Saturday, 26 July 2014

Unplanned Parenthood

I’ve got all these thoughts on babies and “openness to life” floating around in my head. Having two kids so closely together has sort of lumped us into the “large families” category, even though two isn’t really that large. But of course if we managed to crazily produce two within 12 months of each other, who knows what madness we’re capable of!

Although I’m passionate about natural family planning (NFP), going into long explanations about trying to live a life, to have a marriage, that is open to life is never something that I’ve wanted to get into in the fleeting situations that bring up most of the comments about our intended family size. I usually just smile and say something affirmative when people assume we’re trying for a lot of kids, but lately I’ve started to be honest. And my honesty seems to be putting people into a position of not knowing what to say next. How many kids do we want?

We don’t know.

Crazy, isn’t it? In a culture that is so heavy about planning your [perfect] family, we’re operating without a plan.

Sure, numbers get bandied about. I always liked the idea of having four kids. Two girls and two boys. David, meanwhile, teases me about double digits. But we’ve never come up with a number at which we’ll look at our family and say “now it’s complete”. I don’t think we ever will. It sounds like the opposite of everything my organized, plan-loving heart wants, but it’s actually very freeing to not have this all planned out. I am too easily trapped by my own plans. I don’t shift gears that well and often have to remind myself that a change is ok. So planning NOT to have a plan actually works great for me, because it makes it easier for me to handle reality.

My pregnancy with Emily did rock my confidence with how much I thought I knew about my body. I’d had a choice to make – follow the advice my instructor had given me, prior to Walter’s birth, if I wanted to keep using the method to prevent pregnancy during that tricky period after birth/breastfeeding, or take a gamble in assuming things were back to normal before they were. But you know what? A surprise pregnancy at a time in life when most people would’ve said having kids was the dumbest thing ever was NOT the end of the world. There are moments when being a mom is so utterly exhausting and thankless that it feels like the end of the world, but now that this first year and chapter of “two under two” is drawing to a close it’s getting better & better. I’m glad that God had other ideas to my more rigid plans on child spacing. Emily took all the broken pieces of last year and made them work together, providing our family with a way of staying together while giving David the chance to finish his PhD. When I look at how everything has worked out so far it is so clearly God’s planning, not ours, just in the perfection of each little event that had to happen at just the right moment in time.

Crazy, messy life but totally worth it -- and hard to believe that was almost a year ago!!


  1. Oo! It's true! We don't really know how may kids we want, though probably 4+. When my dental hygienist was telling me yesterday how surprised she was that her friend had a third, the next moment my mouth was free I confessed that I love kids and would love to have four to six, though that might sound crazy. "Oh yes, well, it's very expensive," I was swiftly informed. On the other hand, last week at the grocery store the cashier was saying that she had never been pregnant in the summer months, to which I casually and without thinking made the off-hand comment, "That was well planned," to which she protested that none of her children had been planned. I wanted to rejoice with her but instead meekly acknowledged that it's more fun that way. What a strange culture we live in!

  2. I really enjoyed this post - also that photo of you reminds me of young LeAnna - it's how I see you in my mind.

    I hung out with some friends last night and their three very small children. We talked, enjoyed a great meal and great conversation, their kids were polite at times and crazy, boisterous at times, and both were great. As the kids ran around the room being cute, we realized that what would like like chaos of one just walked in, was actually really lovely and how frustrating it was that so much of our culture would find that scene unacceptable or bad - when we were all so happy to be there, and happy to have the kids racing back and forth playing too.

    1. I am a lot more sympathetic to other mothers now, because there is always so much more to the situation than what appears to be the case. I try to keep the kids at a level of behavior acceptable to the situation at hand. But that's not always possible, and when they start freaking out in an inappropriate place (like a restaurant or on an airplane), it is way more helpful when other people are gracious about it rather than rude! As others have pointed out, they're not just "children", they are individual humans and thus can be as unpleasant as any other human on the planet!