Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why so many?

Most of the reactions we've received from people about Christopher have been wonderful.  We are so blessed to have so many loving and accepting friends, friends who are jumping for joy with us.  

Along with that, however, we also repeatedly get asked "how are you going to do it?!?!" or "are you done NOW?"

Or, as one 11-year old friend of the family asked me, "Why do you want so many?"*

*(I realize that 5 kids is really not a lot compared to some large families, but around here, more than 4 puts you on the bus to Looneyville).

It's actually hard for me to articulate.  Or, I should say, I can tell you if you want to sit down and have an hour-long conversation.  It is very hard to explain in a one-line answer.

I could go all Duggar on you and say "I think children are blessings."  And that would be true, but that is not all of it.  I think that modern medicine is a blessing, too, but I don't want to be a doctor.

I could tell you "I just love kids, " and that would be true also.  But many people love kids and have only two or three.  Or use their passion in their careers as teachers or coaches, etc.

Or, I could tell you about the orphan crisis, about how there are approximately 147 million orphans in the world, and that I find it ironic that so many of my well-meaning American friends worry about our environment but have never thought about the millions of children who inhabit our planet without families.  Without medical care or education or love.

But, that answer makes it sound like I am some kind of saint.  And I am not.  I am positive I am uninformed about some other atrocity going on, some other important work I should be doing to make this world a better place.  I am selfish and lazy and just a regular person who make mistakes.

But, all of these reasons:  my liking kids, my seeing them as a blessing rather than a burden, the fact that I had the opportunity to meet real orphans myself, to see them as Elijah and Ben and Laura rather than as the abstract "Orphan" -- all of that worked together to make me want to keep adding to our family.

Oh, and there is also my faith.  

And this is the part that would take a really long to explain.  A few others to whom I've have spoken seem to be really wrapped up in fear.  I have heard questions about how we plan to send them all to college, or about the unknowns in our kids' diagnoses or their genetics.  Or simply questions about how on earth I will keep the house clean and, of course, continue to homeschool.

The old me would have wanted answers to those questions, too.  Solid, specific answers written on a timeline in color coded markers with a key.  I loved to plan.  I think it made me feel in control when I could get it all down on paper and see how things were going to happen.

Except they didn't.  At least not in the way I had planned.  The most glaring example of this was when John and I lost many pregnancies.   That was not at all what I had planned.  Along with grief and pain, I felt utterly frustrated and out-of-control.

Now, I see how the most painful times of my life led me to God (on a very roundabout, indirect path)  That has changed my life in many many way, but the most profound, perhaps, is that I no longer feel such a strong desire to plan and to control.  Along with that, I no longer have to worry or fear that things won't work out my way.

I now believe that every situation in life can go one of two ways:  it can work out the way we wish. As in, I really hope this pregnancy is a healthy one and it ends with a bundle of joy.  And that is great.  I love when things work out that way. Don't we all?

Or the situation goes another way. As in, the pregnancy ends in miscarriage, or there is a poor prenatal diagnosis, or an injury incurred during birth, or a major medical need, etc. (there is always an infinite number or ways for things to go "wrong").  But what is cool is that this is great, too.  
It always ends up great.  
Yes, because of the cliched "you learn from it," but also because, as I have discovered, grace and blessing come from weakness.  From lying on the floor weeping and admitting defeat.  From giving everything over to God.  From relinquishing control.  From radical acceptance of what is.

"Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you've been given, the door will open.  - Rumi

I know others could argue with me about cases when everything does not end up perfectly.  But, I choose to believe that we cannot see the whole story all of the time.  That we cannot understand God's reasons.  And I also believe that the story does not always end within our lifetimes.

Of course, I have moments of doubt.  Moments of wanting things to go easily and to go my way.  Of course, the regrets from the past and the fear of "what if…" from the future sneak their way into my mind at times.  But, I have become much better at being "vigilant about pulling my mind back from the brink of panic," as Geneen Roth says in her book Lost and Found (which I'm reading it now and loving, BTW).  

It's like, as Buddhist monk Pema Chodron says "sitting at the Grand Canyon with a grocery bag over your head and suddenly realizing that you have the choice to take it off." Life has suddenly become so much easier.  So much more beautiful. 

And, it is not just the Eastern religions and philosophers that have suggested this way of thinking.  As a new Christian, I was surprised and excited to see that the Bible tells us to stop worrying, too. Philippians 4:6 tells us: "Do not be anxious about anything , but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

I choose to listen to Jesus when he says "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). 

And it is only as I do this that I jump into parenting many kids.  Yes, I love kids, and, yes, they are blessings.  And there definitely are too too many orphans, and I can do something about that (so can you!). 

But I mostly do it because I am not scared.  I know it won't be easy, but it can be done.  And when I ask myself that famous question, "what would you do if you weren't afraid?" the answer is always the same:  I'd be a mom of many.  

So here I am.