In yet another moment of motherly frustration this weekend, I thought to myself, sarcastically, "Why did I have kids, again?" It's a question my husband and I ask each other often, as we tease one another over the silly and genuinely difficult things our kids do on any given day.
It wasn't until that moment, however, that I heard God speak to me about how accurately that question reflects our culture's view of children. Because implicit in such an inquiry is the idea that we had these kids for us. For our benefit, our joy and as our accomplishments. Yet, so often, they bring us just the opposite - hardship, anger and a sense of failure.
So, it's a legitimate question, really. Why did we have kids? Why does anyone have kids?
If I took a truthful look back at that moment early in our marriage when we excitedly decided we were throwing caution to the wind and taking that next big step, I would tell you I had no better reason than that's what it felt like we should do. Because I didn't plan out this life beyond going to college, so I was kind of winging it. Here we were, young, in love, past that difficult, difficult battle called the first year of marriage. We had bought a house because, well, we thought that's what adults do. The next obvious step looked like kids.
And, yeah, the idea of a little baby to snuggle sounded kind of fun, too.
So, with reckless abandon, we jumped into the decision to make us a little person and were blessed with an instantaneous pregnancy. And I had no idea what I was getting into.
Because here's what no one really told me. Kids aren't just something you do or "the next step." And if you want something adorable to snuggle who is easy to train and will love you unconditionally, get a dog.
That is NOT why we have children.
But if you want to have a significant part in growing up the generation that will come after us, to lead our nation, create the next big innovations, raise the standards of our culture and continue to grow the generations after them, then by all means - go to it.
And that's what our society seems to misunderstand when they see mothers and their babies.
Children are NOT accessories.
They're not something we get because we think it'll be fun. They're not to be discarded when they're too difficult to handle. We don't surround ourselves with just the right number, as if there IS a right number. Because, truth be told, I can't handle four children - I can barely handle one some days.
But God doesn't give us what He thinks we can handle - only what He knows He can handle.
And when I rely on Him and recognize my children as real, live, imperfect people, living under the sinful consequences of the fall, I can see those little frustrations, not as personal setbacks to my own happiness, but as jumping off points to create character, in both myself and in them.
I can see them as individuals with personalities who are only mine to borrow, as I take on the task of guiding them where God leads. They will grow and, with God's help, develop into independent people with their own thoughts and ideas that may not always match mine.
But that's ok.
Because that's not why I had children.