Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

If you think back to the first time you started daydreaming of growing up and having a family, then it’s most likely you could have said exactly how many children you wanted. Me? I dreamed of four.

Now, I know plenty of women who have exactly as many children as they had dreamed of growing up. More often than not though, I think we grow up and get slapped by reality a time or two and realize the number we had in our dreams as a child just isn’t realistic for us for one reason or another.

Sometimes, girls who never wanted kids become women managing the calendars of four tiny lives. Sometimes, girls who wanted six kids grow up to find though their heart knows no limits, their bank accounts have significant thresholds. Sometimes, girls who want one boy and one girl grow up to learn their body wasn’t, in fact, created to carry those children and will fight for years to hold just one child in their armsscreaming that they don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl so long as the child is theirs.

I dreamed of four.

When I met my husband I knew very early on he wouldn’t be a four kids kind of guy, so I settled on three. Three, I could get him to consider. As we considered buying a home, or maybe building, and how we would really like a fishing boat, and how we would really like to be able to take some small vacations along the way, I decided two. Two was the answer. Then he or she would still have a sibling, but we would be able to afford the things we wanted to do with our life. We would be able to afford to put our children in the extracurriculars of their choosing without hesitation. Two was good.

Then I had my first child.

I had my first child and a raging battle with postpartum depression.

I think, though, just as we had a number in our minds as little girls of how many children we would have, as adults, there is still a piece of us that feels the need to KNOWfeels a need to have a final answer to the question of how many kids we will have. For me, that internal battle centered around whether I was mentally stable enough to consider bringing another child into the world down the road.

Why did I need to know now? I had years left to decide!

I tried giving myself grace. It was fine not to know. Nobody expected me to have that answer yet and when people began asking if we would have another, as people do, I would simply say, “I don’t know!” I didn’t know. I really didn’t, and I prayed that God would give me peace one way or the other.

What did it mean if I, a woman with a completely healthy and capable reproductive system, chose not to have a second child and chose not to give my first child a sibling because of my mental health? What did it mean if I felt my mental health was robbing me of more children? Did I fight it or make peace with it?

RELATED: God Chose Me To Raise An Only Child

There were days when it seemed silly to even question it, to worry over it. I felt guilt over that tiny internal battle even existing because the child I had already brought into this world was more perfect than anything I could have imagined.

I prayed for God to show me a clear answer and give me peace in whatever that answer was. I prayed for patience if He couldn’t give me an answer yet.

On a hot, Sunday morning this summer, my husband asked for help loading haya task normally handled between him and his grandfather. I was excited at the opportunity to help and knew as his grandpa gets older, more responsibility will fall on me and our son to help with all of the things that keep farmers busy.

My husband and son loaded into the tractor and headed out onto paths created by years of those same tractor tires beating down on the earth. I followed them in the truck, smiling at the image of a tiny head of blonde curls bouncing along in the tractor with his dad.

We took care of what needed to be done, and I went back to the house with our son Andrew while my husband began to work some of the ground behind our house. Andrew looked out the window and saw Daddy was still in the tractor, so I scooped him up and we hurried outside in hopes of Daddy inviting him up for another ride.

Daddy did invite Andrew in, and as I turned to walk away, he hollered for me to jump in, too.

So I did.

The cab of an old tractor isn’t an extremely spacious thing. A man can ride fairly comfortably by himself. When you add his 2-year-old son, they still fit quite nicely. When you add in his full-figured wife, then you’ve got yourself a rather full house but a rather cozy one just the same.

I squeezed up onto the side, my arm around my husband and our son curled up in the crook of his arm. We bounced around the field, my son lulled into a trance by the motion of the tractor combined with an impending nap, and I felt tears prickling the back of my eyes.

In the kind of overwhelming clarity only God can provide, I felt completely and wholly washed over by one ridiculously silly, but for me, life-altering thoughtthere’s no more room in the tractor.

RELATED: Is Having An Only Child Such a Sin?

So what DID it mean if I chose not to have a second child and chose not to give my first child a sibling because of my mental health? It meant that, in our family, the gift of a sibling to my son would carry the ultimate risk of a loss of a stable mother. It meant I decided he needed meall of me, healthy and wholemore than he needed anything else in the world.

We fit together that morning like puzzle pieces, the three of us. We fit tightly and closely and perfectly just as we were. The field behind our house and this life we are building together were made for the three of us to travel together, to experience together, to bump around on together.

There’s simply no more room in the tractor.

Previously published on the author’s blog

RELATED: 7 Things Only Moms of Only Children Know

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Leah Reynolds

Leah Reynolds is a mother of one and the founder of Mending Motherhood. After a battle with postpartum depression, she created Mending Motherhood as a community for mothers who are currently battling or have battled maternal mental illnesses. She lives in central Indiana with her husband, Zach, and 2-year-old son, Andrew.

A Permission Slip for Creativity

In: Living, Motherhood
Create Anyway book in the middle of kids playing with building blocks on floor

The following is an excerpt from Create Anyway by Ashlee Gadd, available today wherever books are sold! In those first few weeks at home with a milk-drunk newborn in my arms, I Googled every little thing, hopping in and out of online parenting forums, desperate for an instruction manual. Is it normal for a baby to poop six times in one day? Does breastfeeding ever get easier? Underneath my nitty-gritty questions loomed the ultimate insecurity every first-time mom battles: Am I doing this whole motherhood thing right? Just a few months prior, I had quit my pencil-skirt-and-high-heels- wearing marketing job...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, It’s Okay If You Hate Me Right Now

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking up at mother

Dear daughter: I’ve heard it from you a thousand times when you don’t get your way. You yell it when your force of will doesn’t bend mine, thinking it will convince me to give in. But I’m here to tell you once and for all: I don’t care if you hate me right now. Last night you hated me because I made you take a bath before bed. This morning, it was because I made you wear pants. I’m the worst mom ever because I told you to eat a vegetable, and the whole day is ruined because I won’t...

Keep Reading

Anxious Moms Need Friends Too

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Women hugging outside

When I was 32, my family and I decided to move out of state. The state I had lived in all my life, where almost all my family and friends lived. Most of my friendships were childhood friends or friends I made in college. I made very few new, adult friendships after college. Maybe I felt I didn’t really need to because there was always a friend I could call. Or maybe, I didn’t want to step outside my comfort zone, face possible rejection, and felt it was just easier not to talk to people (hint: it was definitely the...

Keep Reading

The Isolation of Motherhood

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Mom sitting beside stroller, black and white image

During my early years of having children, I can recall feeling like I needed more help with juggling—taking care of my little ones and our home. Although my mother-in-law was only a 10-minute drive away, she was preoccupied looking after my nephew and nieces. Awkwardly, I would only ask if it was really necessary—like a doctor’s appointment or the dentist. Even at church, it was difficult to ask for help—either we didn’t know certain members well enough to entrust our kids to their care or they were friends with children too and that hardly seemed fair to burden them. The...

Keep Reading

You’re Learning Life by Watching Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child touching mother's face as they lie on a bed

Every morning my daughter and I go outside for some fresh air. She feeds her chickens and plays and explores and walks around with her dog while I follow her around and have a cup of coffee.  This morning, my girl grabbed one of her coffee cups from her toy kitchen and brought it outside with her while she walked with her dog and pretended to take sips out of it.  Guys. I stood there watching her with her toy coffee cup, walking around with her animals, and I cried giant baby tears.  RELATED: I Wasn’t Counting On You Growing...

Keep Reading

What Happens to the Mamas When Their Children Are Grown?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Five children walking hand-in-hand, color photo

A friend came up to me the other day after church and commented, “I’ve never seen you alone. I had to make sure you were okay.” It’s true. I’m never alone. I usually have one or two children hanging onto me and three more milling about with my husband close. But at that moment, my husband had stepped away to collect the younger ones from the children’s service, and my older two had run off with their friends. I was standing alone. And as I stood there, one thought crossed my mind, “This is what it will be like when...

Keep Reading

Please Don’t Ask When I’m Having Another Baby

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant woman standing lakeside, color photo

We’ve all been asked it. Maybe once, maybe more times than we can count. Maybe we’ve even asked it ourselves, “When are you trying for baby #2?” It seems harmless, and most of the time it probably is. Pre-baby me never even stopped to consider that it was anything other than a curious, sometimes nosey, question to ask. The mom version of me today feels a completely different way. It’s now deeper and more complicated than it seemed in the past. The mom in me struggles every single time I’m asked this. Struggles to come up with an answer. Struggles...

Keep Reading

Hello Midnight

In: Motherhood
Mother in child's room at night

Hello again, Midnight. I wish I could say I was happy to see you. My, what a journey we have had together over the years. I must admit I thought we started out as friends, but as we meet these days, I sense an unkindness about you. Our journey began when I was somewhere around 12. Sure, I had met you in passing on occasion in years prior, but it wasn’t until now that I sought out your companionship. Some middle school girlfriends and I stayed up late, feeling rebellious against bedtime. We were fascinated by the way the world...

Keep Reading

3 Ways to Help Your Firstborn Embrace Becoming a Big Brother

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Pregnant woman holding toddler son, color photo

My oldest son turned four right after his first brother was born. Four years of alone time with his parents. Four years of extra mommy time during the week. Four years of having toys to himself, extra attention from family members, and more. I didn’t plan a four-year age gap; it took our family a lot longer and a lot more help than we expected to have our second son, but age gaps aren’t everything. When my second son was finally on the way, I heard a lot of opinions about how our oldest son would feel once he finally...

Keep Reading

I Am a Wrestling Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three young boys with wrestling medals, color photo

As the sun is rising on a frigid winter morning, a brave and determined group of athletes are weighing in at a high school gym. They are physically and mentally preparing for a long day spent at a tournament where they will spend only minutes wrestling, despite the hours they sit and wait all day. Their sport uses offense, defense, and mental strength unlike any other sport. My sons and nephew are wrestlers. They are part of a special team of athletes who work together but compete as individuals.           Their youth team is run by all volunteer coaches with...

Keep Reading