Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Numbers

2nd trimester . . . that's what I'm wishing I'd enjoyed a little more. Now that I have just three months to go, I'm feeling the exhaustion of pregnancy keenly. I'm trying to be upbeat and positive and remind myself what a blessing this little girl is, but frankly, I'm tired of being pregnant. I'm tired of being tired. I'm tired of needing naps in the afternoon because I can't sleep soundly at night. I long for days when I have abundant energy and I don't have to carefully choose my activities so I don't exhaust myself too soon. I'm tired of putting off projects for that elusive "someday" when I somehow find more energy. I'm tired of feeling awkward and knowing it's only going to get worse. I'm tired of feeling like a wimp because all I do for exercise now is walk on the treadmill.

But at the same time, I am thankful that this is what I've chosen. I've freely chosen to make sacrifices in other areas of my life so I can bear and nurture my children. I've chosen to allow this child to enter our lives, knowing (probably better than most women!) just how uncomfortable, exhausting and inconvenient it would be. I've done so with faith that the blessings of a happy family and a posterity who love each other and try to do good in the world will be worth all I can give it.

A family is a long-term investment. It takes patience and faith to daily fill its needs, with hope that the future will be rich. It's like regularly placing money into a savings account. It takes discipline to give up the things you want and desire now in order to put that money aside and especially in the early years, that account seems to grow agonizingly slow. But because of compounding interest, over time, it will grow into something amazingly abundant.

We knew a man once who took pride in his "continuing education" which consisted mostly of attending one "get-rich-quick" presentation after another. He didn't have the patience for the self-restraint and the regular deposits that would have made him wealthy over a long period of time. He wanted his results fast and there were plenty of people willing to teach him how to do it. As a result, though he was well along in life, he was no closer to being wealthy than he had been when he was young. If he'd spent the years he'd wasted looking for shortcuts simply putting aside a little bit here and there, he'd have had his wealth and the lessons learned from a life of patience.

Similarly, there are so many voices in the world that will tell women about the quick way to happiness and fulfillment. Most of them involve self-absorption, fulfillment, and following dreams. A career, recognition from peers, a lot of money, prestige, plenty of leisure time to vacation, hobbies -- those are the means to a happy life. Sacrificing yourself to build a family? Using your body to create life? Not very important. A young woman is allowed to want to be a teacher, a doctor, an astronaut, but have her tell her class that someday, she wants to be a mother, and you'll find a stunned silence.

10.5 weeks . . . that's how long it's been since my marathon. It feels like years. I feel a bit let down that I haven't been able to continue the full-out physical effort it took to get to that point in my life, first because I had to let my knee heal and then because life and pregnancy have interfered with my lofty intentions. It's been interesting that after reaching that huge milestone, I have had a hard time reminding myself that walking regularly is still a good form of exercise! Sure, it's not what I was doing in the summer, but it's enough for this season of my life.

5 years . . .
that's how long we've lived here, in the "dream house" I designed myself and we built, mostly on faith. I love this message about the different ways revelation comes into our lives. Some experiences with revelation, says Elder Bednar, are like a light turning on in a dark room. We are immediately illuminated and we know what we are to do. Other experiences, and more commonly, are like the sun rising slowly, gradually filling our world with light and understanding. Most of my experiences have been the second, but I have had moments of the absolute knowledge that comes with the first kind of revelation. One such moment for me, was the day six years ago when I had an overwhelming impression that we needed to buy the lot that our current home is built on. It was a miracle we even got the lot, since it wasn't even for sale the day I felt we should buy it. It appeared on the MLS three days later and within a week, we'd had our offer accepted. Within two weeks, there two back-up offers.

It really made no sense to build our final dream home at that period in our lives. My husband had only just started his career, and the money he made fluctuated greatly from month to month. He was very busy with his career and we had five small children to care for. But we prayed often and plunged into the exciting and overwhelming world of building. Interestingly enough, we've been amazed at the timing of it all. Not only did we build just at the right time to secure our lot, we also bought the lot $100,000 cheaper than similar lots went for at the height of the housing bubble just a year later. Because we started building before the bubble burst, we were able to secure advantageous financing on generous terms.

I designed our house with a large family in mind, wanting to balance the needs of the future with the practicalities of today. We cut frills where-ever we could, both in the design of the home and in it's finishing. We wanted a nice, easy-to-maintain home with just the basics. But we also wanted it big enough for the size our family would grow to and have enough space for large family gatherings. We've felt blessed to have the space for our family and have tried to be generous in opening our home to others. I know that most large families make do with much smaller spaces, and while I try never to think that we need this much space, it sure is nice to have.

We've been blessed with good neighbors. We've been blessed that our kids are able to walk to a quality school nearby. We've been blessed to have a large backyard for the kids to romp and play in.

I mean really, with this in the backyard, is it any wonder that I love living here?

34 . . . that's how old I'll be this week on my birthday. A few weeks ago, I felt young. Now, with the exhaustion of the pregnancy and the date of the birthday approaching, I'm feeling older. As a gift to myself, I set a goal to get on the treadmill for at least twenty minutes every day this week. Yesterday, I ran intervals, but it was quite uncomfortable and I ended with my back aching for the rest of the day (Did I mention I'm tired of being pregnant?). I think I'll stick to walking from here on out and forget feeling guilty about it.

I don't feel any regrets about getting older. I'm amazed when I consider all that I've been able to fit into those 34 years. I'm happy with the way I've used my time and energy and that some of the toughest years of parenting are behind me.

Despite the irritations of pregnancy, I'm in the best shape I've been in my adult life. I lost 35 lbs this year and ran a marathon. Those are pretty awesome accomplishments and I'm grateful for the difference that has made in my ability to keep up with the myriad demands on my life.

I've grown a lot in my 34 years. I'm less judgmental and more charitable than I've been in the past. I'm more forgiving of myself. I'm better at discerning where to put my efforts on a daily basis. I'm more confident in my choices and less worried about what others think.

I'm grateful for my husband and that our marriage has been strong enough to withstand all the stress we put on it. I'm thankful he is willing to work hard to support us and that he adores his family.

I'm thankful for two crazy boys. So close in age and yet so amazingly different in looks and personality!

I'm thankful to have so many girls in my life. I hope I can be the kind of example they need.

I'm incredibly blessed to see my older children turning into responsible, thoughtful, enjoyable people that I love spending time with. I love having little ones who adore me and tell me I'm the best mom in the whole world. I love having my life filled with amazing little people and I'm grateful for the prospect of meeting and welcoming another one.

Happy Birthday to me!

13 comments:

Archer's Mum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tristan said...

Happy birthday!

I hear you about missing the 2nd trimester/dreading the changes of the 3rd. I'm 30 weeks tomorrow and have solidly moved into the "uncomfortable" stage of pregnancy. If the baby moves I need to pee. If I stand up too long or take the kids on a trip somewhere my back hurts. If I sit too long my sciatic nerve hurts - 3 hours of church is pretty much torture...LOL. Heartburn is starting to arrive in the middle of the night.

And yet it's all worth it.

I remember than better when I've had my nap.
;)

Amber said...

i have exercised my entire life- played sports all through high school- but I could never keep up that rigor during pregnancy. Walking is great. I also had some great pregnancy exercise videos that had nice stretching routines and really made me feel good. My favorite was a yoga one for pregnancy, I always felt so good afterwards. I didn't think yoga was rigorous enough-- but it's actually harder than it looks, and I feel so good when I'm done. Just thought I'd share. Keep up the good work!! Happy birthday!!

Courtney said...

What a great post! So uplifting and I love how you talk about your priorities and where they are- in your family. You always amaze me and I'm so glad you share your thoughts with the rest of us.

Valerie said...

Happy Birthday!
Great post about all the things that really matter in life.

Diane said...

Well, Happy Birthday!! I hope you have a good one!

Happy 3rd trimester if there really is such a thing, but getting to the end is not bad.

"I know that most large families make do with much smaller spaces, and while I try never to think that we need this much space, it sure is nice to have." I think your house is great and so perfect for a big family. I don't think you need to worry about having too much, you are filling it Heavenly Fathers spirits and therefore opening it up and using it to build Zion. I actually, love my much smaller home, and am really grateful that we have what we have.

Maryanne said...

Happy Birthday to you! You have fit an amazing lot of good into your life-- I have a hard time believing you're only 1.5 years older than me b/c you seem so much wiser. :) I hope the time will pass quickly this trimester!

swedemom said...

This entry made me tear up. I love what you wrote about the sacrifices and meaning of having a large family--and what it has cost you (but also given you) personally.

My husband was visiting with a co-worker yesterday, a man who has chosen not to have children. My husband casually asked if he and his wife had ever thought about having children. This man said they had but had ruled it out because it requires so much work and demands so much responsibility. My husband agreed but also said that the rewards were very great. To which this man sadly replied that he hadn't thought about those things when the time was right, quietly expressing regret for what he doesn't have now. It was a telling conversation and one that I've been thinking about a lot. The last few days, my heart has been blessed to feel so much joy and love for my family. The sacrifices I've made to have my children, to be a wife are so minor and small compared to all that I've gained. As hard as it is to be a mother, I'll take it. I'll take the hard times so I can feel the joy that I have now.

Mama Rachel said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Thank you for such a beautiful post. :-)

Hugs,
Rachel

Catey said...

Happy Birthday to you!!
I am so grateful to have "met" you this year! (hopefully we can eventually actually meet! lol) You are such a fabulous example and I so appreciate your thoughts and perspective on big families....it's so nice to know someone else who gets it. And still I feel like you are so much more mature in your appreciation of it than I often am....giving me more to strive toward. :)

Prasetyo said...

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But, dont forget to give us your comment into my blog ya.

Thanks for share.

Corine said...

Happy Birthday!!! You have a fabulous life worth CELEBRATING! :D I'm incredibly happy for you and your beautiful family!

PS. I just read that studies show that the #1 way to promote personal happiness is by reaching out and thanking people for the positive impacts they have made in your life. (Aspire, by Kevin Hall; I'm very excited to read this book!) I'm sure you have plenty of opportunities to thank the wonderful little people God has placed in your life... how much happiness can a person experience? ;) You are so very blessed...

Hugs,
Corine :D

Stacey said...

Happy birthday to you! You have such a beautiful family and so much to be proud of!

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