I’ve been feeling frankly euphoric about having four children all day. These moments, as you can imagine, are few in the day. If I do have them I don’t generally have time to notice because there’s so much to do. But I was in the car a fair bit this morning and again this afternoon and I had time to consider how great it is to have so many kids, and how completely impoverished I would be with, say, only three, or only two, or only one, or none at all.
I’d be, first of all, very poor in experience. It’s taken 3 babies to figure it out. Nursing alone is something I only just now feel I have the hang of. And knowing the capacity of a child, say, to not whine if you tell them not to; I didn’t know that with the first, or even the second child. Now, on the third, we finally have the whining under control. Or the difference between boys and girls from birth. Being so rich as to have two of each, I am gaining wisdom and understanding in the differences between men and women, boys and girls, on a more basic and deeper level.
Second, I’d be poor in time. My days have become vastly richer and more varied with each baby. Its especially nice to have a baby at each stage doing different things, all day long, so that at every moment there’s a whole tapestry of play and conversation and activity. Also, I get more done, so my time is overall better spent and less wasted.
Third, I’d be poor in understanding. As I’ve known all my life with my head (because my dad said it over and over) ‘you can do it if you have to’, I now know with my body and soul. There isn’t anything that can’t be done, if God tells you to and gives you grace. So now, when people say, ‘Oh, I could never do that’ when they see my four kids, I can say ‘Oh, you probably could, if you had to.’
But mostly I’d be poor in love. And I don’t mean all ooshy gooshy I’m so in love with my kids they can’t do anything wrong. I mean that God expands the human faculty of love as needed. If there are a lot of people around who need it, God gives you the ability to act in self giving/selfless love towards them for their good, regardless of your own needs. He meets your needs and gives you sufficiently of himself to meet theirs. This, I am experiencing daily, even in my own flesh, is so crucial if you want to be rich in God. You cannot say no to him. If he says, do such and such, you cannot say no, or you become poor. You become lean. You become narrow. Or, as my mother has so helpfully pointed out, you develop ‘good boundaries’ (usually at the expense of other people).
All this I saw and felt as I drove all over town today, thinking about this new baby. The nurse when I checked into labor and delivery, hearing she was our fourth, said ‘Oh, I have an oops baby too’ it’s great. And it is. It’s actually the best.