This fall we got the great news that one of my dearest friends is pregnant. What joy! I am so happy for her and excited to be with her and her husband as they anticipate, plan, prepare and look forward. The truth is, I can't wait to love this little bundle. In fact, I already do. I saw the sonogram picture and it was love at first sight. Of course I cannot possibly know what my friend and her husband are feeling... but it is wonderful to just be a part of it all.
Of course, this leads to the inevitable question (which I have already been asked a couple of times), "Doesn't this make you want to have a baby?" Probably at first it did, a little. But really, it doesn't. Gary and I have been clear for quite a few years that we do not feel the urge / desire / call to have children. I joke that its because I don't like kids, but that is not really true. I love my step-son, Ben. And I enjoy all the children and youth at the church. My life is richer because of them. They are 'my kids' and they fill me with joy.
So why no children for me? I don't have one single answer. There are many reasons I can cite: The life of the pastor's family is hard.... I don't want my kids to have to go through multiple moves.... I don't feel I can chose between my calling and my family... I don't believe I am a person who can do both well.... I like my freedom. But none of these reasons would mean anything if I felt called in my heart to have children.
Our families know about our decision, but it is not something we broadcast (until now, I guess!). When parishioners ask me about having children I just smile and deflect the question. It really is none of their business. But honestly, I think I am afraid of the questions and quizzical looks that would result from such a statement: "We've decided not to have children." What? Why?
In her book Grace Eventually Anne Lamott (mother of Sam) writes a very thoughtful reflection (in her own direct, rather blunt, style) on this subject. She affirms, "Let me say that not one part of me thinks you need to have children to be complete, to know parts of yourself that cannot be known any other way. People with children like to think this...that those who have chosen not to breed can never know what real love is, what selflessness really means... This is a total crock.... The exact same chances for awakening, for personal restoration and connection, exists for breeders and nonbreeders alike." I thank Anne for her words which give voice to my thoughts and (justified or unjustified) concerns. I know that I will be missing something by not having children. But don't we all.... miss.... something.
So I am overjoyed... over the moon... absolutely thrilled that my dear friend is welcoming a new member into her family. I look forward to sharing the love and admiration I have for her with this new little person, who will be both a part of her and its own little self. Praise God for children and for the parents and 'Aunties' who can shower them with love.