"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."
Whether adopted or born to us, children fill our lives with unspeakable joy. When the nest empties, it isn't the child-rearing hassles that are forever etched into memory. It's the joy. Just the joy.
My husband wanted only two children, accepted three when Mary came along, and panicked when I fell pregnant with our fourth (we miscarried babies one and three). So panicked was he at number four, that he made a vasectomy appointment. While still sad and dismayed at that, I realized recently that in waiting until after the fourth (or rather, the sixth) to do the deed, he was sacrificing more than I know. He lost his job just after making the vasectomy appointment, and more than once, he's wondered if God was disappointed in that decision--especially since we're still paying the price of job loss nineteen months later. His age I'm sure has something to do with the slow return to full-time work. People over 50 just aren't hired at the same rate as younger people.
There are few things in life that require more faith than having multiple children, especially if Mom and Dad are older than the twenties upon starting. I don't find fault with anyone's family size, or with birth control or surgeries, but I do think we lose some of God's blessings when we limit our families. No, I don't think God punishes us. I just think we know a lesser joy for having limited what God might do through us. Sometimes he can do more through us by making us barren, or limiting our children, or having our children meet him early. Whatever the case, I think he wants to run the show exclusively. And our part is to trust his plan--even when it's unconventional (we're very old or young), or when it's painful (miscarriage, death, infertility).
All that said, I feel like listing the ways children bring us joy:
- They jump up and down when excited. Adults would never do that--or at least not when someone over ten is watching. :) Or is that just me?
- Their eyes dance when they've just seen something miraculous--like a lightening bolt, or a rainbow, or a frisky squirrel, or a hailstone, or a colorful bird.
- They marvel at the seasons and remind us that the seasons are marvelous.
- They forgive readily, love readily, believe readily.
- They fit against us perfectly when we cuddle up.
- They clap for themselves when they do something new (or is that just toddlers? :)
- They get super-duper excited about being served some cookies.
- Water gives them the giggles--in baths, pools, rain puddles, sinks, streams.
- They know it's the inside that counts, not the exterior. Thus, they aren't anxious about whether their hair is combed, their teeth brushed, their clothes wrinkled, their house messy, their face crumb-free.
- Pets fill them with joy, as though they've brought their first baby home from the hospital.
- Smearing things fills them with squealing delight--paint, jelly, frosting, butter, soap, mud (or is that just toddlers?).
- They love a story. And is it just me, or are animal stories a universal favorite, at least for the early years? Back to the pet phenomena, I guess.
- They learn new things effortlessly, all the time. Just not always in the order we'd like, or through the method we'd like.
- Adults come in out of the rain. Children play in it. Marvel at it. Laugh at it.
- They like cheese. A lot. They're already smiling when you reach for it in the fridge. Saturated fat, you say? Suddenly, at age two, I'm not supposed to indulge in so much cheese? Saturated, smaturated! Give me my cheese! Cheese baby! Gotta have it. What does that pediatrician guy know, anyway? Every time I go there I get sick!
- They wake up cuddle-ready. Every morning.
- They like to help. (Or is that just toddlers, again?)
- Excited, they show you their glorious scribbles, as though they rival the Mona Lisa in magnificence. And in your eyes, it's usually true.
- They love you unconditionally.
- When they see the first snow, they don't think of the work or hassle involved. Just the fun. Always the fun.
- If they're still in their pajamas at 11:00 a.m., it doesn't bother them in the least.
- Their eyes light up at the word pancakes.
- They call you Mommy, even at age eight.
- They love togetherness more than anything.
- Home is where their heart is.
- They like to be tickled--they don't mind out-of-control giggling. Adults get embarrassed if you try to tickle them.
- Shiny things delight them.
- They are unaware of your age. Don't enlighten them.
- They get excited about their years going upward. Adults get depressed about their "growing" numbers (or is that just after 35?).
- They sigh contentedly after nursing.
- They know what's important in life--God, love, family.
Last but not least, their love makes us feel like a million bucks. No, that isn't the reason to have children--for how they'll make us feel--but it's sure nice to rejoice in their love, for as long as we can.