How many children do you want?
Maggie started it, Sarah continued it, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon.
Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote about the guilt and wonder that I felt over my desire to not have children. Little did I know, I was about to go through one of the roughest patches of my life and in the process have a reversion to and new understanding of my Catholic Faith.
As I reread the words I wrote, I see a girl who had just cause for discerning that it is not time for children. And, as Elizabeth wrote today, I too am a planner and always felt that I had to plan out my life. And I felt I needed an answer to the question of "When are you going to have children?". While in my heart I knew better than to never say never (hence the wonder part of my previous post), I didn't understand the discernment process that comes with the decision to have children - in fact, we were still contracepting so it wasn't a topic The Man and I talked about on a regular basis. It came up, but usually when someone else started pushing the issue/asking the question. Now, thanks to NFP, it comes up frequently.
I wrote recently about the sting of the question "When will you start a family?" The question "How many children do you want?" doesn't sting so much, but both create a similar feeling. I don't have the issue of 'wanting' a big family, we still haven't discerned that it is time for a child, I just find both questions to be very personal. Last week after Mass when a fellow parishoner asked "why not?" when we said that we didn't have any children, I was momentarily paralyzed (and extremely grateful for the interruption of Kate's adorable kids!). Do I say 'because at this time we have discerned that we have just cause for postponing children.'? Something tells me this just isn't the way to make friends, but how else would I answer that question? That said, it is time that I admit to asking/saying many of the things that Maggie listed. I never meant them in a hurtful way, but now I see that they could sound very judgmental. My heart hurts to know that I may have hurt friends or strangers by being thoughtless as to the question I was asking, regardless of my intent.
As I've reverted to my Catholic Faith, I also see that I had an open heart to what God may have in store. And the guilt and wonder are still there, just in a different way. Or maybe not really different, just better understood and articulated.
So, while my reason for struggling with the question of "How many children do you want?" may differ from Maggie and Sarah's, I find that my answer can be the same - "As many as God wants to give us". It may be that God gives us none, and while I'm sure it seems crazy to some of you, I would be okay with that. And as those words appear on my screen, the guilt fills my heart and I offer it up for those of you who want more than anything to be parents and are struggling. But, it may also be that God gives us one or many, and I would be okay with that too. For as much as I like to plan and think that I have a say, this is one area that I, for whatever reason, trust God with.
Now I just need a good answer to the question "Why don't you have children?".