I started to tell Ellie it is only one more (child) than our family plus my mom who had paraded around a resort with us the evening before. But, instead I just smiled and looked at the mother and father holding hands at the rear of the group. Though the mother knew nothing of my smile, it was one of those kinship smiles of love that mothers sometimes share.
It made me think more deeply about an interaction we had with a stranger at church the previous Sunday. An older gentleman walked into the chapel and upon seeing our family sitting on the church pew, turned to my husband and said, “What a great family you have.” Then, he proceeded to count aloud the children. This friendly man then turned to my eldest, Megan, and said, “You need another girl don’t you? A baby sister is what you need, isn’t it?” To which Megan just politely smiled and nodded.
And I smiled, a real smile. The kind of smile that reaches deep to the heart and feels sheer happiness, joy and contentment. I have five children. Each one was a carefully discussed, premeditated, much desired decision. We were blessed to have them when and how we desired them. It is a blessing that to many women is withheld, but for some reason, the deep maternal desires that I had clear back as a young child have come full circle.
As a young child, teenager, and even young adult, my journal is filled with numerous entries mentioning the large family I desired. My numbers varied over the years, but the number never fell below eight. I always thought I wanted at least eight. And then I had one, then two, and then number three came along. Then one day, before number four and five were even planned, I announced that there would be five children in our family. I just knew.
A few weeks ago, I talked with a friend who has four girls and can’t quite decide whether to have another baby. She asked me how I came to my decision. I really had no explanation. I don’t think anybody really does, because really, it is a very complex decision. There are so many things to consider: health reasons, financial decisions, miscarriages, personal circumstances, culture and religion. It is all so deeply personal.
I will always remember standing in the kitchen with my husband, our six-week-old baby (child number five) laying on the couch nearby asleep. And my husband completely out of the blue, said, “You’re right. I can be done too. It’s time for a different stage.” Five seems just right for us. I can’t tell you how. I can’t tell you why.
And though I see newborn babies and bittersweetly recognize the end of writing that chapter of my life, I am content as I see other chapters that I am just now beginning to write.
Though there are different lifestyles involved in one child versus eight children, or three children versus five, there is no doubt that most mothers know the smile that I smiled as the mother of six children passed me by this morning. The smile of love, contentment, fulfillment and pride.
Mothers love their children. Whether we have one child or eight.
QUESTION: How do you feel contentment and fulfillment with your family as it is now?
CHALLENGE: When someone comments on your children, whether one or ten, smile and be happy with the choices you have made for your family.