Seasons of Motherhood

Originally Appeared in : 9718-8/31/17

I read with great joy and excitement the news of my fellow columnist, Jason Halcombe, and his family expansion pack! What an exciting time  – we are so happy for Magan and Jason. Congratulations on the new little one.


It still surprises me, here and there, when a rash of pregnancy announcements surface and I’m not among them. It’s just an observation, and at this point, it doesn’t carry with it much emotion. Babies are indeed a gift from the Lord, a blessing to be celebrated. And for many years, whenever a few people were announcing a new baby, Paul and I tended to be among them.


Having a new baby every few years, a person starts to feel like they are in the “baby club.” It’s an excellent place to be, but also carries with it all the roller coaster vibes of life with tiny humans. You learn to live on less sleep, to endure some level of chaos. It’s wonderful and stressful and so exciting. Life with a growing family is an adventure.


And then, you get so caught up in the forward motion of family life; you forget to notice how quickly you are moving. You acknowledge it and can’t believe it, and the number of candles on the birthday cakes keep getting higher. But still, it’s life and it’s all part of the deal.


And then something strange happens. You look up or step back. You get to a point where you’ve had enough time to collect yourself, and you realize, hey, we have left a particular season of family life and are headed into something different.


So it is with Paul and me, with our family in this crazy new season. Our baby is going into second grade. We are no longer among the people announcing a new baby. 


If it seems like I’m sad, well...I’m not sure. I can’t tell. Of course, there is a part of a person that always recognizes and celebrates the gift of new life. Welcoming a new human being into the family is always beautiful and good.


But as my husband likes to say, “Someone has to be last. There will eventually be the last baby.”


And the funny thing with the last baby is you tend not to announce that  – not in the Catholic Church anyway. You have that sweet baby and keep doing life and next thing you know, another baby has not come along, and your youngest is seven!


Last week at Mass I sat behind a family that had just had their eighth child and in front of them a good friend of mine who just had her ninth. And because my boys are getting bigger and also serve on the altar, I was a person sitting in a pew with just a handful of my kids.


What a strange feeling.


And I had this thought, as I sat there feeling like I was getting away with something  – surrounded by bigger kids and not more little squirming toddlers and beautiful babies. The thought I had was, our God is a God of the ages.


For the longest time, my identity as a mother came from my times of being pregnant and having small children. That’s the season I was in and while it was very hard at times, I loved it deeply.


And now, here, with bigger kids and no more babies and maybe, at this point, knowing that six will be the number of children we have, well I’m in a new place. Motherhood isn’t about pregnancy and sleepless nights but about teenagers and sleepless nights. It’s about parenting bigger kids and all that comes with that.


And God is a God for that too. He’s in the vocation of young mothers, and he is here with the moms of bigger kids, too. 


What I have to remember, as I move towards this new season, is to focus on the duty of this moment, the one right now, and do whatever God asks me to do. That is what makes our faith timeless  – that when we keep God in the center of everything we do, what we are doing becomes something beautiful for him.


Rachel Swenson Balducci is a freelance writer and member of Most Holy Trinity Church, Augusta. She can be reached at rsbalducci@diosav.org.

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