Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the race to space

And for any of you space fans out there, I'll go ahead and let you know this post doesn't have anything to do with NASA.  What I'm talking about is the philosophy behind spacing children. A big subject to unwrap, I know, but don't worry because I'm not going to attempt it.  Almost everyone I know has some kind of idea about the direction they want their family road map to take—for some that map is etched in stone more than others—and I don't take any issue with anyone's personal philosophy, because frankly, it's not my business or anyone else's.  Whether you want to have a kid a year for ten years, or two with ten years in between, I don't care.  I may not be able to comprehend that particular family plan for myself, and I might not be able to fathom how a particular family does what it does, but I firmly believe there isn't a right or wrong, as long as the parents are responsibly and safely raising their children.

But what got me thinking about this subject had more to do with the thoughts and attitudes people have about their plan, regardless of what that plan happens to be.  I've been involved in a lot of discussions on this subject, and there's a trend that seems to be predominant; something that isn't said outright but is everywhere all the same.  And that thing, that underlying element, is control.  

Is there anything wrong with having a game plan?  I really don't think so.  Having an idea about what you and your spouse want for your family seems practical, and maybe even responsible. Being on the same page with your husband or wife about how many kids you want and when you want them is just plain healthy for your marriage.  So, what in the world am I talking about?  What's the big hairy deal?

I'm not exactly sure. It's one of those subjects that I sense better than I articulate.  But since this is a blog and you won't be sensing what I sense anytime soon, I'm going to give it a try.  Basically, I feel like sometimes we tend to get a little to wrapped up with our "plan." I know I'm big time guilty of this, and having Poppy just helped open my eyes a little in this regard.  It stands out to me more than it used to when I hear something like, "We're spacing our kids 18 months apart so that we can have all three in high school at once."  Or, "I am never having my kids closer than 3 years because I don't want to deal with diapers for more than one child at a time." Or, "We are waiting until we have experienced everything we want to before we decide to start a family." Those aren't real quotes, but I've heard versions of all of those statements in the past few months.  And is there anything really wrong with those statements?  On a surface level, I don't think so.  There is something innate in us that wants to make a plan and stick to it with as few detours as possible, and that's not necessarily a bad thing! 

 So what is it that I thought was worth writing about?  I guess it's all about attitude. I get the feeling that for a lot of us, giving God the reins in this particular area is out of the question.  This is not a subject that is open for discussion or input from anyone, including God.  In fact, I feel like a lot of us would get the wind knocked out of us if God stepped in an altered that plan we had so carefully mapped out with something like infertility or an unanticipated pregnancy.  But ironically, I've noticed this is exactly the kind of thing God tends to do.  I think we all believe children are gifts from God, so why is it we tend to get all in a wad when we don't get the gift we want when we want it?  And I'm not trying to make light of the pain that comes with not being able to have children, or the overwhelming nature of having more than you think you can handle.  But still, there is that reality that in most of us there is something, buried a little under the surface, that wants God's gifts, but only in our timing. I know.  I've been there.

None of my kids really came in a way I expected, but who in the world am I to say that my way would have been better?  My girls are my gifts, given in God's timing, with His fingerprints all over their stories.  And the same is true for each precious child out there.

I guess this is an area like so many others where a balance must be struck.  A place needs to be found where you can have a general idea of where you're going while at the same time being open and willing for God  to step in and steer your boat in a different direction if He chooses.  I think that's all it's about.  Not only being willing to hand the control over, but recognizing that the control wasn't really yours in the first place. 

Child spacing certainly doesn't have a monopoly on this concept, but it's something almost all of us face at some time so it's kind of universally experienced.  We have different ideas about what we want and different reasons for wanting it, but as long as we get that it's not really in our power to make our plan unfold like we want it, as long as we realize that really the control is all God's, I think we'll be in good shape.  That doesn't mean the outcome is going to be easy to swallow when a detour comes across our path, but I do think that letting go of the control makes it that much easier to accept what God brings, the good and the bad, and let Him work it all out for good for His glory.  


Anonymous said...

19 years ago, with three beautiful sons and trying for our fourth and final (or so we'd thought), we felt that God was leading us in a different direction, a direction of turning those reins over to Him. And so we attempted, and He blessed. At times through those years we've both had some trepidations and have attempted in various ways to take those reins back. However, words cannot tell how blessed our lives have been after the births of nine children altogether. One only lived 3 weeks, but as you would well know from your own experience, his life was also an inexpressible blessing. We've also had some miscarriages, but today we have, in addition to the ones who've gone to Jesus before us, eight precious children sharing life here on earth with us. Add to that number two daughters-in-law, two grandbabies and one grandbaby on the way, and all I can do is shake my head in gratitude that we should be so blessed. Has it always been easy? No way. Would I trade those hard times for fewer children? Not on your life.

Laurin said...

Loved reading your thoughts a/b this Angie. We've experienced both ends~wondering if a child would ever come and then having a sweet surprise when we definitely weren't planning nor thinking of another little one. In both seasons, I learned the Truth of just letting the plans of the Lord prevail. Not that they would not prevail anyways, but it's really a matter of the heart~rejoicing. rejoicing. rejoicing in His wondrous plans.

Laurie in Ca. said...

Great thoughts here Angie and so true. And I am sorry to say that I also see such competition among people regarding this, once again it is God who is in control of life. I love you girl and hope your days are filled with much joy along with the occasional mess kids make:)

Love and Hugs, Laurie

our family said...

As a mother that has endured seven miscarriages I totally get what you are saying. I am 37 weeks pregnant with our third girl (our other girls are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2) and I can't tell you how many people ask if we are going to have another baby. (Hello people I am 37 weeks pregnant right now I am thinking about having this baby!) We are so grateful for the three little miracles God has blessed us with and no we don't mind that this is another girl! We are so happy that she is healthy and that I have made it this far into my pregnancy. If God chooses to bless us with another child we will be thankful whether it is a boy or girl adopted or biological but for now we just take them one at a time and appreciate what we have been given!

KimN said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes...it;s wonderful to hear families seeking God's plan for children so early in their lives. my husband and I have four beautiful children and for many "logical" and some medical reasons we decided four was enough and took measures for permanent birth control. It only took me a year to figure out that there can never be too many blessings from God and we have begun a long journey back to having more children and waiting on God's timing....I carry a lot of guilt over our earlier decision and wonder if God will hold back from blessing us again because we didn't recognize His gifts earlier...
(Your niece is one of the most beautiful newborns I've ever seen. I love how happy you are for your sister...)

asplashofsunshine said...

I never really thought too much about spacing our own children or other people's children. Interesting prospective and insight, as always.

patty said...

It's funny that you wrote this, we were having this conversation with two of our children last night. I can't have anymore children, and we were discussing the Duggars and their plan (on letting God control the number of children they have). I wondered out loud how that would have worked out for us. I believe, that b/c of our method of birth control (or lack of), our family would look exactly the same--3 wonderful, almost grown kids who love the Lord--and my husband and me almost empty nesters looking forward to a few years of alone time since we started our family young. God is faithful in all things, I wish I had realized that sooner, even things that we don't think he wants to conrol or that we don't want to give over to him. He works it out perfectly :)

Tracy said...

I am so thankful for this post! I just found out I am pregnant with number three. The third in three years. Yes, thats right this time next year when someone asks "how old are your kids?" Ill actually say "one, two, three." YIKES!!! I cried all night when I found out. But, am accepting that this angle is the Lords. And I am called by Him to glorify Him in my parenting. Thanks so much for your thoughts.
a fellow control freak