In the beginning of our marriage, God saw fit to give us babies by the bucketful. Or so it seemed.
As much as I reveled in those early years of motherhood, having four kids under five, then five kids under six, then six kids under seven, and so on, did take its toll on me.
I used to lie awake at night sometimes. I would calculate the number of childbearing years we had left in our marriage, and then silently catch my breath at the large and looming number that appeared in my mind.
Funny thing about fertility. It is at once a very public part of my life — any stranger I meet in the grocery store is immediately aware of how abundantly we have been blessed — but also a very private one.
People who feel they know me through my writing, and even some who don’t know me at all, feel free to ask about the whens and whys of whether I am currently pregnant or whether we’ll be having another baby. Since we’ve been at this baby business pretty much hot and heavy for the past 15 years, it seems a reasonable question to ask.
But I am not at all comfortable answering it.
Perhaps the reason is that, for a number of different reasons and in a number of different ways, God seems to be answering the “Will we have another?” question with a definitive “Not now.” And that stings.
In ways I am not yet ready to share with strangers or even friends, “Not now” can be a heart-ripping message to hear. I need to let that wound heal a bit before poking, prodding, or otherwise exposing a part of me still so tender it burns.
I am sure some would say it’s silly or even greedy and ungrateful of me to pine for a baby at this point in my life. After all, haven’t we had our share? Haven’t we already been undeservedly blessed in ways that others never will be?
Of course we have.
And don’t we enjoy new freedoms as a result of my lack of a pregnant body and the absence of a newborn in my arms?
Of course we do.
The most ironic thing, I think, is that it’s the same selfish part of me that once balked at so many babies in so little time that now balks at the idea of ever getting off the baby train. It’s the same struggle for control and the same rebellion against submission to God’s will that now causes such familiar pain.
Though it might sometimes stab at my heart when a baby in the cart in front of mine at Target captures my eye and watches me with a thoughtful, innocent, knowing expression, I do know this.
Whether God says yes or no to future babies, He quite surely expects me to spend today focusing on the responsibilities I already have here in my home. He undoubtedly expects me to give this family right here 100 percent of my time and energy. And He will surely not be pleased if I reserve some part of my heart for a future phantom child that might live in my daydreams, but does not yet exist.
God never asks us to say anything more than yes to right now. Our future circumstances are always subject to change; we need not waste time or energy imagining them and struggling to accept them. We need only to accept what is — right here, right now.
And anyway, I still have a baby. At least that’s what I call him. Though two-and-a-half-year-old Daniel doesn’t much like to admit it, he still is his Mama’s boy.
“Daniel, sweetie,” I called to him the other day, “Are we in love?”
Now the boy has his dignity. He stopped what he was playing and looked directly at me. “We not in love,” he insisted.
“Oh come on!” I pestered him, “Aren’t you my boyfriend?”
“No.” He eyed me suspiciously.
I left him alone, but the little guy apparently suffered a guilty conscience after jilting his mother in such an ungentlemanly fashion.
He found me in the kitchen a short while later and tugged at my pant leg until I knelt beside him.
If I could ever capture a moment in time and hold it in my pocket for taking out and re-living to soothe my soul in troubling times, I would definitely choose the very moment that followed.
Daniel cupped my face in his little man hands, locked his brown eyes on mine, and solemnly said, “We are boyfriend.”
Whatever the future holds, I’ve got a pudgy-cheeked, mop-headed blessing in sneakers, right here in my kitchen today.
We are boyfriend. And right here, right now is a not such a bad place to be.