Please welcome writer and mother Stephanie Reeves, who shares her own journey of motherhood, loss, and redemption in this week’s Faith Notes:
“What Makes Me a Woman”
I remember with vivid clarity the day we learned I had miscarried our first child. After four years of infertility, the thought of losing this long-awaited baby was terrifying. When the loss was confirmed, it seemed my tears would never stop.
That was two decades ago. I now have three healthy children, ages 14, 18 and 20. Although we lost two more babies in the midst, I feel very blessed. I was nearly 35 when I had my first child and almost 41 when I had my third. Yet when I realized that I was on the downside of menopause, I cried.
I loved being pregnant. I didn’t suffer the nausea of so many of my friends. Although worried during my second pregnancy that the same thing would happen as during my first, it got increasingly easier to relax.
But as I went through menopause, the idea that I would never have another baby stirred up feelings I didn’t even know were there. Somehow we think childbearing defines us as women, and when we find ourselves unable to do that, our self-image takes a hit.
Now, three years later, I am mostly at peace. But the baby boom in the young moms around me causes some melancholy. My friends from high school and college are becoming grandparents, and my arms long to cuddle newborns again. I plead for time holding the young mom’s infants, but somehow someone consistently beats me to it.
I know that there are many who cannot bear their own babies. Some opt to remain childless. Some adopt infants. Some adopt older kids. I have friends in all camps. When I didn’t know whether I’d be able to have children, each new birth around me was painful. Now, each birth is a joy as I know that it’s my time to be a mentor, to let the younger women have their chance. I’m certainly glad to be able to sleep through the night!
There is a time for every purpose under heaven. As King Solomon of old tells us, “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end,” Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.
My time of bearing children has come and gone, but the task of raising, nurturing and mentoring continues. God has given me a special gift to spend time with several young women. And I still have a teen daughter at home. Life still flows through me to these other people.
Bearing babies isn’t what makes me a woman. It isn’t what gives me worth. It isn’t even what defines me. I am a mom, and it’s a wonderful thing. But I am first of all a child of God.
Now excuse me while I go find a baby to hold!
Stephanie Reeves has been a writer and copy editor for more than 30 years. Though a native Californian, she now lives in Orlando, Fla., with her husband, three kids and multiple pets. Connect at www.stephreeves.wordpress.com