Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When dreaming is hard

Mr. M and I have been attending a neat monthly program at a retreat center near us. It's geared toward newlyweds and each month there's a different speaker on a newlywed-pertinent topic (in-laws, intimacy, etc.). This month the topic was finances. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in the evening because I was hoping for some nitty-gritty tips on budgets and long-term financial planning, things like that. We did get some of that, but the couple presenter team (who also give talks on openness to life) spent a fair amount of time encouraging us newlyweds that having a big family and having one parent stay home is totally doable. Inside my heart is groaning, "Please don't go there...."

I guess some of the attendees needed to hear that message, judging by some of their comments and questions. And I get that in our culture, not working outside the home is often viewed as ridiculous. And of course "big" families for many people is more than 2 children. I get all that. It's just not the message I needed to hear because it's exactly what I want and don't have. More than anything else in the whole world, I want a big family and I want to be a stay-at-home mom. And I want it now, please! My heart longs for that with an intensity that is painful. And that's exactly what we don't have right now, despite our best efforts. So during a lot of the talk I was engaged in putting my mind elsewhere to not feel the stab of the knife: "Really, being a stay-at-home mom is so fun!" "Kids aren't that expensive. And they're such a blessing!" "Our first child was unexpected - surprise! - but she's a joy every day" etc. etc. (I don't mean to mock the speakers - they really are lovely people. Their points were just not what I needed to hear - and were also not helping me with our family economics!)

Then toward the end, they gave us three questions to discuss with our spouse. The first were fine, kind of bland and basic. But the last one struck a chord. They wanted us to imagine that we're sitting at our dinner table in 10 years: "Look around. What do you see? How many people are there? What kind of house?" etc. etc. I get that this type of mental exercise can help in financial planning, to know how much you want to save/invest/spend to achieve your dream. But man! I could not take it. Because I'm so scared that I'll be at that table in 10 years, look around, and it's still just me and Mr. M. (And maybe a dog?) I love Mr. M with all my heart and then some - but I'd like some little Ms to be there too! I just could not do this 10-year dream thing without feeling the sting of tears in my eyes and feeling fear that my dearest, most precious dream of motherhood won't come true. That in 10 years I'll still be as barren as I am now.

I even raised my hand and said: "Can you be more specific? Because a lot of things are beyond our control, and you can't just plan for them." I hope I wasn't too strident; maybe none of the other newlyweds is in my shoes at all. But the whole dream exercise struck me as overly presumptuous, as if we can plan for every contingency, down to how many children we want around our table.

So I guess something I want to ponder is: is this a bad thing that my heart is not open to dreaming long-term? And what do I do with my dearest dreams? Right now I'm mentally hiding them away behind a locked door because they're too beautiful and too painful to contemplate. Am I lacking hope? That's concerning. Jesus, please give me more hope. Hope that I'll sit at my table in 10 years and be a holier, happier woman, despite everything and anything.



  1. To be honest, I think you brought up a good point at that meeting. Our culture is so much about business and planning and there are certain things that are out of .your control. This whole childless journey has taught me so much about letting go of control and trying to plan when we would have children.

  2. I agree! I wouldn't have thought anything of the "how many kids do you want around your table in 10 years" comment pre-fertility struggles. I get that prudence is a virtue and especially with finances we can and should make wise decisions, but illness happens and infertility happens and we need to know how to let go of our plans too. Basic Discipleship, I think. Not that it's easy!

  3. Such a beautiful post.
    For a very long time--late high school and most of college--I struggled with the "what will life be like in 10 years?" question. I didn't know what I wanted to major in, to do after college, and I was discerning whether I was called to marriage or not. Then I started dating Chuck, and then we got engaged--and finally! I had my picture. He would be a doctor, I'd be a stay at home mom, we'd have at least 4-5 kids by the 10 year mark. I suppose that is still a possibility--we got engaged less than 2.5 years ago, so we have time... but obviously its not looking to be likely. I can't picture "10 years from now" anymore.

    But you're right. We should try to look at whether we'll be holier and happier--not what our house and our families will look like.

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