Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Marriage and Having Children

My youngest is just 9 months and already I'm wondering when I'll be pregnant again. This December I turn 37 and my husband is now 39. We are nearing the end of being able to bear children. I love my children dearly and it is impossible for me to not want them to exist. They are bright little stars in my universe. They are parts of me walking around outside of my body. How could I not want my hand or my foot or my elbow? It is the same with my children. God counted my children before I ever came to be. I don't know their number but one day I will. Usually, around this post-partum time, I gain my fertility back. Shortly thereafter, I get pregnant. Neither of those things have happened yet, and because of this I have been doing much thinking on marriage and having babies. 

My mother once told me that having babies was for the young. I understand her now. Exhaustion is never so intense as when you are dealing with babies. They consume your life and wake you when you want to sleep. They are completely dependant on someone else for their care and because I love my children deeply and they are my responsibility I am able to muster my strength and reserves and persevere. I am thinking that all of this childcare would be much easier if I were 15 or 20 years younger. I recall at 19, staying awake on purpose for 3 days so I wouldn't have jet lag on return from Europe. I could stay awake at night until 4 am and wake at 6:30 am to get ready for work or go to school. I had no problem with little to no sleep. Now it's just so much harder. I'd love to get more sleep but that isn't happening with three little ones in the house. They seem to love waking at 6 am and begging for food. By the time they all get to bed in the evenings I get my second wind and a shot of adrenaline. Just having them all in bed is so exciting, I do a little jig as I trot down the stairs, and I couldn't possibly sleep until I wind down a bit, when in reality I should head straight for bed if I want 8 hours of sleep. 

All this hard work is made just a little bit harder by me having to change and grow as a person. When we are young we are flexible. We change easily and often eagerly. Halfway through my 30s I don't want to change anymore. I want everything to be steady. Steady homelife. Steady income. Steady friends. All very reliable. With welcoming new people into our lives so late in our adult lives it make changing harder, especially when we are their everything. 

In marriage, it is much the same. I wish I had been able to get married much younger so the change wouldn't be so hard. Both my husband and I have a horrible time communicating, compensating, and changing our preferences. We find ourselves inflexible. Sometimes we worry we will break because of the inflexibility. 

Our culture tells us to wait until we are older to get married and to wait even longer after that to have children. In marriage the thought is that you need to find yourself and get stable. With children, they get in the way of stability (and heaven forbid you have more than 1 or 2). Waiting to get married is not very good advice to me because being married and submitting yourself to another's will will change and mold you into a new person and that process is best done when young. So too is learning how to have, care, and raise children. And having few children is much harder than having many. With each child we grow in our parenting skills and become more efficient with what we know is needed. It's shocking to realize just what we need as people. 

I also believe that my children change me into a better person. My concern for their welfare is a great driving factor in my attitude and general being. Plainly, I became an adult when I became a parent. Before marriage and children, I was a contributing member of society but in a very selfish way. I was more juvenile than adult. 

I cannot go back and change how things turned out, nor would I want to because then I would not have the babies and husband I have now. However, if I were to advise a young lady or young man about marriage and children, I would say that getting married young is easier than waiting and getting married later. You will learn to change together and less will you have to unlearn or overcome. The same with children. Children are for the young. Don't wait until you are 40 to have a child because you may never have them. We become set in our ways. Why do you think the military doesn't take people after 35 years of age? It's because of how hard it is to overcome bad habits and train the person to be a soldier. 

Hopefully, for me, I'll have more babies. My wish is for a nice big family. Three boys are a lot but once they get past the baby stage they entertain each other and it's not so hard. I'll take what I can get but secretly I hope for seven by the time I am 43. Seven is a good number. I like seven.