"Oh, you're going to have your hands full!" (I already do!)
"You're gonna be busy!" (Oh I know it!)
"You need to get your husband cable TV!" (Excuse me!?)
"It will get easier!" (But until then ...)
And a slew of colorful comments from Jon's male co-workers that we won't mention here.
But my personal favorite came from a European woman working at Wawa:
"Oh, you have big courage!"
Because I certainly didn't set out on this path on purpose. No, I did not wake up one morning and say to myself, "I think I'll just go ahead and have 3 babies in 3 years, won't that be fun?!" And I certainly never pictured myself in this situation a few years ago. In fact, I was just reading an assignment I had in 11th grade Advanced Composition where I had to describe my life 10 years from now. My current situation is looking very different from the scrawled dreams of a 17-year-old.
I kept thinking of that lady's comment for the rest of the day. What did she mean? I certainly don't feel courageous. In fact, I often feel very, very nervous. And sometimes even embarassed. What is it about having three little ones that makes a woman brave? Why are babies considered dangerous territory?
Recently a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook. I've read it a few times, because I think it's good. And you know what, it gives me courage. The author, Rachel Jankovic, writes about Motherhood is a Calling and Where Your Children Rank. She says,
"The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.
Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing."And I will be the first to admit I've been guilty of these thoughts a few times myself. Seriously, what I would give just to have the freedom to sit around and pick my toes (not that I would really do that!). But ultimately I know my kiddos are an absolute gift ... and their timing is too. Because I certainly didn't plan that! And despite the sacrifices, the "death to self," the dreams laid to rest - I'm living the dream. And then Jankovic said something else that really hit me hard:
"Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel."I don't take both boys out in public much by myself, actually I try to avoid such situations if at all possible. But I love her perspective on family as a testimony. And it makes me want to make sure I'm sending the right message. Yes, I love these little ones. But I also value them, they are the most important things to Jon and I. And regardless of their intentionality, I know they have a purpose. Regardless of our "plan" (or lack of) I know that God has a plan for them. And it's my goal to not interfere with that and to never, ever make them feel like a burden, a phase, a "hiccup" ...
And while I don't think this is what "Wawa lady" had in mind at all when she told me I had "big courage", I hope she is right. I hope that as my babies' mama I have the courage show the world what I really value.
Yes, my hands are full. Yes, life is very busy. No, I will not be going back to school, or writing a book, or taking that 5th anniversary trip to the Carribbean. At least not any time soon. Yes, my house is often a mess. My laundry is stacked higher than my children. I don't have time to put on make-up every day. Sometimes I end up skipping a shower. I'm continuously behind on the latest trends. And I haven't been to a gym in years.
But I have three little lives in my charge. Three little gifts. Three "arrows in my quiver" and three "shoots around my table." And they are so worth it. You know what they say: "My hands are full ... but so is my heart."