The Resurrection of Jesus
Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
Mary Had One Child
by Cait Winters
“But I want one!,” my son wailed through a mouthful of the brownies we made after dinner.
“You already have one!” I said, trying my best to calm him before the Heimlich Maneuver became a necessity.
My littlest kids are two years apart and two peas in a pod. They share a lot: a bedroom, toys, even birthday parties since the dates fall so close, but the rest of the time, they need two of everything!
Two cups of milk, two bowls of macaroni, split the orange down the middle!
They helped with the brownies and were anxious to have them. By the time they had cooled, they were more than ready to indulge.
I hastily cut and dished out the brownies, trying my best to make the portions even. When I set the plates in front of them, I realized that I put a piece of my daughter’s still-warm-and-crumbly brownie onto my son’s plate. By the time I realized what had happened, he had already accepted the heaping portion as his own!
I moved it back to her plate while he cried through a mouthful, “I WANT A BROWNIEEEE!!!”
While dishing out to both more than they expected to settle the issue and make up for my mistake, (boy, were they happy!) I couldn’t help but laugh at the familiarity of my son crying for what he already had.
“Is this how you see me, Lord?” I prayed, as I laughed and my soul smiled.
My kids are four and six and we have a lot of the baby stuff behind us now. No more nursing, no more diapers, but more conversation, activity, and independence. My kids are healthy and growing just as they should be! But my mama heart still aches at the bittersweet knowledge of them not only growing up, but away from me.
I’m in my mid-thirties, so family planning is still on my mind. It can be a sensitive issue for any family, regardless of the situation.
Sometimes, as my son became a toddler, I felt the pull in my heart for our family to grow. Every child is a huge life-changing responsibility of course, but we love one another, we have so much fun together. Who wouldn’t want more of a good thing?
We talked about it for a season, but life had other plans.
A pandemic happened, the necessities became increasingly expensive, and the plans we had to house hunt came to a screeching halt. My kids began to demand less of me physically but much more emotionally, especially my oldest who was in and out of treatment for mental health. Wrapped up in the full life we already had, we talked about it less and less, until eventually we just stopped planning.
When I finally expressed my longing to my husband, he was surprised. He said he understood how I felt and would lovingly welcome any children that may come, but he was content! My feelings were so mixed up but, he put his own so simply: “I already have everything I want.”
These are the real things that come up in a marriage. This is why communication and compromise are so important. I could have saved myself a lot of hurt from wondering how he felt if I had just shared with him the desires of my heart. He could have expressed to me his point of view, his sweet and holy contentment that has taught me so much and reminded me to live the present moment with as much gratitude and love as I can.
He said he knows that I’m a great mom who feels I have more love to give. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I have to have a baby. I have had rough pregnancies with anemia and hyperemesis throughout so we have talked about adoption in the past. We are always open to life, of course, so it’s always a possibility that God will bless us with a baby at any time, but it isn’t in our plans right now and that’s okay.
Even though it’s hard to shift out of the baby gear for the first time in years, it’s exciting too! The truth is all babies grow up and motherhood is not the only place God wants to use my talents.
I was just eighteen when I had my oldest child, and now, at the age of 34, while my friends are experiencing family life for the first time, I have already been a mother for half of my life!
Maybe this chapter is for me to do some of those things I may have put on hold while raising kids was my sole focus, and I am! I’ve gone full into my ministry, growing the community, and establishing it as a non-profit. My husband and I have more time for each other and we’re more in love than ever. My oldest is doing so much better and participating in life with friends and family again. I even started homeschooling my little ones, a dream come true!
I’m far from perfect but I try my best to follow God’s will for my life. I realize that if God wanted me to have another baby right now, I’d be pregnant! And I have come to a place of peace with that. It’s not wrong for my husband to be content and it’s not wrong for me to want more children to love.
In a culture of faith that lauds large families as a mark of holiness, it can sting to face the questions about wanting more. But as God reminded me in prayer, “Mary only had one Child.”
It’s true, Jesus was an only Son. Just three hearts beat in the holiest of families, yet they were more pleasing to God than any because of the faith, hope, and love therein. So, while some judge smaller Catholic families and praise those blessed with a descending row of precious children, I know God has a unique vision for each and every one. Mary proved there is more than one way to mother by becoming the spiritual mother to all of God’s children. If she can take her mothering beyond the physical, beyond her own household, so can we.
No one talks about it, but avoiding pregnancy for just reasons can be a cross. It’s not always a relief or a joy to delay pregnancy. It’s not always what we want, but bringing an eternal being into the world takes discernment and prayer with the best interest of the child at the forefront of it all. It’s even harder when opinions on the subject are so polarizing and can lead to uncharitable assumptions. We get so busy with the details of practicing our faith that we forget to show compassion to our sisters and brothers in Christ. In the end, it’s between a husband, a wife, and God.
I was wrestling with all of this in my heart for weeks. I didn’t ask God to take the desire for children from me but only the sadness of not having what I envision at the moment. Whether we have more children or never do, we have been immensely blessed. God is good either way and we will praise Him.
The image of my son crying for a brownie was a glimpse into how God must have seen me that day. Crying for more of something I already have!
I am His child and He is my Father. He knows what’s best for me. He knows the portion that is healthy and manageable and I trust Him with our family and our life. He’s a good Father and He’s already dished out more grace, love, and blessing than I ever deserved or ever expected. My gratitude for what I have far outweighs any longing that remains.
I don’t know what the future holds, but what I do know is God uses these desires to do his work. I have faith that He gives us exactly what we need to be holy, just not always in the way we imagine.
Knowing that is enough.
About Cait: Cait Winters is the founder of Motherhood Through the Mysteries, the host of the Motherhood Through the Mysteries Podcast as well as a writer, blogger and aspiring author. She is a wife and mother of three children (from little to teen!) living the small-town life in Massachusetts and finding God in the midst of everyday moments. Her writing covers all things motherhood, womanhood and faith through relatable and inspiring short stories filled with humor and heart.