Yesterday Graydon and I went to cub scout day camp. We left our three boys at two houses (BIG deal), left at 7:00 am, and didn't get back until 3:30 pm. We have a great group of four Webelos. I came home feeling happy, recharged, in love with my husband. You see, I got to look at his face, yesterday. Multiple times. I got to communicate with him without words, yesterday. I fell in love with his handsome face and brilliant blue eyes, all over, again.
Then we came home. He went in one room, I'd follow him there to spend time with him, a young boy would scream and need help in another room, he'd leave... repeat that until bedtime. I hardly saw him once we were back home. Because we have children.
I told that to him before we fell asleep; how refreshing it was to spend time with him and have some fun before we came home. It was the first date we've had in a VERY long time. (Yes, I just called a day camp with four ten year old boys and my husband a date. Ha.)
Then Benny, our four year old, who we made the mistake of getting to take a nap at around 5:00 at night, would not go to sleep. Because Graydon was leaving at 1:00 am to go to work, I decided to try to get Benny to sleep, even though Graydon is usually the one to do it (super-man). I went in, got him in bed, calmed him down, then came back into our room... and heard his door open, again. So I went in, snuggled him down, and fell asleep. And woke up at 12:00 am to the kitchen and living room lights on and him playing. At 12:30 am Graydon finally interceded, and Benny finally went to sleep.
And that chronicles one of the many nights my husband and I don't even share our bed. Because we have children.
I thought to myself, "At least he'll sleep in." NO, at 7:30 am, bright and early, he woke up with everyone else. And just because he was awake does not mean he was happy -- I spent the next hour listening to banshee screaming. Incessant banshee screaming. Kicking of feet, head-on-floor banging tantrum.
Becoming a mother was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
|How I felt about the recent Time Cover Story|
in sub-par photography and a headline of my own.
With that preamble, I feel like I can get into the
I haven't actually read all of it, because I don't have enough money for the subscription, because I have children.
It's actually featuring a series of articles from multiple women at multiple ages who decided not to have children and want to tell the world they're happy they didn't. They're lives are better without children. They aren't made for motherhood.
In my opinion, they're desperately trying to add value to their decision.
So, I started thinking about what my life would be like without children. You ready for a list? Here goes:
I would have a career.
I am an awesome employee. (Just sayin'.) When something needs fixing, I fix it. When a Standard Operating Procedure needs writing, I write it. When a study needs turning around, I do it. When quality controls need tweaking(or adding), and monitoring, they pass with flying colors. When something needs scrubbed, I scrub it. I walk fast, I work hard. I do my very best, and I turn things around when they need it.
My last employer tried to convince me to commute four hours each day just so she could keep me on the project I had worked on. And I would have, if I hadn't had children.
I would have money.
Money, money, money, ain't it funny? Conjecturing with my husband, life without our children would be very much wealthier. We could have spent the whole year we wanted to in Germany. We could have finished school at the same time. By now, we both could have been done with graduate school. We both could have worked while we studied, so our debt would be significantly smaller. We would both have careers, and we would probably be making somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000, yearly.
I would have value.
I would be published. I'm not the least intelligent person in the world, so I could probably be part of seriously life changing research. I could be traveling the world, speaking at conferences. I would see other adults, every day, who appreciated who I was and the work I was doing. With a PhD, I could be at the top of the Chemistry totem pole. The world would recognize me. I would have value in the eyes of the world. A lot of it.
I had an especially hard time adjusting to at-home life after work because of this. Because I have children, I hardly see other adults. My kids don't notice what I do. I don't get any praise. In the world's eye, I am little more than a leach. Motherhood is value-less. In the eyes of the world.
I could be skinny.
I lost a lot of weight in Germany. I could still be thin and sexy and all that (BTW, my husband still thinks I'm sexy, anyway). I could wear whatever I wanted, and I my smashing body would look great in it. No kids to get in the way of my exercise routine, no pregnancies to give me seemingly-insurmountable baby fat. None of that. Thin.
My bathroom would not smell of pee.
Potty training boys. Boys that are potty trained. Still, the smell of pee is everywhere. Not so, if I didn't have children. My house would always be clean. No toys strewn all over the floor. No toddler sized clothing piled in the living room. None of that. Kids are messy. They are explorers. The carpets would be a lot cleaner if they weren't around.
No tantrums. No crying. No whining.
The hardest thing for me is when my sweet young ones just aren't happy. Inconsolable. Tantrums from sun-up to sun-down. By the end of the day, I feel like a frayed rope. Having children is emotionally draining.
I could actually sleep. And nap. Sleep.
Sleep. Mmmm. I remember the long lost days when the only reason I hadn't slept was because I chose to read a book, or study, or play a game, or watch a TV show. I remember staying up late, late, late, for fun, by my choice, at my convenience. And when I slept, I stayed sleeping. Until morning. Mmmmm.
I would be able to go on dates with my husband. We could fulfill all our dreams: We would be able to go to disneyland together for the first time, ever. And many more times. We would be able to go to Hawaii on our anniversary. We would be able to go back to Germany. Italy. Scotland. We could travel. We could date. We could relish all our time alone, together.
I would be content with who I was.
To help illustrate this point, I would like to refer you to a blog post by one of my favorite fellow-bloggers, Ana at Time Flies when You're Having Babies:
"The point is that these kids bring the the worst parts in me and then they have to deal with them.
But I try to think of it like they are like little florescent flashlights that God has given me to shine on all the sick, sinful parts of who I am. I feel like each kid has been a brighter light and shown me more and more how much work I need."
If I didn't have children, I would be able to focus on all the good parts of myself. You know, all those parts I bragged about, earlier. As things stand, I see daily how much more patience I need to develop, how much better I need to be at keeping things clean, how I need to yell less, how spanking really isn't the answer. How my words affect my children. How much more I need to focus my attention on them. How I need to fill my time better with meaningful things, both for myself and for them.
One of the authors whose article I read states something along the lines of, I never wanted to be a mother, I alway knew I wouldn't be a good mother. To you, dear sister, I share my laughter. Because I am a terrible mother. I will admit, I always wanted children (even when I didn't want a husband), but that doesn't change the fact that I just don't know how to be a mother. But I'm learning.
In Ether 12:27, the Lord counsels us:
"And if men come until me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
I said I would be content with who I was. Perhaps a better way to say it: I would be complacent about who I was. No need for improvement, no need for progression, at least outside my worldly endeavors.
I wouldn't laugh nearly as often.
Whether they're trying on hats, trying on big shoes, climbing shelves, hiding under couches, putting too much food in their mouths at one time; whatever they're doing, these boys make me laugh daily. Multiple times.
I'm not taling about the snicker or giggle or 'lol' that comes from a witty colleague or TV show, or a particularly striking facebook update or even a very entertaining ecard. The laughter my children inspire in me isn't fleeting, it's fulfilling.
My heart would be a quarter the size it is now.
I had a great discussion with my step mom about a month ago, where she mentioned that a woman just can't grasp the all-encompassing love that fills a mother. A woman doesn't know how much love she is capable of until she holds her first - and second - and third child, gazes into their eyes, and wonders at the miracle of this new little life. The more children I have, the bigger my heart grows to capacitate the new love that fills me.
This leads me to one of my favorite Doctor Who scenes. It's from The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.
Here's the trailer.
You can watch it on Netflix here.The Doctor(after an entire forest of trees enters Madge's head, and he's told 'she's strong'):
"She's strong? She's strong? Oh. Ohh! Stupid me! Stupid old Doctor! Do you get it, Cyril?"
"Lily, you do, don't you?"
"Course you do. Think about it. Weak and strong. It's a translation, translated from the base code of nature, itself. You and I, Cyril, we're weak. But she's female! More than female, she's mum! How else does life ever travel? The mother ship!"
I could be divorced.
I certainly love my husband. Having said that, I have my weaknesses, and he has his. We knock heads multiple times. I'm sure I'm one of the very few women who can say we've had some nasty arguments in the last five years.
I grew up with divorce... multiple divorces, so the statistics are against me. I'm very likely to also be divorced. That statistic has weighed heavily on me for much of my life. Maybe it has affected my way of thinking, to the point that I often consider, 'Maybe it would be better (=easier) just to give up now and go our separate ways. Maybe he could be happier without me. His life would be better without me.'
There have been a few occasions when I probably would have got up, walked out, and never come back, had it not been for my children. Of course, one of the reasons is that I wouldn't want to leave them behind, but it's more than that. Having children has increased my love for my husband. He isn't just a man, he isn't even just a husband, anymore. He is a father. With each child, my heart grows with love for that child, but it grows even more with added love for my husband. Sure, we still clash. Sure, we don't get to spend as much 'quality time' alone, together.
Even so, the perspective change that motherhood has given me has inspired me to fight through every difficulty alongside my husband. Not against him. As a result of that, I have been able to grow and change, he has been able to grow and change, and we have grown and changed in such a way that has ultimately brought us closer to one another and to our Heavenly Father. And we will continue to grow closer to one another and to God, because of our children.
My snuggle meter would be empty.
Seriously. Even if we were't divorced, if we didn't have kids, I'm relatively certain we would find other distractions from each other. I'd say roughly 90% of the snuggles I get every day are from my three young boys. I love snuggles from my sweetheart -- In fact, I need them, but my young ones make up all the difference. One of the first words my little George learned was 'Nuggle.' I can't even put into words how that makes me feel; How much I love hearing him say that!
I would be unfulfilled.
If I didn't have children, my life would be a lot simpler, and a lot more glamorous. I would have the ability to do whatever I wanted at my leisure. If things got hard, I could just leave them behind (I'm a run-away-er. It's something I've learned about myself since having children.). I would never have to face myself - I could focus on all of my talents and abilities and not worry about ways I might be able to improve my character.
Ultimately, I would be empty. My children are an integral part of who I am. They fill my heart with gladness, joy, love, all the good things that come with motherhood.
I would not be as close to my Savior.
Some of life's experiences that have blessed me with greater faith in my Savior and reliance on his goodness and love have happened since I became a mother.
It came when my son was three floors down and fighting for his life, and the Spirit taught me that angels were with him, ministering to him, and that with faith, he would he healed.
It came when I knelt, frozen with fear, terrified of all that my sons would have to face without me to shield and protect them, and I knew that the Savior would, that he loved them even more than I ever could, and that he would be at their side through every trial and every storm.
It came as I knelt at their bedside, and was overcome with gratitude at the beautiful miracles they Lord gave me, and the trials he gave me that he knew would help me grow closer to him.
In Matthew 6:33, the Savior counsels: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."(Emphasis added)
In Luke 18:16, he says: "...Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."(Emphasis added)
By choosing our children over whatever benefits or comfort life without them would offer, we choose the kingdom of God over the kingdom and will of man.
And finally, in Matthew 6:19-21, the Lord counsels: