Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Paths We Choose. Or Don't.

When our oldest children were little, my sweet MIL bought me a subscription to Reader's Digest every year.  I loved that little magazine!  My favorite stories were those of people who made a difference in people's lives.  Sometimes they paid for things that others couldn't afford like food, dance shoes, college educations.  Sometimes they just did little things they were good at, but these little things turned into a big deal:  opening a free dance studio after school; teaching a class at the local school for free; allowing kids quiet study time at their table.  Of course, the stories in RD were always about how someone had made a big difference by helping hundreds of kids or how they started the world's largest non-profit organization or something like that.

Spencer and I had multiple conversations about this.  We'd debate (neither of us taking a side, really) on if it was better to do small things but raise a large family or if you should limit your family size and then make a difference once a week for a LOT of people.  We never really reached a decision about what was best, probably because there's no answer to that.

We had our question somewhat answered for us when I was diagnosed with MS.  It was clear in our hearts that we could take a risk to have one more child, but beyond that we could not risk having a family with no mother.  So we had Landon, and then we were finished.

At that point in my life--I gotta be honest--I had my hands completely full.  I was trying to be a good wife and mother, serve in the Church, help out in our children's school, and whatever else I figured I was supposed to be doing at that time.  It was a lot, and I sometimes think Heavenly Father threw MS into our lives so that I would stop with the babies in order to remain sane.  My hat seriously goes off to people with larger families than ours.  I wanted more children, but I'm not sure it would have been wise for me.

For all those years, we also discussed adoption.  I had no trouble with fertility, but there was something in me that told me that we would have more.  Again, I didn't know how in the world that could happen.  I had a houseful of little ones and we had no money to even consider adoption.  We'd also had experience with fostering, and I was quite sure my heart would not survive that.

Well, our children got older and bigger and more capable, and all of a sudden (it seems) we realized that it was GREAT to have big kids.  I mean, we seriously ADORE big kids.  They are so fantastic!  So the need in my heart to have more babies was assuaged.

As a convenient career option, I opened a preschool in our home.  In planning for that, I was certified as a facilitator for Good Touch/Bad Touch, a sexual abuse prevention program for pre-K to 6th grade students.  I taught GT/BT in three different schools--plus my preschool--for 6 years.  There was not a year that I didn't have to call DCFS to report possible abuse of a child (including some of my preschoolers).  Oh, how this would break my heart!  I would cry, and Spencer would say, "Are you sure this is worth it?"  I would reply, "If not me, who?"

It was during these 6 years that Spencer and I realized that I have an incredible capacity to love children, and they sense it.  Spencer says I could go to a grocery store and bring home any child because they would gladly come with me.  And I would love it!  Children wave at me from across the store.  I have full conversations with little ones when we are in an elevator or standing in line, and most of the time I do not instigate it.

This sounds like I'm bragging, but I'm not.  The point is that God put me on a path to love and bless children, and I hardly knew it was happening.  I am incredibly blessed to have borne 4 wonderful children; I love our nieces and nephews (and now their children) in ways I never thought possible; I have given safe harbor to dozens (maybe hundreds) of children, if only for a few hours; I can serve in the Primary and there is not one child who I don't absolutely adore.

I am convinced that those RD stories and my feelings of needing to adopt were placed directly in my path to prepare my mind and heart for the ability to love and bless all children.  I hope to have more opportunities to love and teach (and learn from!!!) many more children throughout my life.  Mmm. Delicious thought!


Kim and Preston said...

I love your inspiring story you are so good about putting your life into words. THank you for inspiring me.