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How To Know You’re Done Having Kids

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To mamas known and mamas unknown. This post is for you.

I’ve wanted to write this for a while, for mamas undecided, for mamas who aren’t quite sure whether they’re done having kids or not.

So mamas? Let’s chat about this question that’s pressing on your heart…

How will I know when I’m done having kids?

But before we get started, I want to take time to acknowledge special groups of mamas out there because this post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who have grieved the loss of an infant or child, I hear your cries, I feel your pain, your longing to see, touch your baby just one more day. This post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who are experiencing infertility, who have tried for months, years to conceive? I pray you will be blessed with child. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who have been called to adopt, and are in the seemingly never-ending waiting process, bless your soul. You inspire me. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who are unable to bear children of your own, can’t afford adoption or infertility treatments, or are “too old” to be considered a candidate for such things, but long for a child to love? My heart goes out to you. I pray that God will work a miracle, I pray He’ll place children in your life through other means, and that those children will bring you great joy and fulfillment. This post may or may not be for you. 

For mamas who whole-heartedly embrace natural family planning, for those who hope to bear as many children as the Lord will provide until He carries you gently into menopause? You are amazing and an inspiration as well. This post may not be for you.

For mamas who became pregnant due to rape, incest, sexual abuse, prostitution or trafficking, and you’ve made the incredible decision to birth, raise or place this child for adoption? May peace and blessings be poured out on your life. May you find the freedom and healing you need. Press on mama. You are incredibly brave. This post may not be for you.

For mamas of children who have special needs, who have to weigh and measure your decision to have more children NOT based on your heart of hearts, but on your reality of caring for your child with special needs? You are precious, a rare gem. Follow your heart, trust your instincts, take your time, and engage God, medical professionals, therapists, and those closest to you about your decision to have more children or not. Whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for you and your family. This post may or may not be for you.

For mamas who have a history of abortion, who want to heal, overcome, create, birth and raise a little life someday, but aren’t ready, aren’t sure, aren’t feeling worthy of the call to be mama? This post may not be for you.

For mamas in other special circumstances – pregnant in your teens, pregnant in your forties, pregnant after years of infertility treatments, living in extreme poverty, living with mental illness or a significant medical condition, living amidst chronic trauma? This post may or may not be for you.

For all you mamas who KNOW you’re NOT done having kids, awesome. This post may not be for you (yet).

So who is this post for?

This post is for any mama who’s debating…

How will I know when I’m done having kids?

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Let me tell you a quick story. Our two oldest children are 11 and 9 years old. Our “baby” is 2 years old. So there’s nearly seven years between our second and third child. During those years in-between baby two and three, there were a couple things that made us question whether we should have more children. I sought answers, I sought wise counsel, and I wasn’t sure how to answer when people asked if we were done having kids. The truth was, I didn’t have confidence I was “done,” and my husband was willing to consider having another. So while the questions still lingered, our biological clocks were ticking. Finally, we committed to pray hard about it for one week. We felt led to try for a third child and became pregnant within months. Our third child has been a significant blessing for our entire family, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world. But now I’m 100% confident that we’re done having kids.

So I thought I’d share with you today what that looks like, what that feels like…to know, to be confident that you’re DONE having kids.

Here are 11 signs you MIGHT be done having kids…

1) You just KNOW you’re done having kids. Yes, you just know. This is hard to describe, but is the best all-around indicator that you’re done. It’s a feeling of complete clarity.

2) When another mama announces she’s pregnant, you’re happy for her, but her announcement doesn’t compel you to have another child yourself. In other words, other mamas’ pregnancies don’t stir in you a desire to become pregnant anymore.

3) When your “baby” is still your baby, and other “babies” her same age are becoming big brothers and sisters? And it hasn’t even crossed your mind to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister? And you don’t have any plans to give your “baby” a baby brother or sister any time in the future? Ya, you might be done having kids.

3) Maybe you’re the kind of mama who loved being pregnant. You still admire pregnant mamas’ beautiful, round bellies and glowing skin, and maybe you’d even choose to be pregnant again (just the pregnancy part). But you can’t quite picture yourself doing that newborn stage all over again, and you can’t picture yourself doing another round of middle of the night feedings, and you can’t picture yourself going through any of that all over again.

4) You remember labor and delivery all too well. You haven’t forgotten. In fact, you remember that last labor and delivery quite vividly. You promised yourself you’d never do this again! And you’re still confident. You won’t ever do that again.:)

5) When other mamas give birth and bring that little babe home, you’re glad to greet, hold and help with the baby, but not so quick to want to step in their shoes.

6) When it’s time to start putting away the baby stuff, you realize it’s actually time to get rid of it. And for the most part, you have no problem selling it, donating it, or giving it to someone. In fact, when any of your kids grow out of anything, you want to get rid of it right away, because you’re just ready to move beyond this baby, toddler, little kiddo clutter.

7) You’re willing to consider longer-term and/or permanent options for birth control. (Yes, I know this is a private, sensitive and potentially controversial subject, but I’ve seen many age/stage peers discuss this openly within a trusted group of friends when they know they’re done having kids. So I’m confident this is a significant sign.)

8) Your own dreams as a woman start moving to the forefront again. You look at where you’ve been, you look ahead at what’s to come, and the years flash before you. Time is ticking in a different way than before you had children. Life is only so long. So as much as you adore your children, you also know you need space to pursue the desires of your heart, space to make your way again.

9) You’re suddenly open to expanding your definition of “motherhood” to include children you engage with at work, in the neighborhood, at church, at family gatherings, and anywhere else you can get your hands on kids to fulfill those motherly instincts and desires you have. You don’t have to be everyone’s mother to be satisfied; being a motherly figure is just fine with you now.

10) You start daydreaming, just a little bit, of becoming a grandmother. And it sounds awesome, even better than motherhood. You know this isn’t the end. More than likely, you’ll have an opportunity to grand-mother your own grandkids or someone else’s grandkids down the road.

11) On good days, you feel perfectly in control of the children you have. Everything’s dandy. On bad days, you feel like you’re barely maintaining control of the children you have. And in the midst of very bad moments, you feel like you’re hanging on by a shoestring; you could truly use a little help. In your heart of hearts, you know that if you had one more child, you wouldn’t be able to care for your children the way you want to. Just the thought of that makes you very, very sad. Reality sets in. THIS. is the number of kids I’m supposed to have. You love your kids. You want to care and nurture your children to the best of your ability. And you want the best for your kids. You also know how much work it is to raise human beings, how much effort it takes to be a mother on call 24/7. So you know, this decision is for the best. It’s time to be done having kids. Because you want to love the children you’ve been blessed with oh so much.

So mamas, I’m not a psychologist, a doctor, or a child development researcher. And I’m certainly not God. But I am a mama. So mama to mama, heart to heart, I ask you to consider the points above and make your way accordingly. If you’re torn and confused, pray about it. The answer will become much more clear.

This isn’t so much a science as it is a matter of the heart.

Be gentle with yourself, mama. God has a plan for you and your family.

pinksig

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTES ABOUT THIS POST:

I’m aware of the sensitive nature of this post. I could have easily written this post with a snarky, comedic tone. But that is not my nature. Rather, I have been careful to approach this subject with due diligence and honor, knowing there are many different views on child bearing.

I am also fully aware that I neglected to address fathers’ influence and involvement in this post. Obviously, fathers are critical to this discussion. My decision to keep fathers out of this post (for the most part) does not in ANY WAY downplay their significance in parenting or decision making. My desire was for this post to be written for a mama’s heart. Dads, if you would like to hear a dad’s opinion on this matter, perhaps I can talk my husband into writing a similar post from a male perspective?!

The 11 points I listed in this post do not represent every woman’s experience. But I wanted to put something out in the blogosphere for the woman who’s seeking answers to this age old question. How will I know I’m done having kids? I hope and pray this post lands on the screen of the souls who need it most. 

If this post finds you in the midst of questioning, feel free to email me at amybpederson@hotmail.com and I’m happy to chat it through with you in a more “intimate” setting. I’m honored to say I’ve walked one mama through this questioning, and she and her husband ultimately decided to have a fourth child, a decision they have clearly delighted in to this day.

Jessica Revak Milkes - Amy this is just perfect!! You and I are on the same page :). I’m always proud to call you my friend & I’m always amazed at what is in that beautiful mind of yours. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!! July 23, 2014 – 3:55 pm

Colleen Chastek Leaver - I loved this Amy!! Great Post. It took me back to the days when I had those very same questions rolling through my head and many of the answers to those questions I found here in your post.. The very same questions I asked myself and the same answers that lead me to my decision that our family was complete with 3 boys. EVEN though I longed to have a girl, in my heart of hearts, I knew 3 was my number :))July 23, 2014 – 1:34 pm

LeAnn Sather - I clearly remember the day you came to me at a business event and asked the question of me about having more babies. Our two oldest are the same age and then I had two more before your baby was born. I feel honored that you felt compelled to ask me about how we ever made the decision to have one more. I told you that if it was so heavy on your heart that you would never regret having one more beautiful life, but you may grow older and wonder and regret not having one more and then it would be too late. We even struggled for a couple of years about adding number 5. We are both now confident that 4 is the number that God intended us to raise. Prayer is definitely the best way to seek clarity. Beautiful post Amy.July 23, 2014 – 9:34 am

When It’s Mid-Summer and Your Kids Are Bored

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We had one cold, windy and dreary day on Monday. According to the weather forecasters, it was the coldest day we’ve seen in Minnesota on July 14th since 1884.

We were all cold. And quite honestly, we didn’t have much to do. Yep, the good ‘ol mid-summer phrase “I’m bored” came out for the first time that afternoon.

So what’s a mom to do when she has three kids who are acting bored out of their minds, it’s the coldest it’s been in 130 years, no friends are around, and another DVD just won’t cut it for mom or anyone else?

Think of a wholesome, very boring activity, and do it.

Boring, you say? Yep. Boring. Boring to them. Incredibly brilliant to you. Because mom? You know “boring” activities aren’t really boring. The kids just don’t know it yet.

So break out all the boring things from here on out. Like that boring, old fashioned activity where you all get down on the ground and draw with some sidewalk chalk. Color hearts until they shine like the sun, then let the toddler doodle right over them because it doesn’t matter anyway. Draw flowers in pots with blue skies, write your name in bubble letters layered with red, green and blue. Let her bring her furry blanket outside on the driveway and tuck away under it like a turtle for as long as she wants. And don’t even make a big deal of it when the pre-teen shows up. Because he’s too cool for sidewalk chalk. If you stay still, if you don’t say a word, he’ll join in for a little fun too. And let them get dirty, because there’s no reason they need to be clean at the end of this boring old day anyway.

And mom? Make sure you soak this moment in. Because this is boring. Truly boring stuff. It’s mid-summer. And life is boring. As boring as it’ll ever get.

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Identifying Your Identity

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Four months ago, I met with wise counsel in a coffee shop. She sat with me for three or four hours. I hadn’t had anyone spend that much focused one-on-one time with me, be so patient and gentle, listen so intently, or ask such thoughtful, deep questions of me for a long time.

I needed somebody to listen, hear the whole story, help me filter, discern without judgement or bias. I needed someone to process with me, and I needed it to happen organically, without feeling like we were under some sort of time crunch. So I scheduled more time than I thought necessary, and we filled it all. Obviously, I needed that wise counsel.

The words we shared with one another that day will always remain confidential. But there’s one thing from our conversation I would like to share with you today.

She asked me to spend some time thinking about my identity. Beyond wife, mom, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, blogger, speech therapist, former nonprofit board member, and all the other roles I’ve played in my life…

Who am I?

Strip away the roles, titles, and responsibilities. Strip away the masks and dreams of what could be. What remains of my identity? What words best describe the core of who I am?

I love questions of identity, so this really got me thinking. Add to that, I’ve spent nearly two years in an awkward in-between, more than ready to embrace and live out my true identity. So what would I say? How would I answer this question? Who am I? Who am I, really?

Here are the words that come to mind…

Introverted.

Sensitive.

Emotional.

Deeply intuitive.

Kind.

Patient.

Realistic.

Observer of people and life.

Rapport builder.

Fairly serious.

Honest.

Compassionate.

Justice seeking.

Hard working.

Organized.

Detail oriented.

A little obsessive.

Giving.

Contemplative.

Deep thinker.

Conservative.

Can be quiet.

Can be really talkative if the stars align (setting + personality match + subject matter).

Christian.

Child of God.

So what’s the point? Why identify your identity?

1) We need to keep our identity grounded in what’s truly significant. Our worth comes NOT from what we do, how much we accomplish, how many kids we have, or how big our houses or bank accounts are. Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away. What remains at the end of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? You. What remains at the end of a beautiful, marvelous, spectacular, very good day? You. Our worth is best judged based on our identity rather than our circumstances. As they say, you’re so much more than what’s happened to you.

2) Our lives should, ideally, reflect the whole of our identities. God created you for a reason, to fulfill a specific purpose during your time here on earth. All the intricate little parts of you come together to create all of you. So does your day to day life reflect your true identity? Do you feel like you’ve been wearing a mask, trying to please, living a life others created for you, hoped for you? Was your identity trampled on somewhere along the way, have you stuffed it away in hidden places nobody knows but you? Are the most authentic parts of your identity yet to be tapped? Are you desperate to embrace your identity rather than reject or half-heartedly live it out?

Let me share one great example of how identity recently showed up in my life…

This week I’ve been reflecting, yet again, on my trip to Haiti with Compassion International. In all my deep thought, I realized something important. One of the reasons I loved Haiti so much was that the trip was 100% in line with my identity. Every aspect of my identity was tapped during that trip. I didn’t have to work hard. I didn’t wear any masks. I was at peace. And I was filled to the brim with joy of another kind. Because I was living out my true identity. Who I am flowed out naturally during that week in Haiti. I didn’t have to reach out, grab onto, or construct some false, half-hearted identity. To have that opportunity, to live 100% in line with my identity was a beautiful experience. So from that point forward, I committed to living differently, fully in my identity. The best way to express gratitude to God for creating us in the first place, is to whole-heartedly embrace our unique identities and live accordingly.

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So I wonder…

What’s your true identity?

Who are you?

Who are you, really?

And remember…

Our identity is what remains when all the things of this world are stripped away.

Take time for you. Give yourself a gift.

Identify your identity.

Grab a pen, sit down on a comfy chair, and take a few minutes to identify all the things that make you, you.

Then, be intentional about living your life in a way that taps into every bit of that identity.

Because this world needs ALL of you.

greensig

 

 

Change is Coming to This Blog!

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Many blogs are created for the purpose of sharing updates and everyday events with family and close friends. That was never, ever the purpose of this blog.

From its beginning, in fact, long before its beginning, this blog was created to fulfill a much different purpose. This blog was created in response to what I believe was and is a calling. God has been calling me to write, very specifically and methodically, since early 2003.

I understand that calling is a strong word choice. Believe me, I’ve debated and debated whether this is a calling for years. But after putting 11 years of pieces together, I’ve decided God has given me ample evidence. It is a calling. I have been called - by God, here in this space – to write.

With that in mind, let me state that this blog is for anyone, everyone who connects to the words I write on the screen. My words are for family and friends, most definitely, but they are also for fellow human beings all around the world. I understand these claims are big, bold, perhaps presumptuous, and maybe even scary for some of you who are family and consider my safety and privacy paramount. But I believe this sharing of a message with those known and those unknown, is what God has called me to.

The goal for my writing has always been to impact lives in deep and meaningful ways. I believe I have accomplished that goal in my two years of blogging. However, something’s been nagging in the back of my mind. While I have most definitely established my writing style, I’m not sure I’ve established my unique writing voice.

One of my favorite male bloggers, Jeff Goins, defines voice as follows

“A voice, with respect to your blog, is a feel or style evoked in your writing that causes the reader to personalize what she is reading.

 Your readers begin to construct a person based on the voice of your blog. And when that happens, your blog ceases to be all things to all people and becomes something very particular to a certain group of people.”

Jeff states in another post

“…that a blog needs a voice that is both exclusive and authentic.”

After two years of blogging and many years of reading blogs, I believe these statements to be true.

So why am I sharing all this bloggy talk with you today?

Because I want you and anyone else who visits my blog, hears about my blog, and knows about my blog, to have a very clear understanding of what I write about. What can you expect to find when you come to this place? How do we view the world similarly? What is the central theme here, at Divine In The Daily? What makes this space unique, different from other blogs? If you were asked to summarize my blog in one sentence, what would you say? If I was asked to summarize my blog in one sentence, what would I say?

These are the questions I want to answer definitively – for myself, for you, and for future readers.

You’ve been faithful readers. In fact, at this point, I consider many of you partners. So today, I’m inviting you on the next leg of this journey.

Here’s a little more information on where we’re heading…

Two weeks ago, I sat down with my husband at Caribou Coffee to discuss the long-term vision and next steps for this blog. I shared the vision that’s been milling around in my mind for nearly four months. I wanted to focus the blog. My husband said it was more a matter of “defining the topic.” It’s all just semantics anyway, because ultimately, we agreed on the vision.

I brought the vision, my heart, and knowledge of the blogging world I’ve gained to date. And he brought his business and marketing sense to the table. We worked together, scribbling a bunch of notes in a small spiral-bound notebook. Over the course of 90 minutes, we generated a framework I can use to create and define a clear, long-term, big-picture vision for this blog.

So between now and the fall of 2015, there are going to be changes happening on this blog.

I am currently working on a new blog mission, vision, tag line, guiding scripture, and core values. I will also be defining what I’m going to write about. Once these elements are made public, all of my writing will be funneled through those filters. In other words, I will only publish posts that fall within the new parameters I’ve set for the blog.

You can expect to see an updated logo on my blog home page. I will be updating my business cards, Twitter cover, and Facebook page cover as well.

Last, but not least, the “Meet Amy” and “Blog Vision” pages will be updated on my blog. This is going to be a lot of work, but is something I’ve been wanting to do for several months.

Once most of this behind the scenes work is complete, I will be sharing the new vision with you in a post similar to this one!

Then, I’ll begin writing within the parameters of my new vision. That is going to be the hard part. That is why this is all going to happen between now and the fall of 2015 (and realistically, probably beyond that). Because while the vision is definitely going to be clear, it is also fairly big. Writing is going to require a little more diligence and planning than it has in the past. And I have three small children at home. So while I define and hold the vision, I will also give myself grace. Grace to understand the vision can remain while I also maintain my most important roles as wife and mom of three.

We will grow into and through this together.

At this point, I can’t say exactly how and when all of this is going to roll out. It will defintely be in phases. If all goes well, I’m hoping to complete a good portion of the behind the scenes work no later than September 29, 2014.

For any of you who were wondering, my blog name, Divine In The Daily, will stay just as it is! You’ll still find me blogging right here at www.divineinthedaily.com. You’ll still find me writing with the same style, the same heart, the same passion and compassion. Truth be told, nothing about me or the way I write is going to change. The thing you’ll see refined the most is what I write about.

I’m making these changes to establish, very clearly, my unique writing voice. As stated earlier, I believe God has called me to write and has a message to share, through me. If I am going to answer this call to write, then I want to make sure I define and communicate that message very clearly.

It is an honor to have you as readers and traveling partners on this journey. In the days ahead, I’ll be working behind the scenes to make all of this happen. I’ve already started engaging many of you in conversation about core values on my Facebook page this week. It’s been great fun and I’m taking all you’ve said to heart. If you aren’t already following my blog Facebook page, I’d LOVE to have you join us (just click here to connect). There’s a lot of conversation that happens on Facebook that’s not visible on the blog itself.

Thanks friends, for letting me share this special news with you today! So excited for what’s to come.

pinksig

Amy - Thanks, Raquel! I can’t wait to share more with everyone. :) July 11, 2014 – 11:09 pm

raquel - Excited Amy!!! So excited to see where God is leading you in all of this.July 11, 2014 – 8:52 am

My Own Small World

I love small spaces, tiny places like Disney’s Storybook Land.

Storybook Land is whimsical, fantastical, magical.

It’s everything Disney’s cracked up to be.

Call me a sucker, but here’s the truth. Just plop me in one of Storybook Land’s boats, float me around its winding, narrow waterways built in 1955, and I’m good to go.

As I pass each wonderful world, I’m tempted to jump right over, jump right in to inhabit the small spaces and tiny places.

How wonderful would it be to become acquainted with that cottage? How peaceful would it be to stroll those stones on the way to the mail each day? How enchanting would it be to have a valiant knight in shining armor transport you to the castle on his white-as-snow horse? How quaint would it be to find yourself lost in the village, meandering ’till your soul’s caught right up with the rest of you?

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So when our favorite local nursery started carrying all the things needed to create a fairy garden, I was all in. The only problem was that I didn’t have a budget to create my own whimsical, fantastical, and magical fairy garden. So I just kept ooh-ing and ah-ing over the possibility of my own tiny worlds, thinking one day, maybe one day, it’d be possible.

One day, yes one day, on my birthday, my valiant knight in shining armor husband surprised me with a small world of my own.

Do with it as you may, do with it as you might, he said.

So I did.

I decided a fairy garden right in the garden is what I wanted.

So we dug and we planted, we moved and we marked. Arbor nestled here. Little bridge over there. Creeping thyme over here. Creeping thyme over there.

Voila!

A small space, a tiny place.

Right in our garden.

A world to get lost in, find space in, seek rest in.

A world to wonder and to wander, even if but a moment.

A world to call beautiful. A place to call peace.

A small world of our own.

Whimsical.

Magical.

Fantastical.

In the blink of an eye, we’ll be back at Storybook Land. We’ll ride waterways and be transported to Disney’s worlds just as magically as we have every other time.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our own small space, our own tiny place.

It doesn’t have a name for now.

But it’s ours.

It’s mine.

My tiny world.

A world like no other.

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greensig

Carol Femling - I too love little make believe houses and places etc., so I am excited to see your wonderful birthday gift!! What fun:)July 10, 2014 – 1:01 am

Tom Baunsgard - Amy, that’s a wonderful little “Tiny Place” you have there in your garden. As for the “Storybook Book” ride at Disneyland, I have been to Disneyland over 100 times since I was a kid and have been on that ride maybe 3 times. But, I remember it well!July 9, 2014 – 9:31 pm

Monica Anderson Palmer - I can’t wait to see it ;) absolutely love it!July 9, 2014 – 9:12 pm