Friday, January 20, 2012

I Want To Keep Thriving

Jennifer Fulwiler started a blog discussion about thriving by encouraging mothers of young children not to put off thriving. Arwen Mosher responded by saying that she was thriving, and thriving didn't mean society's image of fulfillment. Betty Beguiles mused on how in her experience of motherhood, there are seasons of want and seasons of plenty, and thriving looks different in each.

There's just one thing I want to say in response:

I don't want to go back.

Let me explain. When Julie turned a year old last September, I estimated that in the 9-and-a-half years since I first got pregnant, I had spent only 10 months of being BOTH not-pregnant AND without-a-baby-under-one1. 10 months, out of 9+ years. That's not very many seasons of plenty to go with those long seasons of want. Being four months, right now, into a season of having energy that most human beings would consider "normal", I can say that I don't want to go back.

  • I don't want to go back to having a house that is so filthy that I find myself cringing when I take a picture of the kids doing something cute, because the background is so awful.
  • I don't want to go back to getting out of breath if I have to bend over and pick something up, instead of spending 15 minutes dancing every morning and occasionally walking 5 miles to do errands instead of driving.
  • I don't want to go back to wearing baggy men's clothes because they're easier, instead of finally feeling like my cute, girly clothes show that I haven't given up on myself.
  • I don't want to go back to where I used the same knife for mayonnaise that I just used for peanut butter, because I couldn't bear the thought of having an extra butter knife to wash2.
  • I don't want to go back to having my prayer times consist of maybe 20 minutes - if I'm lucky and the kids don't interrupt me - of talking with God or reading Scripture, but probably not both. I love my hour-and-a-half morning cycle of intercessory prayer, rosary, praise & adoration, quiet listening, and Scripture or Catechism reading, all before the kids get up.
  • I don't want to go back to eating nothing but bread and dairy because of the nausea. I don't want to go back to where "peel an apple" or "steam some veggies" are steps that sound too exhausting to be realistic.
  • I don't want to go back to where I rarely, if ever, feel those sudden surges of love for my kids, that light up my life so intensely.

I don't want to go back. I want to keep thriving, in these ways and more.

I know God well enough that I trust Him. He's done enough for me so that I know whatever he asks of me will end up being good for me. When He asks me to get pregnant again, I'll say, "Yes, God." And I'll be happy about the baby. The children themselves are always worth it, and I would be disappointed if I never had any more.

But it scares me.

And I can see why other women, women who don't have the same kind of relationship with God that I have, or who don't have the same moral conviction about the importance of openness to children, would simply choose not to get pregnant again.

1. A lady once told me that she noticed that after having babies, she would experience a boost in energy at about 6 months postpartum, and another boost in energy at 1 year. Roughly speaking, I have found this true of myself as well. So I consider one year to be an acceptable gauge for when you begin to have energy levels that would otherwise be considered normal.

2. It reminds me of this article mentioning some things that keep poor people poor. Anything you might do to make more money requires having more money. Likewise, anything that you might do to get more energy requires having more energy.


  1. Oh my, I so get this. I just want to be NORMAL! Loving your blog Anna, and so glad I found it thru mine!

    1. Just to warn you, I stopped writing for this blog a couple years ago, so it doesn't have anything recent.

      As for this post... wow. I didn't even remember writing it, and reading it gives me a lot to think about. It's sort of ironic reading it right now, because I'm 9 months pregnant (my due date was two days ago)... So some of that stuff on the list, I'm right back there again.
      Can't bend over to pick stuff up? Check.
      Cringing at the messy backgrounds when I take pictures? Half-check... There's usually a mess, but the carpet itself is more likely to have been steam-cleaned free of spots.
      Short prayer times? Check, but at least I get my 20 minutes before the kids wake up.
      Peeling an apple is too much work? Check, but my kids can do that themselves now if they really want.

      I did spend some 4-ish years without being pregnant, and that did make a big difference in what I was capable of handling, my energy levels, and such. (Vitamin D helped a good bit too, there, for awhile.) But at the beginning of 2014, I had a miscarriage & my Dad got some bad news with his cancer, and between the two, I spent the year struggling with depression. It's only in the last month or two that I've started to feel like myself again. So, even though I'm 9 months pregnant, I still feel way more "thriving" and normal than I did before this pregnancy. Ultimately, the depression took more out of me than a pregnancy does, I suppose. Still looking forward to being able to stand up long enough to get stuff done, though! :)