How do You Know if You’re “Done?”
Three years ago the Big Question was looming: Are we done having kids? I had just given birth to my fourth son. Life was busy. Busy. We had had four boys in five years. We had moved four times, started a business, helped start a church, began homeschooling, and hadn’t had a hot meal in five years. We should be done…
How would we know? What if we regretted it? Should we decide right now? If not now, when?
The question was pulling me in so many different emotional directions. I decided to ask some friends for advice. I chose three friends who already had more than four kids. I emailed, “How did you decide to have more?” None of them got back to me. They were all too busy. I got scared. “I guess that’s my answer,” I thought. “More than four is too many.”
But I was not settled about it. I was waiting for that feeling. You know, when, “You just know.”
For many women that feeling is crystal clear. Maybe they had a specific number and timeline in mind and they reached it. They feel like, “Everyone is here now.” Perhaps pregnancy and birth was so traumatic they couldn’t wait to close the door to that stage and be done forever.
Other women have had that door closed for them. Maybe it was a health issue that made the final call. Perhaps the husband made the decision and the wife had no choice but to accept. Some women are done but they don’t know it yet. They are waiting on God to bring the next child, but nothing is happening.
Whatever the reason, every mom will eventually face being “done.” Whether that day is happy or painful, now or later, there is a finality about it. It’s the end of a stage – a stressful, yet precious stage. If you find yourself facing the decision of whether or not to be “done,” no doubt you are also feeling some pressure. Ok, maybe LOTS of pressure. And it’s no wonder. It’s one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. But I’d like to help relieve that pressure. Here are three reasons you can relax about the Big Question:
1. You don’t have to know NOW.
I remember holding my fourth infant in my arms, tears streaming down my face, thinking, “Is this it? I don’t feel done, but we are so maxed out. Am I being selfish to want more? Maybe it’s not good for the family. What should we do?” Good grief. Talk about hormonal. Now, those were very normal thoughts to have, but I was POST-PARTUM. Not the best time to be making decisions about anything. If you are smack in the middle of having babies (meaning you are probably feeding a baby while you read this), you do not need to decide now. Some days you’ll be floating in babyland, thinking, “How could I ever be done? I never, ever want to stop having babies.” Then five minutes later you will be begging God not to give you any more.
Wait. Breathe. Change the next diaper. God has given you permission to focus on today (Matthew 6:34). Maybe there are more babies in your future and maybe not, but you don’t have to know NOW.
2. It’s in God’s hands.
No matter what steps you take to have more babies or to stop having babies, God always has the final say. I’m all for using the resources we have to make responsible plans, but we all know some “oops” babies, whether they are our own or someone else’s. Scary? It doesn’t have to be. It should relieve the pressure of making a “right” or a “wrong” decision. God chose the number of children you would have before time began. Let that give you comfort as you consider whether or not you are done. Pray, seek wisdom, make the best decision you can, and leave the final results to God (Proverbs 16:3).
3. It’s okay to be sad.
Whether you have one child or twenty children there is a sense of loss when you are “done.” It is the end of a chapter. There is a grieving process. And that’s okay. It might be short or it might be long. It might even be delayed. That doesn’t mean you aren’t confident in your decision. You can feel relief that you made the best decision for your family and feel a sense of loss at the same time. Some women interpret the sense of loss as regret and think, “I made the wrong choice. I wasn’t ready.” But that’s not necessarily true. It’s okay for the goodbye to hurt a little. Taking time to say goodbye to this stage will help prepare you to embrace the next one.
About two years after the birth of my fourth we decided to try for one more. God gave us the desire of our hearts and we now have five little boys. Are we done? Humanly speaking, yes. We’ve done everything in our power to close that stage of life, but we know it’s in God’s hands. Am I sad? Yes. But I’m also relieved. I feel like a huge “what if” has been taken off my plate. I anticipate feeling a painful twinge at the next few baby showers I attend, but I’m also so excited about enjoying this new “big kid” stage.
And if I’m one of those moms who gets an “oops” fifteen years from now…prayer.
“I highly recommend “The Gospel-Centered Mom” Bible study to any mom who is searching for encouragement in the amazing journey of parenting! Sara does a wonderful job of encouraging mom’s to stay focused on the Gospel while enjoying their role as mother. As a mom of 4 young children, this study has not only encouraged my heart but has also helped me to refocus my heart.” – Erica