Yesterday, I was at a play café (a place where the boys can play freely and I can drink coffee and eat food too… it’s genius) and I had a conversation that I can’t really stop thinking about. It wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I had to leave it before I wanted to because – you guessed it – Jack was hitting a kid with a broom. Anyway, she saw me with the two boys, and we exchanged the normal mom pleasantries.
“He’s so cute! How old is he?”
“Thanks! 8 months and the other one is a little over 2 years, and your little girl?”
“17 months. How is it with two?”
And I responded with my usual, “It’s pretty crazy, but it’s awesome and I love to see Jack interact with Blaise.”
“Ah, I just don’t know if I can have another one. I’m so tired. I don’t know…”
My reply was casual:
We talked for a short while longer and I was able to say some of what I wanted: “What’s been really cool about having two is that by seeing all the things that are special about Blaise, I realize all of the special things about Jack that I didn’t know were unique just to him.” And my typical, “It was tough for the first 6 months, but now that Blaise is sitting up and is able to do more and react to Jack and play and laugh, it’s much, much easier.”
When I had to run after Jack to save his poor victim from the next impending broom strike, she was still saying how tired she was, so I wish I was able to say more.
If I were able to finish the conversation, here is what I would say:
We have been given this awesome-amazing-ridiculous power to generate human beings. We get to create people. When we don’t, that’s one less person in the world.
Isn’t your daughter your best friend, the person you love more than anything, the light of your life? What if you got to have that twofold? Threefold? FOURFOLD? I don't know anyone who, when they're old, wishes they had fewer kids. I know many who wish they had more.
And isn’t she undeniably worth the late nights and early wake ups? How could the next one not be the same?
And biggest of all,
What is love without sacrifice?
The bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the love.
Which, of course, always brings us back to Christ. I get the other mother's mentality. She still feels like she’s in the trenches. How can she come up for air when she feels like she has a weight tied to her ankle? I get it. I mean, I’m there right now. But sometimes what we have to realize is that the weight tied to our ankle isn’t our children, it’s our own attachment to ourselves. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is discernment needed with spacing children – to look at one’s mental and physical health prayerfully and seriously before considering another child. But the offer should stay on the table, not permanently written off for temporary reasons. Or, even more, reasons that are keeping you from holiness.
Now, this woman probably isn’t Catholic, but the points I wanted to share with her are true for anyone coming from any background or worldview. For whatever reason, I come across this question often and fleshing out my unfinished exchange with this woman has helped me form a response that, while challenging, is ultimately encouraging. And in a world where everyone seems to want change and revolution, the family is the best place for it.