This morning, before our assortment of store-bought cereals, homemade granola, and soy milk graced the kitchen table for breakfast, and before our family of four prayed together to begin the day, my four-year-old was asking my two-year-old a problematic question.
“How much children do you want to have?” she asked.
There are two things wrong with this question in addition to the obvious problem of discussing parenting at such a young age:
#1. My daughter’s use of the word “much” instead of “many” and
#2. Her assumption that children will come.
Okay, she’s only four. I should give her a grammar break, begin drilling her on appropriate word usage next year. I certainly can’t wait too much longer. I want her to know the right way so that when she wants to use “much” instead of “many” she’ll do so intentionally and purposefully. Although, I can’t imagine a reason why anyone would want to.
Words aside, #2 seems a little rough, right? But after two miscarriages, I’m not as romantic about pregnancy.
Yes, pregnancy is a good thing. And more so, it’s a miracle. Honestly. There are so many things that can both make it impossible to get pregnant and cause a fetus to stop breathing. Even the woman with the calmest, off-the-grid, granola existence can not get pregnant. And the couple that has the nursery ready, the support system fully in place, and the deepest unconditional love in their hearts also steps into the indescribable pain of a still birth.
Getting and then staying pregnant all the way to a successful birth is an absolute miracle.
So, I want to raise both my daughters with some level of miracle language that steps far back from the picture perfect post-birth moment where the baby is in its mothers arms and the mother’s face is dripping with happy tears, cheeks still aglow with pregnancy hormones or makeup. I want to teach them that wanting a child or six is absolutely fine and that it may not happen.
And that if it does happen, I’ll rejoice with them. And that if it doesn’t happen, I’ll cry with them. Either way, their value will neither increase nor decrease in my eyes or the eyes of their dad or their Creator. They will not be less-than, even if they feel as if their body has failed them. They will still be a reflection of the image of God. They will still be capable of unconditional love.
I’ll teach them that if Mother’s Day comes too soon after a loss, it’s ok for them to be angry and/or cry. They don’t have to take the flower given to all women sitting in a worship service or the bag of chocolates. They can actually say no to the little children handing them out.
They’re allowed to sit in their pain and they’re allowed to ask for help.
I won’t give them funny looks or send awkward text messages if they decide to talk, once again, about their (attempts at) motherhood story. I’ll teach them to talk about it as much or as little as they choose as long as the speaking or the silence is helpful to them. I will not tell them to forget the unborn, the still born, the wished for. I will not tell them not to memorialize their baby. I will not tell them not to name them or to remove their due date from the app on their phone. I won’t instruct. I’ll let them mourn. I’ll give them space to feel deeply.
At least I’ll try really hard.
And, if they choose to try again, I’ll step right back into the journey with them, with all the faith and hope that carried me through to their arrivals.
But until then, I’d appreciate it if they’d stick to simple things like melting down because they’d rather have oatmeal for breakfast and toast with peanut butter and jelly because cold cereal is an inferior substance. Tantrums are okay. Tantrums are four-year-old material. Dear ones, please stay in your lane.