It’s my 38th birthday. I always reflect deeper on my birthday and even more so as I prepare for the imminent arrival of my 8th child. I find that birthdays and BIRTH days automatically cause me to evaluate where I’ve been, who I am, and what’s next.
Motherhood is currently my primary occupation. It’s not a glamorous one: my days are usually filled with cleaning up spills, repeating instructions, breaking up fights, washing smelly laundry, scraping dirty dishes, wiping running noses, changing stinky diapers, unclogging toilets…well, you get the idea. It’s a far cry from a decade and more ago.
Back in my previous life I traveled frequently, even to Europe multiple times. I worked with fascinating people on a beautiful tropical island. I focused completely on my higher education, earned multiple degrees, received accolades as a teacher, had a career plus side jobs, and poured myself into ministry. It was a rich, amazing life that revolved around my interests and passions. At times I wonder if I shouldn’t have seized even more opportunities when I had the chance to do so. Now I’m focused on juggling: juggling household tasks with newborn schedules with teaching my children with my own hobbies when I have a spare second.
This morning over a yummy birthday breakfast I intentionally absorbed the chance to study each face around the table. I listened to my husband singing to me and strumming on the ukulele. All of our people were smiling and clapping and celebrating with me; each one unique and a story unfolding. He and I have given up so much time together because we are parents. We don’t go out much or have the chance to indulge our whims and fancies. We frequently feel like we are parents first and marriage partners second. Should we have done more before this life began?
Society tells young people to live it up when they have the chance. Before the babies and the burdens of family life begin they should play all they can and enjoy the freedom of no responsibility. Maybe that’s all true. But to me that portrays the fun as the real living. You see, in the midst of my single life I was really just killing time as I waited for my heart’s desire to begin: a handsome husband with whom to raise a family.
Flipping back through the pages of the past we see that pivotal history wasn’t made by people living for fun; what was significant in positive ways came from those living with intention. Self-sacrifice is a requirement when raising a family but that is true of any investment worth making. One day I will catch a glimpse of each of these children leaving their mark in our world and I’ll know that these years were the ones when I was truly living it up.