OK, now I can talk.
I was extremely honored to have the privilege of speaking to a group of women last evening at a nearby church, and it was a delightful experience; but the time spent there and the times of preparation during the past however-many-days meant that I was silent here on the blog.
No matter. It was a worthwhile trade-off. :)
But now that it's over, my thoughts have turned again to the things I want to share here in this space, and my fingers have found their familiar places on the keyboard as I punch the keys to capture some of the workings of my mind. It's nice to be back. :)
The title of this post is a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I'm not sure how profound my thought really is, but it was revelatory to me. :)
To set the scene, I have to go back in time and place to the years we lived in Israel. One day in the early 2000s, my good friend Irina and I were standing alongside Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, looking out toward the Mediterranean, and discussing how many children we might possibly end up having. At the time, we each had one--my Josiah is exactly 6 months younger than her David, and they were great little buddies.
After talking for a while, Irina and I, with laughter in our voices, agreed that since one child was taking up all of our time, two children or more couldn't possibly take up any more than that, so we might as well go ahead and have as many children as we wanted because, regardless of number, all our time was going to be occupied anyway! :)
As it turned out, she ended up with three and I, of course, with six; and although I haven't talked with her for quite a long time, I'm confident her days are still busy and full. Mine certainly are. :)
After David was born, I did spend time with Jeff, and I did household tasks, and I had a little time for myself; but caring for David and Josiah consumed many hours of my day.
I could--but won't, thank goodness!--repeat the same refrain after the addition of each of my children. It's still accurate today: I spend time with Jeff, I do household tasks, I have a little time for myself, but caring for my children (and now obviously homeschooling is a big part of that) consumes most of my day, every day.
As I juggle the needs of all six of my children now, I sometimes look back to the earlier me and think, "Surely I had more free time when I only had one or two children!" But somehow, the needs of children expand to fill the available time, and I really don't think I had an abundance of unoccupied time, five children ago! ;-)
But here's the thing: one isolated day in my role now versus my role a decade ago might not be much different, but the number of years that my time will be filled with the needs of my children will be vastly different.
If God had only given me two children, I would be on the downhill slope of the time-intensive, hands-on phase of mothering; but by continuing to have children, I kept jumping back to the starting line and beginning the marathon of parenting all over again. I'm nowhere close to the finish line! And believe me, I am OK with that!! This post isn't meant as a complaint--just an observation. :)
In my case, having six children means that, for 14+ years straight, I have been changing diapers every day (we've never gotten our children fully potty-trained before the next one was born). It means that, for 14+ years straight, I have almost certainly heard some crying every day. It means that, even as I'm discussing with my firstborn which colleges he might want to consider attending, I'm wondering when my baby will ever decide to crawl, or scoot, or somehow locomote on his own. (Not that I'm complaining about his lack of movement. It's much easier to set him down and know that he'll stay basically in one place!!) :)
It means that, instead of this labor-intensive children-at-home phase of life being a proportionally short part of my life, it is quite a long part.
You know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. :)
My respect and admiration for them has always been high, but it soared even more when I realized that they are sort of like marathon runners who get close to the end of their 26.2 miles...and then say, "Hey, this is so meaningful and fun that we think we'll keep going and run a second marathon! Why not??" :) They just pushed their parental finish line waaaaayyyyy down the road (and of course, I realize that parenting never ends; there is no parental finish line, but just go with me here). :)
If Benjamin "leaves home" when he's 18 (although for goodness' sake, I hope he comes home often to visit!!), I will have spent 31 years of my life caring for my children at home.
I have some friends who, as their children have gotten older and less demanding of their mothers' time, have turned their attention to other pursuits--not to the point of neglecting their children at all, but simply enjoying the chance to put to use some of the other gifts and talents they have. It's been fun to talk to them and hear what they've passionately pursued, after the being-pregnant, giving-birth, nursing-babies, watching-toddlers stage.