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.
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!