“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” -St. Mother Teresa
I have always loved this quote, but struggled with it too. However, there is truth here, and I am learning to live it daily.
When I was pregnant with Noel, I struggled so much with what others might think of a fourth child. I know I shouldn't have let it bug me, but I did. There were some people that I still let into influence my thinking at the time that weren't positive about another child. And in fact sometimes weren't really positive about the ones I already had. Honestly, this type of thinking stemmed way back to 10 years ago when I was engaged to my now husband, and I'm sure even before. You see, I let in counsel to someone I trusted, and the one objection to me converting to Catholicism along with marrying my husband was that, "those Catholics, they just have so many children." I didn't have the background that celebrated children as always being a gift, instead they were financial burdens or things to fit in to a narcissistic life.
But Noel, despite my internal battle was a gift, a true gift in so many ways. I remember the time I told my students about him and just the absolute joy they had in celebrating a new life was amazing. I don't think I'll ever forget that day because honestly, I don't think I've ever experienced that much joy from someone else about something/someone in my life. It really was eye opening.
And then as I sometimes struggle with my kids and their well, being kid like, I was upset about something that my one son did in the presence of another teacher. Later talking with that teacher he recanted it in a positive manner, one which again celebrated the life the gift that the child was instead of a sum of his faults.
Recently, a dear friend kept witnessing my crying so much at church this past summer, because for some reason the Holy Spirit just brings the tears there, the much needed tears. She gave me a note and a dear little painted heart shaped rock, with the words "Jesus wept". Oh so appropriate words they were and are. My friend remembered my dear little baby, this baby that only was with us for so long. My friend didn't judge one bit about timing or family size, but loved and saw that I loved, and for this I am so grateful.
You see, I think to this point I didn't think that there really was a place where every life could be really celebrated in its entirety. I was broken and couldn't see it, I couldn't see it in the people around me, I instead always felt judged or judged myself. I think its odd to say that death has brought an understanding of joy, but yet somehow I think it is so for me. I think seeing people have authentic joy over life has been one of many lessons little Noel has fruitfully taught me. And in that joy, I feel like I can finally understand more about gratitude. And while I know there is thanks in the suffering, I think the thanks in the joy, this, this has been missing for me, and I am so very grateful to be learning this now.
There is more, but I will save that for another time.