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Think Life Is Over Once You Have Kids?


When I was growing up, my friends and I loved to play a game called MASH. If you’re not familiar, it’s played with a paper and pen, often during recess in fifth grade. You write short lists of various potential life decisions and then methodically eliminate the majority of them until you have one item left in each category: one place to live (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House; these initials yielding the game’s name), one husband’s name, a number of children, a type of car, a job, and so on.


It was such fun for us to dream of marrying our crushes, to laugh when we ended up driving improbable vehicles, and to hope that our professional aspirations came to pass.


Fast forward a few decades, and I can’t remember enough of what was on those sheets of loose-leaf paper to know what my fifth-grade self would think of the life I have today.


She’d probably be surprised that I had five children before I was 34, and equally surprised that I’d developed a career as a writer and editor. She would certainly find it unbelievable that in good weather, I run.


For fun.

If you are called to it, I encourage you to recognize parenting as a vocation: a way in which God draws us closer to Himself. It’s a team effort, but it’s not a competition; it’s not a race; it’s not any kind of performance. It will not be all of who you are, nor will it negate any piece of your identity.

Marrying at 23 and having a child at 24 meant that neither my husband nor I ever got totally grounded in solo adulting. And we regularly reflect on what a blessing that is. Our lives always included the other, and soon included another person as well. We were young, and we had a lot to learn (still do), but I can’t say we didn’t know what we were doing.


We knew when we got married, as we knew when we started dating, and as we are striving to teach our children now, that Christ is the center of our lives.


All we have comes from Him. All we do ought to serve Him. All we hope for is to be with Him in Heaven for all eternity.


That focus means that we have not lost who we are as individuals even as we started and grew our family. Christ is our center; we are children of God. With this understanding, we each continue to recognize the fullness of the other, and to make room in our family’s resources of time, money, and energy to nurture that.


As an example, my husband and I take turns going for runs on weekends. We alternate training for longer races, and let our kids see that it is good to have a goal to work and struggle toward. This is good for our bodies, minds, and souls.


Really, a lot of credit in this arena needs to go to my husband. He gives his all at work, but is able to step away and be present to us when he’s home. My children are growing up with his example of work being something he does, but not who he is. Rather, he is the guy who plays tag on the playground, who regularly helps his homebound father, who breaks out the violin to play requests at Christmas.


He comes home and appreciates all of who I am. He holds the baby so I can edit. He does bedtime solo so I can participate in the monthly critique group I’ve been part of for eight years. He saves frequent flyer miles so I can visit one of my best friends, who lives in a different time zone.


He can see that when I’m starting to unravel, I need time and space to tap back into the parts of me that existed before I was a mother. He knows that the whole family benefits when I do.


We see it in our kids wanting to exercise with us. In their creativity in creating books and telling stories. We see it in their openness to who God has created them to be, in their joy and their light.


My life was not over when I had kids, nor did it just begin. These are all chapters of the same book. And the hero, in my eyes, after Christ, my Lord and Savior, is my husband, who knows me and loves me and makes room for me to be me.


Ladies, if you fear the changes that will come with having children (or having more), I’m not going to tell you it’s easy all the time. I’m not going to tell you those changes aren’t challenging or that you shouldn’t give proper and prayerful consideration to the full reality of the current state of your family.


But I will tell you that if your husband consistently sees you and cares for you, then being a mother of however many kids you’re called to – one, two, five, ten, more – will bring out the best in you.


If you are called to it, I encourage you to recognize parenting as a vocation: a way in which God draws us closer to Himself. It’s a team effort, but it’s not a competition; it’s not a race; it’s not any kind of performance. It will not be all of who you are, nor will it negate any piece of your identity.


Rather, it will help you to become the woman He made you to be all along.



In Christ,


Lindsay


Lindsay Schlegel is a daughter of God who seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift others up to be all they were created to be. She has come to see that being a mother does not negate her being a child of God, but rather, her vocation as a parent is a means by which the Father draws her closer to Himself. She is the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God and the host of the podcast Quote Me with LindsaySchlegel. Lindsay lives in New Jersey with her husband and five kids. You can find her writing over at Catholic Mom and on her personal blog.

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