A few years ago, I was at the swimming pool with the kids. We were just enjoying the kiddie pool and being refreshed from the humidity. It was a relaxing day, not a day you expect to learn something that you think about on a regular basis for the next five years.
A friend of mine had joined us at the pool, as well as my friend’s sister. I commented that each of us had four kids. Then my friend casually mentioned that her sister had to have a hysterectomy when her fourth was born, so she was done having kids. I think because we were all in similar situations in life, this one difference stuck with me. I thought, “well, now she doesn’t have to make the decision of when to be done having kids,” she can just accept her four kids, and make her family into an awesome four-kid family. But I realized that my friend’s sister might not see it that way. She might have been sad or angry that she couldn’t have more kids.
The whole thing sort of made me step back and wonder what in my life should I just accept and do the best with. I had another friends who had one child and was struggling to have more. I could easily imagine just having fun with one child, enrolling them in whatever activity they wanted, giving them your full attention, or going to work once they were in school. That other friend was really just focused on having a second child though.
And this isn’t just about the number of kids one has. It can apply to all aspects of our lives: whether we work or stay at home (or work from home), whether our husbands work a lot, whether we live in an interesting place, whether we live close to family, whether it snows half the year, etc.
So I thought, how frequently do I fail to bloom where I am planted? How frequently do I fail to see the awesome things I could be doing with my life? It takes real introspection, or maybe analyzing how others see you, to recognize the advantages you have in your unique situation.
If I had five kids under eight, lived in Southern California, enjoyed sports, had a husband who worked long hours, had a husband who also loves to play with the kids, live in a beautiful and diverse community, speak Spanish, and lived near family, what should I be doing with the advantages I have? How can I bloom where I am planted?
As a corollary, I spend a lot of time thinking about the things that I can’t change right now, but that with a considerable effort, I will be able to change them eventually. For example, I would like to have more than three bedrooms to house my husband, myself, and five kids. I can’t attain that goal yet, but I will eventually, so I work hard to attain it sooner rather than later. But the lack of larger house does occupy my thoughts too much, and I think it keeps me from seeing that the kids have amazing friends where we live now, we live close to their school, we can go for family bike rides, we don’t have yard work, and I don’t have as big a house to keep clean.
Let’s open this up to each other. If someone else saw you in your unique situation, what would they consider your advantages or things you are missing out on? How can you make those advantages a larger part of your life?