Sunday, January 19, 2014

Where I Come From

I'm a mother of eight in rural Texas.  I come from a family of six children and my husband comes from a family of eight children so we are in our element with eight of our own.  We started our family when we were just kids -- I was barely 22 when my oldest was born.  All aspects of adult life were new to me.  I had only started to explore myself as autonomous from my parents and the safe haven they created.  I look at my decision to marry and have a family as a leap of faith.  Sure I'd seen other people with successful families but I had no way to gauge my own ability to fly.  Now that I have been a mother for awhile, I can honestly say that at the time I had no idea what I was doing.  I wasn't prepared but I learned by doing.

My first child is a girl.  I came home from the hospital with her with some serious doubts about my ability to care for her.  This was no babysitting job.  My own mother was two hours away and unavailable to help me.  My husband knew no more than I did about taking care of babies.  God must have known something about me that I didn't know because he sent a precious little child into my life and said, "You go girl!"  Of course, at first, I was totally enamored with her perfect features in miniature.  Then she began to fuss and became seriously colicky.  She cried and threw up the milk in her tummy every day after 5 pm.  I didn't know anything about colic.  "Surely my baby was perfect!" I thought.  I waited to ask questions.  Eventually, another young mother suggested I try Mylicon drops which she had used with her baby.  These helped some.  Eventually my baby outgrew these symptoms and we kept going.  Life has a way of speeding up not slowing down.

Nine months later, I discovered I was expecting again.  This meant that my toddler who was barely ready to stand alone would soon be faced with a sibling to share me with.  It also meant that my identity as a woman was changing again.  As his birth approached I wrote, "I wish the best for you.  I will help you as much as I can.  You will be surprised at how different life on Earth is from the warm darkness of the womb."

Now I have eight children.  My youngest is less than a month old.  He is as precious and perfect as all the others were at birth.  In giving him life, I once again gave up my physical strength for a period of ten months.  I let my body do its thing while I ate and slept and put aside projects.  Every time I give a baby birth via my body, I give up my own will for a while.  It is my gift to God.

In losing myself, time after time in pregnancy, I have found a new self.  I have become a woman with more depth, more patience and more endurance.  I have lost some of my selfishness and a lot of my pride.  I have relinquished appearance, order and entertainment.  I have also given up things that matter -- together time with my children, marital harmony and opportunities to reconnect with my siblings.  These things I have to reassert as priorities in my life now that I'm past the pregnancy.

And the miracle is that I've reached this point in my life together with my husband and my children and I still have a sense of humor, a tender heart and a belief that God has a plan for me.

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