Is A Larger Family The Best For Me?

Babies are so least where I live. For me, pregnancies are hard. Months of sickness, days of being stuck to an IV tube since I can’t retain any food or drink, rushing to the emergency room stricken with dehydration, aches and pains all over. I relieve the days each time a friend gets pregnant and shares her woes. But then the baby arrives. Ah, one would think the best had arrived. And yes, by God’s grace, the best has arrived. But as the days drift into nothing but diaper changes, lugging infant car seats all over the place, double wrapping baby and self many a time before setting foot outdoors and inexplicable crying ( by mom and baby), one really begins to wonder at the insanity of it all. It’s not babies I have anything against. It’s the situations that come with it.

We have two children by the grace of God. I’m close to hitting 35 and know that if I want to have another I should act quickly. But I hesitate. Nothing jars me more than the isolation and lost freedom that comes with baby and being a stay-home mom. Being a working mom with a newborn isn’t all that appealing either. Droopy eyed, bed head look, bewildered. That would be the woman called Me. And I’m not alone. No wonder postpartum depression is a real and thriving creature. It hits me harder I suppose because, truth be told, I am a control freak and like my ducks in a row and my freedom to do as I will, when I will. With both my kids in school now, I actually am able to get the things I want done, done. I can finally envision a career and well rested nights….until the kids’ teen years anyway. I can walk out the door without having to bundle up baby and snap her into a car seat or hear her wail in the backseat, shopping cart, at a Parent Teaching meeting, having your pick. You get the picture.

When the kids are little, there really is a loss of control over any semblance of a schedule or being master of your own day. The only thing you can barely make it in time for are the mommy-kid gatherings. So desperate are we for some adult company, for a release from our daily mind-numbing doings. They say misery loves company. Well, we weren’t miserable, though I admit we constantly felt challenged and exhausted, but moms with toddlers and babies, the best advice I’d ever share is ‘Get some friends who are in the same boat!” When you groan and moan, they offer empathy. When you cheer and beam with pride, they can relate. And there’s nothing in the world that shoots some courage into your spine as the feeling that someone understands you, someone listens with their heart.

And yet, now that I have my freedom back, the children have grown to become my biggest pride and joy. It’s probably not the wisest of things but I doubt I am as attached to anyone as I am to them. They are my snuggle-wuggle partners, my bed time with mother partners. And then I read something called “Hold onto Your Kids” and have become as determined as ever to be my kids confidant, the person they turn to with good or bad news. I am dogged about having a relationship with them that goes beyond, “Now eat or I’ll tell your dad!”, “Did you pick your clothes off the floor?” or “And whose going to help me unload the dishwasher?.” I want to be mommy who reads together with them, mommy who does puzzles with them and mommy who knows how to laugh at a joke. Those things take time too. Time and energy. But no one said anything in life was free. All relationships require investment, beginning with the one even with God!

So back to the question that began this soul searching. Is baby number three to-be or not to be? So much of how we relate to kids is done on auto-pilot. Do I have what it takes to rise beyond that? To be the parent who knows not to yell if the kids are driving me up the wall, to be the parent that holds my tongue and not take it out on the kids when I’m having a bad day, or the parent who doesn’t spiral towards being mean-spirited when exhausted. In other words, am I up to the challenge of being a positive parent? Can I financially afford to put off having a career and beginning saving for college for my first two kids? I don’t know.

For those indecisive like me there is a prayer that Muslims invoke called the “Istikara”. It translates from Arabic as: “O' my ilãh I ask your guidance due to Your knowledge, and I ask Your help due to your ability. For You are able and I'm not able, You know and I don't know, and You are the one that knows the hidden matters. O' my 'ilãh if You know that this matter -and you name it by its name- is better for me in my faith, my livelihood, the aftermath of my affair, its short term, and its long term, then decree it for me, make it easy for me, and bestow blessings for me in it; and if You know that this affair is bad for me in my faith, my livelihood, the aftermath of my affair, its short term, and its long term, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it; and decree for me the good where ever it is, and then content me with it.” It’s a simple yet easily overlooked entreaty. One that I have to remind myself is an option, and a great one at that.

It is said that one that asks the Creators' guidance in a matter, and consults with His creation, then acts deliberately would never regret his action. For God The Exalted in Chapter Al-lmrãn V. 159 of the Quran says:

And consult them in the matter [of moment]. Then when you have taken a decision put your trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust [in Him]

How powerful. No matter what each of us may call Him, when at the cross roads as I am, nothing could help more than a conversation with the “guy in the sky” as my kids fondly call Him. As for how things pan out, I’ll be sure to keep you posted !