the one about how I don't need more children

No. More. Kids.

This is the message I received loud and clear this morning.

Done.

Stop.

Enough.

Who told me to stop having kids?

Well, my own self-doubt. My own self-pity. And probably my own children, under their breaths.

It was just another epic morning at our house. My husband had to leave early for work, so I was responsible for dropping my Kindergartner off at school and then taking my younger two to preschool with me. Typically, Luke takes my daughter to school, so this was an added responsibility this morning.

Our dining room was a sea of Cheerios on the floor, a gathering of ants around a piece of dinner from last night, random winter gear that had been dragged out from its drawer in the coat closet, and a stack of school papers that still needed to be sorted, signed, or tossed.

My oldest needed her hair braided.

My youngest needed more breakfast.

My middle needed pants.

I was barely dressed, teeth narrowly brushed, and, although I desperately needed it, I didn't have time for concealer under my eyes.

I could have used a shower, but that whole process would eat up an hour of time we didn't have, so the trusty ponytail would have to do. Again.

After a parade of constant mess, constant noise, and constant questions as I was trying to put the finishing touches on the gourmet lunches I was preparing (HA), I lost my cool. Like I do.

Where is your sight word book? Do you have your lunch box? Help your sister get her shoes on! Please, please, please... go get in the car!

It hit me in that moment that this family needs no more children.

You can barely care for the ones you have.

Only patient, calm mothers deserve lots of children.

You should get a dog instead. 

I shook these thoughts just long enough to pull it together and get everyone to school. I have a strict, "No one goes to school angry" policy, because after events like Sandy Hook and other true horror stories, I refuse to let my children leave me for the day with "Hurry up! We're late!" playing through their minds.

So, as I opened the van door to let Noelle out, I held her face in my hand, slightly squeezed her freckly cheeks, and kissed over and over again, right in front of the man who helps escort the kids to the door each day. I told her I loved her. And to have a great day. And that I loved her.

As I pulled around to exit the parking lot and enter the Starbucks line 22 seconds later, I told myself again that I did not need any additional children.

Does coffee make things better?

Are you actually going to try harder to have patience?

Say you're sorry all you want, but you can't un-ring the bell.

That nagging voice of negatives tore away at me for a few more minutes while I listened to the news on the radio.

Another murder.

Another kidnapping.

Another burglary.

Another presidential candidate threatening this and promising that.

And then it came to me.

I may think I don't need more children, but this world needs more children.

There are bad guys (and girls) out there. We are inundated with news of the horrible happenings in cities across the globe. We feel fear. We feel anger. We feel sadness.

But when I look into the eyes of my girls, I feel hopeful.

Sure, sometimes I say, with a tone of dread in my voice, "I wonder what the world will be like when our kids are grown up." But there's something about the way they smile, or laugh, or get excited over the littlest things, or passionately sing a song they love, or pray about what is worrying them, and I realize that these girls have an amazing future ahead of them, and I can't wait to see who they become.

I see a cardboard box, and they see an airplane.


I see a blizzard, and they see Elsa.


I see a "no way," and they see an "I'm gonna."


They see the good in everyone and everything.

And coming from teaching children of all ages for nearly 10 years now, I can tell you that most kids are like this.

When does it change? When do sweet, innocent children turn into murderers or burglars or kidnappers or abusers or users?

I don't know exactly, but I think it starts when they lose hope. When they lose their smile. When they lose excitement. When they lose passion. When they lose faith.

And while I can't guarantee the type of adults my children will become, I can promise that I will not go one day of my life without helping my children deepen their hope...share their smiles...spread their excitement...fuel their passion...keep the faith.



That, I guess, is all any of us can do for the children we have...the children we hope to have...the children we teach...the children we care for...the children we see playing down the street.

Deepen their hope.
Share their smiles.
Spread their excitement.
Fuel their passion.
Keep the faith.

(and freak out less in the mornings)



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