Note: I had this post in the works last week before a particularly irritating run-in with an obnoxious person who asked if I was “crazy” for having so many kids so close together. I guess I just really need to learn this lesson right now…and learn how to let it all roll off my back. Lucky for me, I’ve got some incredibly encouraging friends and ain’t nobody gonna touch that!
Any woman who has ever been pregnant and has set foot in public knows that the questions, comments, and unsolicited opinions of strangers may very well be one of the most irritating pregnancy symptoms. I will never understand what gives people licence to think that it is acceptable to ask highly personal questions and to make highly personal remarks about strangers. Buuut, whatevs.
The issue that grows the most tiresome for me is that of the spacing of my children. I have a three year old, a fourteen month old, and a baby due in September. Yes, I understand that most people wouldn’t space their children this way. I, however, am not most people.
Because I work with the public and because I’ve decided not to be a hermit and therefore leave my home regularly, I feel like I get to explain the spacing of our kids to strangers on a daily basis. I’m typically greeted with negativity, which is why I’m so grateful to the patron I helped at work the other day. Instead of viewing my children’s close ages as a negative, she praised me and told me to look forward to the close relationships they’ll develop. “That’s the way to do it!” she said.
And, while I know the kids won’t always be close, that their relationships will grow and change with the flux of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, I’m so, so thankful that someone was finally there to encourage rather than point out impending doom, like so many others have done in the past few months.
It’s as if the world is filled with Henny Pennies who feel that it’s their duty to alert me to the fact that, based on the ages of my children, the sky in my life is falling and sh*t’s about to get real. “Just wait” they say, and “Oh, boy are your hands going to be full!”
There have been some really wonderful blog posts and articles out lately about just this.
About how important it is for us to remind each other to “just wait” for the joys to come. (This one makes me cry every. single. time.)
And while I continue to grow and learn about human nature, I’m constantly reminding myself to fight the urge to put others down via a negative outlook. I truly believe that positivity and encouragement are a conscious decision we each must make every day, every moment, every second.
Because if we don’t we’ll be stuck in a world of “just you waits.” We’ll be in a place filled with constant reminders of how hard and miserable our lives are going to be…as if they’re not hard enough already. We’ll be completely surrounded with the threat of things to come, we’ll regard beautiful gifts (like children) as burdens that we regret shouldering, and, most importantly, we’ll miss out.
If we spend all of our focus, all of our energy on worrying about a presumably miserable future to come, not only will we risk living out a self-fulfilling prophesy, but we’ll completely miss the beauty that dwells in and comes from the mess.
Yes, my children are very close in age. Yes, they will fight. Yes, there will be a zillion dirty diapers. Yes, I will be overwhelmed and under-rested. Yes, I will have my hands full.
But, oh sweet Lord, will my heart be fuller.
My days are already filled with challenges and disappointments. It’s not what I thought it’d be, but in so many ways it really is so much more. My girls can make me laugh at an earlier age than I ever expected they would. I can’t get enough of the way Lily immediately showers me with sloppy kisses the moment I lift her from her crib and I treasure each time Maggie refers to me as, “her girl.” I will never have these moments again and no amount of chaos, stress, or tears can make this time in my life any less sweet, any less worthwhile.
It’s true that parenting is a vocation. It really isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Not all experiences with child rearing are fulfilling or fun and that’s okay, too. What I think gets overlooked is the fact that part of this vocation of parenthood is the duty of building up other parents. It’s not just about us, guys.
Those who are already parents should make it a priority to encourage those who are first-timers. We should offer an ear and a shoulder…and advice, but only when requested. People need to know that they’ve got support, that there’s someone who has walked the road before them and made it to the other side in one piece. We all need a little comfort from someone who has been in the trenches and lived to tell the tale.
And this isn’t just about parenting. It’s about life. If we spend all of our time worrying about the future, if we greet every new opportunity, every life change with a wary eye that only focuses on negativity, what kind of life are we living?
Sure, rough things are bound to happen. Of course, they will. I just choose to believe, have to believe that good is out there. Good is there, even in the hardest of challenges. Yes, trouble and pain and struggle and hardship are coming, But good is coming, too.
Good is coming and it’s coming for me. It’s coming for you, too.
Good is coming for all of us, we just have to be there to meet it.