Oh man, before you read this, let me share a little something. So this is my weekly column, which I wrote last week. I wrote it, was very very honest about some things in here, and then started to second guess myself. Sometimes, I will jot something down in my weekly column and then hit delete-delete-delete because I’m just not sure I’m ready to publicly proclaim whatever that particular sentence happens to be.
This week, I kind of had that thought and then decided to err on the side of honesty, which is: of all our children, only one of them was “planned.” Is that a shocking thing to admit? I can’t decide.
So here it is, this week’s column:
Henry turned five last week. Can you believe that?
Life moving at the speed of light seems to be my overriding theme lately, and I wonder if that’s just the theme of motherhood in general. It certainly is at this point, this season we now find ourselves. Here the summer is halfway gone and I’ve barely had a chance to collect my thoughts on the school year ending.
When I was first a mom, in those first five or six years of motherhood, life moved so slow. I wondered if I would always be the mom chasing small children, looking on at the older, wiser mothers who had actual conversations with their children. Those women were seasoned veterans of the motherhood scene, while my life seemed destined to always focus on loading and unloading carseats and wiping runny noses.
Snap! Like that, how long ago those days now seem.
I have a little secret I want to share with you, something I know I shouldn’t say but I’m going to say it just the same: of all our children, Henry is the only one we “planned.”
I laugh thinking about that now. How funny to think that we planned Henry. You could emphasize any one of those three words and it would still be wrong. The idea that we (me and Paul) planned (deciding now was the time) Henry (a baby we co-created with God and still had no idea who this creature would be) seems so preposterous.
I won’t lie: it was nice to be on that side of things, on the side where you think you have your ducks in a row enough to proclaim that, “yes, yes, now is the perfect time for us to have another baby!” That had not been our experience to that point.
Miracle number one was that we even got to that place. After our first four boys (all beautiful surprises only in the sense that we did nothing to prevent them from getting here) — after four babies in five years, that was all I could handle. I told God (with as much humility and love as I could muster) that I needed to take a break from ushering in more Balducci babies. I needed to take care of all the babies we had.
So we got very good at Natural Family Planning (the Church’s suggested method for postponing pregnancy) and actually kind of thought four was probably going to be it for us. It was a lot, all things considered, and the best I could do was take life one day at a time.
To our great surprise and delight, enough years went by and we got our wits about us. Suddenly we didn’t feel as overwhelmed by life, by small little boys. Our boys grew and we realized that it’s true, babies don’t keep. The harsh, challenging seasons give way to something new — newfound energy and fun as you watch your children get bigger.
When Henry came along, after five years without a baby, we were delighted and overjoyed. We took the plunge, prayerfully considered another baby and decided to try. The timing was right, the season was now.
How ironic that the one “planned” pregnancy was the hardest, most emotionally and physically draining of the bunch. I don’t really know what that means other than even with all our great planning, I was still relying on the mercy of God. I found myself begging for his grace now more than ever.
God had a plan for this baby, and as much as I’d like to think we planned Henry, the truth is God did. God had a plan for this child — as he does for every child — and I’m just so humbled that we get to be a part of that plan, that I get to be his mother.
Henry is five. What a gift! And like all our babies — those we “planned” and otherwise — I am so grateful to Jesus that he saw fit to send them into our world.