An Aching Womb: A Note From a Single Woman
As I picked up the limp, sleeping body of the sweet four-year-old girl, tears began to fill my eyes and I thought, “will this ever be my life?”
Those moments are few and far between for me, which is good, because I’m a nanny and if picking up a child always made me cry I would probably need to find a new career. The most recent occurrences have been while watching four specific kiddos. This has happened twice now, both times when I was putting the little girl to bed. One time she was awake, and another she’d fallen asleep early on the couch. Both times caught me by surprise, especially since in addition to being a nanny, I’ve been an aunt most of my life and serve in the kids ministry at my church, so it’s not like I’m not around kids often enough to be reminded I don’t have any. But there was something about tucking four kids into bed, in the style of house I’d love to own someday, that hit me in the feels. To you mamas, it probably feels extremely ordinary and maybe even a bit of a chore at times. No doubt there are times you look at your peacefully sleeping children and also get teary eyed; grateful, happy tears of love for the little life that’s been entrusted to you, but I’m sure other times you’re just exhausted and would love a break and for someone else to put the children to bed. But for me, someone who has always wanted to be a mom, it sometimes feels like a dream unfulfilled and withheld.
For the past year or so I’ve been wanting to do a Biblical word study on children, because I think we have such a selfish idea of them in this day and age. I look around at my own culture, and even among Christians, there seems to be a very self-centered approach to parenting. The emphasis is on what “we’ want, when “we” want, what “we” can afford, what “we” have the patience for, where “we” want to live, the vacations “we” want to take, the life “we” want to give our children. Children are seen as a blessing, (although the attitude for many seems to be, “as long as you don’t have more than four because that’s just ridiculous and irresponsible.”) but do we really consider them ordained by God and uniquely designed? Have we even entertained the thought of allowing God to determine how large our families grow to be? Or if we should also expand them through adoption? Before you freak out, this isn’t a post about birth-control and I’m not here to tell you you’re wrong if you are taking precautions, or if you aren’t pursuing adoption, but I am serious in posing those questions. Are these things you’ve surrendered to Christ -completely- and sense His peace and leading in your decisions? Or are they based only on your own wants and preferences? In a culture that puts so much value on education and careers and has increasingly diminished the sacrifice and beauty of stay-at-home moms, while turning their nose up at large families, have we begun to believe what the world says about children? Or do we remember and hold to what the Word says?
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them.” -Psalm 127:3-5
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” -Mark 9:37
“But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’” -Luke 18:16
“He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!” -Psalm 113:9
“So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.” -1 Timothy 5:14
“And when Esau lifted up his eyes and saw the women and children, he said, ‘Who are these with you?’ Jacob said, ‘The children whom God has graciously given your servant.’” -Genesis 33:5
Psalm 139 highlights the intimacy with which God knows us, long before we are born. Science speaks to our miraculous being, through what we know about DNA and how each child is unique and reflects the specific egg and sperm connection. The same combination of sperm and egg can never repeat. Of course, you have multiples that can form from the same egg and sperm (which is another awesome miracle in of itself!), but aside from identical multiples, each unique set of DNA cannot repeat and an egg only gets one shot per month of teaming up with sperm to begin developing into a human. It’s so fascinating! It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m Pro-Life and why abortion breaks my heart. It’s part of why miscarriage, even at the earliest stages of pregnancy, is devastating. It’s not just a clump of cells that is lost, it’s a unique little person that the family will never get to hold, kiss, smell or know, this side of eternity.
Lately, I’ve been realizing that although my life isn’t going according to my plan, if I am going to have children they will be according to HIS plan; the children He has ordained for me to have. He is the giver of life, knows how many eggs I have in my ovaries, and exactly which ones, if any, will be fertilized. They would be knit together by Him, not me, in His perfect timing. His time frame is so much bigger than mine; He is the author of time. He is over time. I can trust Him with my life, dreams, and certainly my maternal clock.
Remember that when you look into the faces of your own little miracles. Maybe they were unplanned, maybe they didn’t come as soon as you’d hoped, but if they hadn’t come in the precise moment they did you never would’ve had them. Their DNA would’ve been discarded in your monthly cycle. All of the character traits that give them their attributes and personality would not be the exact same had you conceived a different egg, fertilized at a different time.
If you feel like you’re drowning in children, in over your head and questioning why God made you so fertile, remember: children are a blessing and God has been so incredibly gracious to entrust these miracles to your care. It’s hard, it’s overwhelming, it’s a lot - but it’s not too much. God doesn’t make mistakes, children aren’t accidents and His grace is sufficient.
Sometimes I put my hand over my physically and figuratively aching womb and ask God if it will ever hold a child. If this longing that’s been deep inside my bones for as long as I can remember will be fulfilled biologically, only through adoption, or if it was put their by God for a purpose other than my own motherhood. Maybe it was to have the passion to help other families, to nanny well or maybe even someday to have an orphanage. Whatever the long-term purpose, for now this passion is reminding you what a blessing children are and that being a mother is hard, beautiful, creative, biblical, sanctifying, messy, honorable, feminine, sacrificial, weighty, courageous and so worth it. I think we could all stand to be reminded of that.
Written for Strength & Song by Veronica Leguire. Veronica is a full-time nanny and prolife advocate who lives in Toledo, OH.