A Mom to Many in Theory Only

Artsy1-w350I can’t help but laugh at myself every time I see my kids prancing around the house, at least one of them naked, one of them screaming, and one of them careening with a bang. I watch them, basking in life and burning off their before-bed energy, and I turn my mind to heaven, to the humor God certainly has in my life.

I was never going to be a mother.

The reasons were many and don’t really matter. The fact was that I was “liberated” and career-centric. I was going to set the world on fire and make a difference and not be bogged down by all the restrictions of a family.

And then I met my husband. And became Catholic.

Slowly—oh so slowly—my heart thawed. How could it not, surrounded by nieces who showered me with unconditional giggles and unrestricted hugs? How could I remain uninspired by parenthood when I saw this man I would marry in the family chaos of love? What chance did my “never to be a mom” self stand when hammered with the gentle persuasion of words never said and actions spoken clearly?

Fifteen years later, I’m still amused (and more than a little shocked) to find that motherhood is neither boring nor restrictive. I’ve learned more in the nine years as Mom than I did in the seven years I spent at major universities getting diplomas.

I can now negotiate with that veritable foe and bringer-downer-of-many-people, the Whiny Toddler. You’ll find me, off-tune and sounding terrible, singing every night to an audience of three people who think I sound better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I’ve learned to communicate with opposite personality types, kiss stinky feet and invisible boo-boos, and allow messes to take over the table.

I laugh more than I ever have, and it’s a cleansing kind of experience. Turning around to see my three-year-old mancub either naked or standing on the counter is an opportunity for both social networking sharing AND for thanking God for the lack of boring in my life. Brushing my six-year-old princess’s hair before school and observing her colorful (and mismatched) outfit is a chance to see fashion in a whole new light. And discussion life matters with my nine-year-old, and then sharing inside jokes, sure tops conversations at a water cooler or complaining behind a filing cabinet.

About a year ago, I realized that I long for a lot of kids. I could fill my house and the neighbor’s and even the barn. Bring em on!

Except…

Well, for reasons that are not fit for public sharing, we won’t be having a lot of kids. We have three. And I’m so very blessed and happy by them. They have changed my world and continue to stretch me into the person God has in mind.

That extra place I may not be setting just yet? The little sorrow I may feel about not having to juggle another car seat? The pang I have when I tuck the small socks into a giveaway bin for a nephew?

I’m trying to see these as a gift, too. I’m struggling to work through the sorrow that may be festering within me. I’m leaning back into God’s arms and letting him carry me.

And I’m also embracing my call to spiritual motherhood. I’m not “done” with my three kids. Not only do I have a passel of nieces and nephews, but I have seminarians and deacons, priests and religious, friends and family members. There are people who need mothering, however ill-equipped I may feel.

They need hot meals. They need encouragement. They need prayer.

I can do this. I can negotiate with a Small Naked Boy Who’s Whining, after all. Bring on the rest!


Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism. Check out all of her books at http://sarahreinhard.com/writing/my-books/.

Visit Sarah’s website: http://sarahreinhard.com/


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5 Comments

  1. Thanks for a great perspective. As mothers (and fathers) who juggle so much and negotiating life with children, we really are more than fit for taking on spiritual parenting of so many others. I had not thought of it that way until reading your post this morning. God bless you!

  2. You will find, as your kids grow older, that you’re mothering some of their friends as well. I take it as a great compliment when one of my son’s friends calls me “mom” and my daughter’s friend wants to stay here when her own mom is on a business trip. Never be ashamed of “only” 3.

  3. Thank you for sharing. Can I ask a question though, what method of NFP do you use? I am struggling because I don’t find having more kids is a responsible choice for my family but am having a hard time trusting that Nfp works (we have had two kids practicing NFP, unintentionally conceiving). Any suggestions on methods??

  4. like you i have 3 kids, now in their teens..it has not been easy but i praise God for this amazing gift to be a mother..my heart rejoices & my soul sings…i imagine how lonely i would have been if i had not said yes to my ex-boyfriend’s request to marry him…God continue to give us blessings & unending grace to follow Him.

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