Old-Testament-plague-giving type of judge who wanted me to suffer to earn eternal life, you know, Fear of God and all that.  I'm happy to share that I have grown to see Him as a faithful and LOVING father who uses my suffering for good and to whom I can tell anything, even my feelings.

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And while I'm still living open to any life that comes along in the future, I'm trying to focus for now on being open to the needs of all the lives entrusted to me in the present.

10 comments:

  1. Oh goodness, I just want you to know that I just *thought* it was going to be an announcement on Friday. I really and truly think you have a wonderful, beautiful family. In any size. You, Phil and God can work it out between yourselves however you want with 100% support from my camp. I know you probably weren't basing this post off of my comment completely but seriously, you do you and I love you for it.

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    1. Once you've had a big family, everyone asks if you're done yet or when the next one is coming. It hardly bothers me anymore, I get it, big families are unusual and therefore interesting! Don't ever worry about a comment you've left, you are one of my sweetest followers ever :)

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  2. I had the same feeling after our fourth was born---prior to that, after each baby was born and got a little older I always had the feeling there was somebody missing--I'd count the two or three kids and say, "Who am I missing?" when we were out and about. After the fourth, that feeling was gone. I think that "somebody's missing" feeling was God's nudge, and afterwards He said, "Yep, that's the family I had in mind for you." Now, to some, a four-kid family is not a large family, but I came from people who thought the perfect size family was two kids--a boy and a girl, ideally--and so it was very radical for me to be looking at my three boys and thinking "There should be somebody else here!"

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    1. Thanks for sharing that Karen! After I had my second baby, I asked a mom of 8 how she knew how many kids she was called to have. She told me the same thing...until her 8th was born she always felt like there was more that were supposed to be there. When she had #8 she felt her family was complete. I remember thinking what an amazing gift that would be to be able to feel God's Will like that!

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  3. THANK YOU for this! This is exactly how we feel plus we have other issues that make it prudent to be avoiding indefinitely. Looking back, I did not feel done after #5. I thought I was done and convinced myself of it but something kept nudging me. Sure enough, #6 came along when we thought we were avoiding (seriously in a cycle with a lot of abstaining!) and as difficult as the pregnancy was, I felt a peace after that our family might be complete. Add to that the fact that we got a son after 5 girls when God knew my desires were strong for a son. Anyway, I appreciate when other people feel this way too!

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    1. It's always scary to say, because I've been surprised before!!

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  4. On the same page. I feel bad for saying it out loud, but my heart is definitely thinking that I am done. I remember when I went to my first Dr. appt with this current pregnancy and she asked me if I want my tubes tied if I have a c section. My mouth said no, but my head might have nodded yes :).

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    1. Ugh, when they ask me that in labor, I'm like...do NOT ask me that right now, I am so weak!

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  5. I read this after a summer and winter of purging all of my baby gear! My husband and I are done -after our last one turned 3, we realized we are too old to do this anymore! (We're really old as parents of 3 yr olds go - I had him at 46.5!) As much as I love babies and welcomed all my kids happily, I know we need to move onto a new stage in life. I did have a yearning for a baby once my littlest turned 2, but I've come to realize it was more of nostalgia/habit, rather than a real desire to add to the family. (When you get used to have a kid ever 2 yrs or so, not having a baby is a weird feeling!) (Full disclosure: I also thought I was done after #1, and then after #7, so it's okay to change one's mind. )
    I do miss having a baby around, but it's not in the cards anymore. So I can channel my energies to my assorted children. And maybe one day get a full night's sleep?

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  6. I know exactly how you feel! I turned 40 last June and our 9th child was also born. Our oldest will be 15 in May. :-) I'm a little tired. :-) We also homeschool and don't live near family. I love all of my children dearly and we are open to having more if God wills it, but I'm also feeling very content with our family size.Being open to life has been quite the journey.When I got married, I was a contracepting Non-Catholic. It is amazing to see how God draws one to His church and changes hearts. Anyway, all this to say that I know how you feel! :-)

    Jenny

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