In 2004, when our fourth child was born, I looked at my husband and said those famous last words (perhaps you’ve said them too?) – “I’m not having another baby – ever!” He (wisely) nodded and agreed, but for the next six years, he patiently tried to convince me to have just one more.
Finally, in 2010, I agreed, and our fifth child, Anna Noelle, joined our family. I remember feeling a great deal of regret during that pregnancy that I hadn’t just gone ahead and had a fifth one right away. After all, she was going to be so much younger than the others. The older four were all two years apart; they were built-in friends and playmates for each other. I was worried that I had spoiled our family dynamic by waiting so long to have Anna.
Anna is five now, and our other four children are teenagers (or nearly teenagers). As I look back over Anna’s life and the impact it has made on the rest of us, I can see some clear lessons for myself.
1. God’s plan is so much better than my plan. If we think we can come up with the perfect number of kids, the perfect spacing of kids, or the perfect age to stop having kids, we’re kidding ourselves. My desire to have perfect control over my life almost cost me a huge blessing. God had a good, good plan for us.
2. Sometimes God uses my husband to tell me about His plan. I resisted this for many years, mainly out of fear. In hindsight, I can see now how God was nudging me to obey Him through the words and desires of my husband. This was an important step for me.
3. Toddlers are the perfect cure for moody teens. No one (not even a hormonal teenager) can resist a tiny person being super cute. It’s awesome to watch your teenager rush home from a bad day at school and make a beeline for the baby or toddler. The bond my older kids have with Anna is something sacred, and I’ve watched it develop with awe and gratitude.
4. Children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Obviously I knew this with with my first four kids, but sometimes I lost sight of it in the midst of diapers, crying, endless messes, and lack of sleep. This last child has been a sweet reminder and a bonus chance to fully appreciate the gift that all of our kids are to us.
5. Our family dynamic is very flexible (in other words, I was worried for nothing). Because of Anna, we’re still playing Go Fish, watching animated movies, and running through the sprinkler – and we love it! It’s impossible for me to imagine what life would be like without her, and I guess that’s good, because she was meant to be part of our lives.
I’m not trying to convince anyone to have a fifth child (or even a fourth or a third), but maybe there’s a small area of control in your life that you are hanging onto with all you’re worth? Trust me, if God has been whispering to you to give it to Him, it will be worth it!