It was starting to play out over and over again, like a broken record designed to bring my life into rather harsh perspective.
Sweet, older lady, who is a total stranger, all smiles and full of merriment:
“Oh, Santa’s going to bring you a baby for Christmas!”
Me, faking a smile for the 9,000th time:
“No, I don’t think so. The baby is due at the end of March.”
Aforementioned sweet, older lady looks some strange combination of aghast and disgust:
“Oh, well, my goodness! Really, are you sure? Is it twins? You look like you’re about to pop!”
Me, only doubting my ever-fading memory for a brief second:
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s our fourth baby…” hoping, in vain, that this will somehow forgive my haggard appearance, limping posture, and rotund waistline. Not to mention the three blond daughters under the age of seven wrestling in the corner.
“Well, bless your heart. You certainly have your hands full!”
Fake smile plastered on, the girls and I march forward.
I struggled with these comments this entire pregnancy. For the longest time, I could not figure out why these sweet, well-meaning strangers were aggravating me so much. Their intent certainly seemed pleasant enough, and honestly, what was I expecting them to say?
“Wow, you look awesome! Pregnancy really agrees with you. You seem to have your act together, not to mention you seem well rested and full of energy. And those girls! What angels! That one taking her clothes off and running into traffic is my favorite!”
I don’t think so.
This pregnancy, coupled with parenting Maggie Paige during this phase of her life, was my most humbling experience to date. I came face to face with my shortcomings each moment of each day, and grappling to accept them was nothing short of impossible. I found a great deal of self worth in being productive, helpful, and present in my day-to-day life, and this time around, I just could not seem to pull it off.
Maybe this humbling season was meant to teach me not to find my self worth in my ability to accomplish anything at all, and to be abundantly grateful for anything I can do. Maybe it is supposed to teach me to learn to say no and not feel guilty about it. To trust that those I love will know that my dedication is still there, even if it’s not shining through my actions. Maybe it was to finally teach me to truly be still and know… to know that my family is loved just as they are, regardless of how well we may or may not have it together during any one season of our lives.
I keep coming back to one resounding fact: this baby was not only our choice, but our dream for our family from before we were married. We knew it would be difficult, but imagining our lives without our four children was impossible. What breaks my heart the most is that there are women, all over the world, who don’t have a choice; who aren’t blessed with a loving husband, a supportive extended family, and a village helping them raise their children. Women who aren’t given the freedom and blessing to dream up their own picture of their family and watch as God helps it unfold. Women, who aren’t given the desires of their heart, for whatever reason, simply break mine in half.
I think that’s how I’ll respond the next time I cross paths with one of these well-meaning ladies, just bent on highlighting my myriad of insecurities:
“If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.”