It finally came: the time when my husband and I could try for children. We’ve waited years. My health prevented the ability to even try to conceive, let alone even hope.
I’m not pregnant yet, (though for a few weeks I thought I was – devastating, of course), but these days I find myself enthusiastically (and somewhat guiltily) visiting baby stores and baby aisles, oohing and aahing over the merchandise, the cute outfits, the accessories, the new-fangled “make-life-with-a-baby-easier” products, and all in all being tempted to buy said things… you know, “for when it happens.”
I even rationalize the buying gender specific things, with the excuse that “Well, if I don’t have a boy, I can give this item away at a baby-shower!” Part of me loves this new freedom – like I’m finally allowed to hope and believe that it will happen. But the other part of me feels a guilt of sorts – like I’m wasting my existing energies in ways that are not helpful to my current life and situation. The people I could be focusing on, the job I have that I could be developing more fully, and the ministries I’m involved in are my vocation right now.
I’ve read enough “what to expect” articles about having kids that I know by now that life with a baby is not all fun and games. There is exhaustion, frustration, depletion, depression, and lots of other negative emotions and experiences that go with that beautiful thing of birthing new life into the world. Intellectually, I am prepared. But emotionally? Sometimes I realize I am still romanticizing the whole experience.
That guilt I feel; I’ve come to believe that it is somewhat legitimate. Of course I can get excited and hope, but in the meantime, I have work to do here and now – people to love, callings to fulfill, and things to focus on that may not get to happen once children come. As much as I want to be super-mom and do it all – have kids and continue my job, ministries and activities, I know I can’t. I won’t be able to. It’s just not realistic.
So when I use up that emotional energy “planning for” and spending time in baby stores and websites, I realize that those energies should be spend elsewhere; because not only is there no guarantee that I will conceive, but there is the possibility that it will take a year or more, and if that is the case, how much more could I have accomplished – how many more lives could I have touched if I had let myself focus on what was before me, rather than what I wanted to lie before me?
I don’t want you to misunderstand me: I believe strongly in dreams and hopes: I wholeheartedly encourage them in others, and certainly don’t want to crush my own! We humans wouldn’t get far without dreams – be they realistic, or just something that drives us to be better people and spurs us on in our dull and difficult moments.
But there is a difference between dwelling in our dreams, and striving towards our dreams. If I focus on the here and now, (developing my character, helping others, being a good wife, etc), then I will be all the more a better mother – more prepared to fulfill the vocation that motherhood entails. (Though I admit that I will never be fully prepared.)
I realize that by placing my attentions on what is before me, I will be all the more delighted and equipped when (hopefully), pregnancy does come for me and reality weds with my dreams. Then that new phase in my life can take hold of me – then I can dwell in my dreams after all, because by striving towards those dreams pre-pregnancy, I have given myself permission to dwell in those dreams during pregnancy with the knowledge that pre-pregnancy, those energies and emotions I would have spent wishing into oblivion, I spent well, and I spent responsibly.
I may not fully succeed in this task, but by trying to be all that I can be here and now, I believe that I will be a better mother, a better wife, and a better friend to others in my future to come. Why? Because the discipline I forced myself into following will give me restraint, maturity, and wisdom in ordering my daily life, and the life of my children.