I have had to give up many things on my journey to motherhood. I had to grieve what should have been, what could have been, and what never was. One of the biggest things I had to grieve, in addition to the loss of my babies, is that my family will never look the way I dreamed it would. I come from a family of five children. When I was a young child, I dreamed I would have 18 children, and my husband and I would make a nice even 20. And I wanted to name them all Rainbow. Now, as silly as that is, it shows how deep inside me I always wanted a large family. As I grew older, I imagined myself and my future husband having five kids like my parents, or six kids. I thought it would be fun to have one more than what I grew up with because if five is good, six is even better.
As I grew into an adult, I would see smaller families, maybe with one or two children, and think, “Oh how sad. That must be lonely for those kids.” I would see bigger families and think of how wonderful and blessed they were. After I married the love of my life, I knew one day we would start a family, never even beginning to imagine the pain that might follow. I could almost hear the cacophony of laughter of our future children, all five or six of them. I could almost see our kids in my mind’s eye, and I would imagine Christmases with seven or eight stockings, family vacations in our big van driving across country, and two or three kids sharing one room with bunk beds in each room. I could feel the love and the joy even before God placed any children in our home. My husband was an only child until he was 10, and then had a half-brother he lived with until he was 16. For him, he never worried about his family size, and he never felt like he missed that much, but in my mind he really had. He agreed he would want to have more than one child, so that our children could have at least one sibling, but he would be happy with whatever God would give.
After five years of marriage, we decided we wanted to start a family. Before we had kids, I felt like Todd and I were not a family yet. In my head, I felt you had to have children to be a family. After a year of trying to have a baby, I was diagnosed with infertility, and we knew that having children would be challenging. My dreams of that huge family started to evaporate as the years went by. Since then, we’ve had to say goodbye to three babies, two in the first trimester and our son, Gideon, at 8 months pregnant. We now have two living children, and that is likely the only living children we will have. It is a far cry from the six children of my dreams. If I were to judge my family the way I did other families, I would look at us and say, “Oh how sad. That must be lonely for those kids.” And honestly, that is precisely what I would do. I looked at my family as less than others because I put more value on larger families. I would devalue my own family because, in my heart, we were less than big families. It has been a knife in my heart to see my two children at home, when really there should be three boys and two other children. I should have five kids if all of them had survived.
While my family will never be complete because we are missing children from our family, my little family still has value. I am the mom of five, even if I only get to raise two children. I have to let go of what I dreamed my life would be. I have to let go of the desire of my childhood and realize God has us here right now for a purpose. Proverbs 19:21 says “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I have found value in my little family. We matter. We are important. God sees us equal to families with 10 children. One is not greater than the other. I spent years looking down on my life because it wasn’t how I planned. But not anymore.
When Todd and I were a couple, I didn’t see us as a family. But we were! And God used us in that time. We had nine beautiful years of marriage before we brought home our first living child. And now, God has used us as a small family in ways He couldn’t use a larger family. Just like He uses larger families in a way He doesn’t use smaller families. Single people are valued and loved by Him, too. Single parents with children are seen by God and used in many ways, too! Those of you parents with just babies in heaven, your family matters and has a value greater than gold. One of them is not better than the other. We are all loved by the Creator. We are all in this time and place for a reason, and God will walk alongside us and use our lives for good and for His glory. We simply need to believe that He will! While I have given up my dreams of driving a big van and having numerous children in my home, I can continue to dream big and great dreams! I see the value in my family, and I see the value in your family. No matter what kind of family you have, you are truly blessed.
♥ Stormy Mitchell Mommy to Avery, Gideon and Joy M.E.N.D.—Houston Chapter Director