“I want to steal her,” I jokingly commented. As an occupational therapist for a home healthcare agency, my job was to conduct an evaluation for an elderly woman who had just returned home from the hospital. But I found myself more interested in the granddaughter, who was watching a Disney cartoon show and then was playing hide-and-go-seek.
She captured my attention, this little girl. She kept talking to us, and I found myself wishing that I was the one watching cartoons and playing hide-and-go-seek with her rather than doing an evaluation on her grandmother. I felt a tug on my heart, and it made me want to have children of my own.
“Why aren’t you married?” the girl’s grandfather asked me. He went on to state that he has a couple of grandsons, implying that perhaps I could have one of them. (He added, however, that the one closest to my age was in a serious relationship.)
The desire for children is natural and good. And I have to admit that sometimes it’s tempting for me to just date anyone with the hopes of getting married and having children of my own, especially since I also have a desire for a spouse. Sometimes I get lonely, like when friends of mine start dating each other and get engaged or when seeing friends with their adorable children. In moments like these, it’s tempting to believe that if I had children, my life would have meaning and any loneliness would stop.
And yet, I wait. Why? I can think of three important reasons.
1. I don’t want to just “hook up” with any man.
I hope that someday I will be married to a man who loves children, who loves me, and who shares my love for God. A man who would be present in my life and in the life of our children, who would be a good role model to them, and who, by his presence and love, would help me to be a better wife and mother and be more devoted to God.
2. I want to be married before I have children.
Why? I need that married committed relationship, that security, for my sake and for the sake of any future children. I deserve someone who would stick by me in good times and in bad, who would remain loyal to me and support me when I may feel or look my worst, who would continue to serve and make sacrifices out of love for me and our children. I deserve a man who extends a helping hand when I’m pregnant and experiencing the joys of morning sickness. I desire to have someone to share in the joys and struggles of this journey together, to pray together, and yes, even to play together.
3. Waiting for the right man to have a family with is an opportunity for growth; it’s not a waste of time.
I hope to someday be a mother, but I am not going to sit around waiting for life to have meaning until then. Life has meaning now, I can live out my motherly nature now by increasing my capacity to give and receive love. In the interactions I have while working, through service, and in my relationships with family and friends and others who cross my path, I am to be a “mother.” I am to bring a mother’s heart and a female touch by writing an uplifting and affirming message to a friend and dropping it off at her house, by welcoming a friend over to my apartment, sitting and listening to the struggles of her heart, giving her a hug, or even sharing in the consolation of yummy treats together.
While waiting for the right man, I can grow in my ability to nurture and care for others, and to uplift others through words and actions, however small. I can truly listen to others, be present to them, and keep them in my prayers. By learning to let my heart receive love, through prayer and the people in my life, I’m preparing to maybe one day also receive love from my spouse and welcome children into our family.
Waiting is also an opportunity to grow in understanding and to pray for others who desire children: for a friend of mine who has been married for years but has not yet been able to have children, for those friends of mine and others who have suffered the loss of children, and for those who, like me, are still waiting for their future spouse and for the desires of their hearts to be fulfilled.
Waiting can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be time wasted. Like any challenge in life, it can be a gift. It depends on how we receive it. As long as I don’t actually steal any babies, this time of waiting can be used as a time of preparation to be the best wife and mother I can be.