strategy

I have a question for our little neighborhood today.  I initially wrapped a story around it, but it stands better alone.  Best to keep it simple.

I wonder… and, hear me now:

I wonder if you believe (whether you have children or not) that one should have a plan before entering a lifetime of parenthood.  A goal.  A hope and a dream.  As in, “I am having children because I believe it is my religious duty.”  Or, “We are having children because we believe we can raise a child that will change the world.”  And when you have a child, you are always thinking about that reason in the back of your mind.  I had kids in order that … dot dot dot.

Perhaps this is clearer: Why should someone- anyone- have children?

The old textbook answer is survival.  Numbers.  Population.  For a name to live on.  For extra hands to help work the land.  For an heir to the throne.  Our American culture is not so drastic as our ancestors’, but surely there must be some underlying current that we are saying yes or no to.

I just wonder if you, Neighborhood, have any insight. If you’ve ever thought about it before.

I’m certainly going somewhere with all this, but I want to start the conversation and then we’ll chat more.

Oh, before you ask: YES.  Curt and I had a plan.  We decided to have children because it fits nicely into our World Domination Strategy.  We got started a little late, but do not underestimate me. I’m small but I am scrappy.

(If you prefer to answer outside of the comments, the form below will be forwarded to my email.)






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About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

29 responses to “strategy

  • Amy B.

    Wow! What a question for a Monday morning!

    Six years ago (pre-motherhood), I would have said you should definitely have a plan, a reason for entering parenthood and that there were definitive right and wrong reasons for having kids.

    But then five years ago, my husband and I had just returned to the US from living and traveling extensively overseas; I was in an in-between place, not sure where to go next. I was 30+ and had realized that if I was going to have children, I should probably get on with it soon, even though I’d yet to have that strong, undeniable urge to have children I’ve heard other women describe. I knew my husband would be a fantastic dad, even as I was sure I had not a nurturing bone in my body.

    So we decided that since weren’t doing anything else, we should give it a whirl. There was very little intention behind the decision and very little work put into making it happen, but happen it did.

    And while I have been able to do some amazing things in my life, and hope to do many more, nothing will ever top being a mother; it is the most amazing thing I have ever – or will ever – do. But I would never have guessed that before – I had to be shown, I had to experience it first-hand to understand. It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I will never get it completely right, but I wake up every day wanting to try again anew.

    So, even though, my reason (or lack thereof) would have met with disapproval from the me of a decade ago, I think the important thing in this case is that I got here.

    I kind of think having kids is just a natural progression of a healthy, committed relationship – at least for most relationships – and something that happens without much thought. I always hated the “that’s just what you do” reason, but I think there might be something to it.

    I’m not good with the whole God/Bible/church/theology talk, so I hope people understand the humble intentions behind the following: I think the urge to create, whether it be art or music or buildings or jets, is strong in people because it is one of our greatest likenesses to our Creator. And creating another life is the pinnacle of our ability to create here on earth.

    And the self-sacrifice and self-denial required to shepherd a small child through this world, well, is the closest I’ve ever come to understanding the lesson in sacrifice that Christ came to this earth to teach us. Before my son, I knew nothing about a desire to serve someone else so strongly I could ignore being covered in throw-up.

    And, while I do think these lessons and reasons do apply to most parents to some degree, I believe there are a myriad of other thoughts and plans and reasons out there – and I’m eager to read about them.

    Thanks for getting the juices flowing this morning. Now, though, I guess I really must get to emptying the dishwasher…

  • Sunday

    This is a very interesting question and one I have been wondering about this weekend. As my friend said on facebook her kids were wearing their “ass hats” this weekend and I would say the same about mine. I could not tell you why we had kids after this doozy of a weekend!

  • Sunday

    oh, and yeah, what Amy B. said!

  • Amy L

    Wow – My hats off to Amy B. Well said.

    As I was reading the question, I had some thoughts rattling around so let’s see if I can put them down in good clear order.

    I was meant to be a mom. It was a feeling in my gut (something I’ve learned to listen to as a mom) that was always with me. I never questioned it and never doubted that feeling. I did not have a plan as to the specific number of children or a time-line.

    My husband and I did not do much planning in the early dating and marriage years. We didn’t plan that I would become pregnant 13 weeks before our wedding date. We didn’t plan to become pregnant with a 3rd child when the 2nd child was only 9 months old, and we definitely didn’t plan that our 3rd child would be born shortly after we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.

    Today, we do plan. It is still short-range planning. We have the children enrolled in a private school which is run by the church that we are members of.

    I believe our plans will continue to change as needs of our kids change as they grow.

  • Jessica

    What a question. I cant say I ever had a real plan other then just to have them…..

  • Jessica

    yea I just read Amy’s comment.

    Amen to that!

  • Nancy Lee

    In the 70’s back a long time ago in the middle ages when we didn’t have internet or much money we didn’t have anything else to do…so then we ended up with one kid…
    Then in the late 70’s, hubby was in Pharmacy school and decided to take a study break..so then we ended up with one more kid..
    Then in 87, I had a tubal ligation…and then in 92 we ended up with a third kid…
    hm…planning?? not so much…

  • Chad

    I can’t say that my wife and I had much of a strategy in the beginning. We knew we wanted them, eventually, and we had an idea of how many we wanted. I agree with Amy that being blessed with a child, and the joys and frustrations that come with it, give one an entirely new appreciation of God as ‘Father’. Oh, the frustrations! I imagine God with his white hair clutched in his fists screaming, “Are you kidding me?!!”

    (Not that God has to have white hair…you know what I mean…just a word picture.)

    Now I want to honor God and his design for me and my wife…that’s our “strategy”. We wan’t to have kids that bring honor and glory to Him. Our number was always 4. We were going to have 4 kids. Our parents each had 4, so we picked that number. That sounds like rock solid logic, doesn’t it? We have 7.

    People ask us if we’re going to have more. I ask myself that. To answer that question, I try to think in concrete terms. Not abstractions. The truth is, if we don’t intervene we will likely have another child. So, if I want to intervene, and cut off any more kids, I imagine myself explaining my intervention to that actual child, complete with blond hair, blue eyes, baseball hat, pig tails, the whole nine yards…give them a name…grab a family photo and stick another little guy or girl on the end of the line and try to explain it to them…. “Here’s why you were never born…”

    When I think of the 3 kids we almost said “No” to…you should see them. They’re awesome.

  • Grace

    I may be coming at things from a different place than many here, because I have suffered through infertility. I was told when I was 14 that I will probably have trouble having kids one day, though I was not told why. When my husband and I got married, we talked about how I might not be able to have children, and we talked about adoption. We knew that we wanted to have children, to raise for God’s glory and because we both love kids. But my disease meant our “plans” looked a little different.

    When my husband was in his last semester of seminary, we decided the time was right to start trying. We knew it would not happen accidentally. For us, we knew we wanted kids. We knew what we were willing to do (and what we weren’t) to have them. We saw doctors and took medication, and I got pregnant and had a healthy baby boy.

    When he was 1 1/2, we decided to try again. We tried for over 4 years. We completed the home study process and became a waiting family for domestic infant adoption. We saw multiple doctors, had tests, had surgery, took medication… and FINALLY, during a cycle that was deemed a bust by my doctor, we conceived again. I am now pregnant and due in May.

    Our sons will be 6 1/2 years apart.

    So, for us, the desire for children was there. We wanted our family to include kids. We both loved kids, and we wanted to raise children in a Christian home to love God and serve Him, and to be used by Him. But as for a plan… well, nothing happened according to OUR plan. But I believe everything happened according to God’s plan.

  • Carin

    deep thoughts by Carin on a Tuesday morning when I should be grocery shopping….. I had kids to fulfill a selfish need within myself. I wanted people to stare at my swollen belly, I wanted to dress the child up in cute clothes and paint the nursery perfectly. I desired compliments about how cute his/her button nose was. I wanted to be the perfect mother to the perfect child. At least those are the things I dreamed off as I carried my first child. And then she was born after a horribly long labor and I had an anxiety attack and lost 30 pounds in 2 weeks and felt like shit. Sure she was cute–actually she was darn cute. But the other things didn’t seem as important. Then I had a boy two years later and then a girl 2.5 years later and then a boy 2.75 years later and now I am sitting here typing this with a house full of kids (well actually 2 are at school which is a beautiful thing) and for the first time in 9 years I am thinking, why did I have kids, because they don’t clean, they cost a ton on money, and half of time I’m not sure I want to claim them as my own—and surely, it isn’t proving what a wonderful person I am–NO WAY. So, I guess it has to come down to God. I had kids because God made me. I didn’t plan it–He did. He made me desire my husband and created this really strange and excitingly wonderful way to make them. And then He held me in His hands as I held them in mine–and he hasn’t let me go yet, so I haven’t let go of mine. And now I understand a little better how deep and wide the LOVE of Christ is!

  • Wende

    We had a plan. To love him. Unequivocally. Nothing more. Nothing less.

  • Kim Aguilar

    I absolutely love how Amy B. answered. And I would say all the same things, except that I always wanted to be a mom. It was my plan for my life since I was two years old and played house with my teddy bear for a husband. Luckily, my real husband wanted to have kids with me when I finally found him at 28 and we were able to quickly after about 5 months of marriage. But, like Grace, we’re struggling for #2. Clark is four years old and I am 33. And our “plan” of 2 to 4 kids is looking more like wishful thinking. But it is that act of creation with God that seems to be what is the most critical and most profound lesson to be learned. And you don’t have to bear your own children to learn that. You just have to have the heart of a parent. One thing, though, that I cannot understate, is that I know our little family will always be together. Forever. Come hell or high water (and it has…and will) our family is sealed with an impenetrable bond, as long as we remain faithful to each other and to God. And that knowledge gives me purpose. And the will to keep at it, no matter how high the water, or how splattered the vomit, strictly hypothetically speaking, of course. I think, too, that part of “the plan” must then involve loving the plan, whatever it looks like to you or to God, no matter what. So, just, having true gratitude for being able, for being so blessed, to take part in the experience. Because not only is it gonna be so worth it in the hereafter, but it’s all worth it NOW. And every PB&J encrusted kiss tells you that. Good Glory! That’s HEAVEN!

    • Amy B.

      The PS to my story is that now that I’m hooked on this motherhood gig and trying to pursue it with more intention (i.e., have more kids), it’s just not happening: 2+ years of trying, 2 miscarriages, more sadness than I’ve known in my life. I have to be honest and admit I’m not in the best place with God because of all of it (I so admire those of you who can still feel so faithful in times of loss and grief), but we’re not giving up. I just try to imagine 30 years from now when I’ll be able to see the bigger picture this all fits into.

      • Kim Aguilar

        I am by no means in a perfect place where God is concerned. It seems that the harder I try, the more I fall short of what His will is for me. But I guess that’s where Christ comes in. To be our Advocate with the Father. He makes up the difference. Fills in our gaps and holes and in doing so, makes us whole. You are not alone in your struggle to feel, to be, faithful. That is THE struggle. The object of mortality. And the fact that you’re not giving up means that you are in EXACTLY the right place.

        • Kim Aguilar

          Okay, so I just reread my post and realized that I made it sound like Clark came along after we’d been married for 5 months. It actually took us 5 months after we were married to conceive. Hope this isn’t TMI, but I think it’s worth mentioning that we take the power of procreation seriously and despite our ages (yikes), we waited until marriage. We WAITED. You know what I’m talking about. The reason I am being maybe too explicit about this is that I think it has a lot to do with Katie’s original question. And so yes, we have a plan, and that plan has everything to do with keeping God’s commandments.

  • beckyswann

    My answer is simple. Jeremiah and I both just knew we wanted to have children. I wanted to be a mom he wanted to be a dad, and now we want to do it again. I just always knew that I wanted a child, maybe its because I am just need someone who I can identify with on my maturity level:)

  • shanda

    I gave up on my dream of having 4 kids when I turned 30 and still hadn’t ever had a boyfriend. Tick Tock Tick Tock. I also had 400 students who were my kids. I figured God would use me in their lives.
    I met Gary and was married 9 months later. Two months later: pregnant. Miscarriage. It makes you evaluate why you want to have kids. So why?
    1. There is a need in me to nurture, to serve others, to bless them. Our pastor talked about how blessing someone makes them more: more character, more joy, more growth. God has created us with a desire to bless others with Him. He blesses us, we bless others. Sure you can do it with other people, but your kids–awesome! I want to bless them tons and tons!
    2. Having kids makes me really happy. I really like them. I really like being with them. Why wouldn’t I want to have some of my own if I didn’t like them? Granted, there are times. . . .
    3. I wanted kids because I grew up with three other siblings and I couldn’t imagine life being any better. I wanted to have a family like I grew up with. I wanted to be a mom and wanted my kids to have siblings.
    4. We also adopted one. Why? The seed was planted even before we got married but was fertilized after our miscarriage. Kids need parents. We could be parents.

    Six years of marriage. Four children 5, 4, 3, and 8 months. The only thing I’d change (at this moment) is to have gone out for Saturday morning breakfast just a few more times before they came. That and I wish I wouldn’t get crabby sometimes.

  • christan

    Guess in the beginning it was “just what you do”. Go to college. Get married. “Be fruitful and multiply”. Honestly, though, I was always a bit terrified of having children. I’m very selfish and I was certain they would just suck the life out of me! 🙂
    First pregnancy, after 2 yrs of marriage, was a surprise! But, after mis-carrying 10 weeks later, I had already experieced that “LOVE the Lord gives you the minute He puts that little life inside of you” feeling!!! I was now ready to PLAN. 6 months of “trying”. 9 more months of pregnancy. Then Corban… “Gift devoted to God”. He made me want to be better at everything I do. He was perfection in a little tiny package. HE gave me a mommy’s heart… and he made it feel too big for my chest. Somewhere over the next 4 years, selfishness seemed to creep back in. Marriage was getting a little tougher than I wanted. Apparently the Lord realized I needed some SERIOUS intervention! Somehow in His Grace, He decided instead of wrath or discipline, He’d send me a Miracle. Thus, Canaan… a testimony of God’s faithfulness and promises! Another piece of perfection!!! We had 2 sweet brothers, who would be “iron” for each other. “The Plan” was to be done. I like even numbers. Apparently, I needed more intervention. Surprise #3. And now, Caiyah… “he saves, revives, restores. He is the God of my Life”. Now, everything is completely different than I had ever planned. NOW, everything is SO Much better than I would have ever been able to plan!!!! Tough? Yes. Still selfish? Yes. Praying for the peace of Christ to gaurd my heart and mind every day? Yes. Good and gifted mom? probably not really. BLESSED BEYOND MY WILDEST EXPECTATIONS? YES! YES! YES!
    Praise God! His ways are SOOOO much Higher than Ours!!!

  • Margie

    Wow. Okay. I read this on my mobile and thought quick, flippant answer. But the responses are more than that – they are deep and heartfelt and lovely. But in short: We basically chose to have kids because we were supposed to. I didn’t have a yearning for it, but heard so many say, “It’s the best thing you’ll ever do!” without really believing it.

    But, oh my goodness, it IS the Best Thing We Ever Did. Who could have believed yielding your time and energy and every bit of you to another could be so wonderful? I far prefer being known as Elizabeth’s and Sarah’s mommy to ever being known as Margie Good Student or Margie Good Employee or even just Margie.

    I’ll always believe life really started for me on the day Elizabeth was born. Because nothing, really, even our great wedding, can compare to the amazing changes that babies bring.

  • Mandi

    Well, I’m coming late to the game here, but it’s not for a lack of thinking this one over. I always assumed I would be a mom at some point, because that’s generally just what one does. Jeff and I sort of loosely planned to wait about five years after we were married to start “trying.” As seems to be the case with almost everyone who commented, our plans turned out not to be quite what the Lord had for us. I was taking birth control pills when Jeff and I got married. It soon became clear that my body didn’t react well to The Pill. Everything went haywire. Five different hormonal birth control options later, with my body completely confused about what it was supposed to do, I decided to give it up completely. At that point, it became necessary to consider parenthood on a more serious level. And not at all according to our plan. It was time to just see what the Lord had in store for us.

    It was almost a year before we conceived. A crazy year, in which I went from wondering if I was ready to be a parent to wondering if I ever would (could) be one. I was thrilled and terrified when I found out I was pregnant. But I was also in love. And then, I was involved in a crazy accident just two weeks before she was born, which made me evaluate the pregnancy anew. It was then that I knew that I didn’t just WANT to be a mom; I NEEDED to be a mom. It was what I was meant to do. Holding Ruth in my arms for the first time, I felt more like “me” than I ever had.

    Still, it took us quite a while to decide to have another baby. But, eventually, it just felt like something was missing. And that something was Weston. The decision to have #3 was much easier, and so we set to work on it pretty quickly. I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant…and devastated when I miscarried. I grieved long and hard over that lost child, and was still grieving a couple of months later when I began to feel like something strange was going on with my body. Thinking that it wasn’t even possible for me to get pregnant so quickly after the miscarriage (according to the opinions of several medical professionals), we were shocked to learn that I was, in fact, pregnant. My reaction was sort of one of anger. I couldn’t understand why our plan to have a baby had been rejected in favor of this new plan. I was still grieving and did not even want to consider being happy about the pregnancy or about the thought of being a mom again. I was almost saying in my heart that I wanted it my way or no way. Eventually, I did get happy about the new addition, and also had the opportunity to have my faith tested and strengthened. I had always claimed that the Lord’s plans were better than my plans, but I had never had the two plans so contradict each other. The Lord’s plans really are better. I couldn’t imagine not having my Max! But that is also the kid that made me think I was definitely done having babies. He was (and is) a challenge in so many ways.

    Then, we had a “surprise” about a year ago. It wasn’t planned, but it happened, and we were thrilled! We were glad, once again, that our plans hadn’t worked out and that the Lord was going to give us one more. After 2 excited months, I lost that baby. And again, I grieved. But the time of mourning finally came to an end, and we realized that our little family still didn’t feel complete. So, now there is another bun in the oven, who we are looking forward to meeting in early May.

    It has been quite a road, with lots of ups and a few downs. But why did we chose this journey? It’s because, for us, there was a deep desire to give of ourselves, to shape lives, to love almost beyond our capacity to comprehend and to fulfill, what we felt like, was the Lord’s calling on our lives. There was so much we didn’t know–that we couldn’t even have imagined–when we started down this path. There is still so much we don’t know. But we wouldn’t trade one moment, not one experience (even the heartbreaking ones!) for this chance to be parents and to see just a glimpse of the Lord’s project from the Father’s perspective. It is truly an amazing and wonderful journey.

  • Chad

    This all sounds so familiar…where have I heard this before? Oh yes, Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

  • kelly b

    I did hair for five years at a retirement home and got to know, quite well, a large number of women in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. I’d spend around one hour a week with each of these women. In that time I learned that every single one of them was incredibly grateful that they had children. Many had gone through unspeakable hardship. Losing a husband at a young age, losing a college age daughter to sudden brain cancer, a lonely son’s suicide, grandson in an almost fatal car accident then getting stood up at the alter, drug addict adulterer son… the list goes on. I also knew a few women who had never had children. Some by choice, some because they couldn’t. Both deeply regretted it, and it was a ache in them until death. And the ones who had suffered loss in life, or pain that their children caused them still considered it a blessing to have had them.
    When I decided to try to get pregnant I didn’t “feel” ready. But I was 33 and knew I didn’t have too many years left to try. I was scared but I decided to take a leap and trust what God had taught me through those women. During my pregnancy I had one of the hardest years of my life both emotionally and physically but even in the first weeks of my baby’s life, when I probably would have given her back if could have, something in me knew I’d never regret it. And I don’t. In fact, now that I know her, I would do it all over again if I had to. It’s quite something.
    So the short answer is: to experience something that a bunch of old ladies made seem infinitely valuable.

  • Julie

    I have nothing much to add as I am just catching up on all of these comments. I loved reading them all so thanks for getting us thinking KatieKate.
    Being a mom has been my ultimate goal since I could Think on “what I would be when I grew up”. I always just wanted to be a mom……except I wanted more than three though that looks like where we shall stop.

    I loved the comment from Kelly B right above mine.

  • elly

    sorry to be so late… just came back to land-o-the-internet…(story for another time..)

    kids… plan…. not really. in marriage i came face to face with my selfishness….motherhood gave me selflessness. and now i get to share unconditional love with 4 beauties. what a privilege… more joy, hurt, pain, laughter and grace could be found no other way for me. i screw up more times than not….and yet here we still are… loving each other one day at a time. i found this kind of love through being somebody’s mama. how much more our heavenly father loves us… lavish, lavish love. i’m so grateful. xo

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