Four was our magic number. Before my husband and I got married, we’d both agreed we wanted four children, and since gender couldn’t be planned, we didn’t care what kind we’d have. For the first two years of our marriage, I was busy preparing for the bar exam so we’d held off on kids until I passed. Well, I flunked the bar so the waiting period stretched out longer. After I took my second bar exam, we’d both gotten tired of waiting and decided that no matter what the results were, we were ready to have our baby. Two weeks after that decision, I was pregnant. A month later, I became a lawyer. That incident taught me that when I let go of my plans and trust God’s timing, He blesses my plans.
Soon after that, a friend told me that she and her husband were allowing God to determine the size of her family. My eyebrows rocketed up when she said that.
“Let WHO plan YOUR family?” my mind screeched.
During the rude and pregnant pause, she explained that she believed God takes care of the child-spacing arrangements, provides for each soul He gives to a couple and would give graces and patience that she needed to care for her family.
Her faith and trust shamed me and put my arrogant eyebrows in their place. Here I was planning my children around my ambition, my desire for luxury and my convenience, not even bothering to give God the freedom to plan my family. After consulting a holy priest on the Church teachings of family planning and fully understanding Pope John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’, my husband I began to open our hearts to receive as many blessings as God wanted to give us.
Our second daughter was born twenty months later. Our third child was conceived eighteen months later at a time most people would dub as inconvenient timing since we were moving to another state, building a house and my husband was unemployed. Easter Sunday was a day of mourning since we found out the baby was born in heaven. We held our fourth child/third daughter’s soft hands and heard her baby’s cry when she was born to us a year later — on Easter Sunday. How’s that for heavenly coincidence and consolation?
With great grief, our fifth child, who was to cap our well-crafted plans, was born in heaven recently. I was rushed to the hospital on Ash Wednesday, facing the possibility that I could lose my life. It was a painful ordeal to be honest (made more bearable only by loving and prayerful friends and family) and given the choice, I would not want to go through that again.
Without being a mind reader, I can almost hear the big question posed in many well-meaning (and nosy) minds: Would I still let God plan my family size?
Every mother is called to be a mother of saints and now, after only 8 years of marriage, I’ve been blessed with at least two. I am assured that the rest of our family, who are working out our salvation and sanctification on earth, will benefit immensely from their intercessions.
Though I don’t see why God saw it fit to have this baby up in heaven yet, I do not question His right and His wisdom to give and take away life. I trust His plan far more than my own and I accept His loving will, which encompasses my past, present and future.
In everything, I give thanks to the Lord. If there is one thing I know, it is that God is good and He loves me enough to decide what will lead my entire family and I to heaven. After all, even if some of us have to get there ahead of others, ahead of my plans, it only serves to remind us that’s where every family’s home is.
Okay, you can bring your eyebrows down, now. Oh and don’t ever ask a woman with a large family if she is ‘done’ unless you’re prepared for a life-changing lecture.