Family Love, A Study in Mathematics

People keep asking me if we are going to have more children.  The question ranks up there–probably around number 4–on the list of my daily-smalltalk-with-a-pregnant-woman chart.  {(1)”How much longer?”( 2) “How are you feeling?”  (3)”Are you so ready to have that baby…?” topping the chart…}  The top three questions are easy to answer.  {(1)”I have six weeks left.  (2)”I feel pretty good, except for being really tired mid-day and all those weird little things that start happening to your body in the last trimester”, and (3) “In some ways, yes, I am really ready.  In other ways, I am appreciating a dependable schedule and the time I have with my three children.  Our life is about to change in ways I can not predict.  I am looking forward to seeing our new baby boy, to being on the other side of labor and birth, and cannot wait to sleep in any position I want.”}

But the fourth question: “Are you going to have more children?”

This is in a completely different category.

I have had 34 weeks to come up with an answer to this question.  But I haven’t managed it yet.

I just don’t know.

When I look back over the last five years of my life, it is such a mystery that we really didn’t “plan” to have any of these children.  I never had a burning desire to be a mother.  I never felt a desperate need to have another baby.  We have just been living our lives.  But they are here, in our family now.  Their lives are an imprint in the history of the world–changing it in unfathomable ways.  The effect of their existence in the lives of others is impossible to calculate.  And their lives do not only affect this world, where people are born and breathe and live and move and interact and touch the lives of others.  But they change the course of forever.

A friend of mine said it like this, “They are eternal souls.”

It’s true.

I cannot imagine my life without any of my children.  And I can’t imagine their lives without one another.

I remember when we were expecting Paloma, our second daughter.  I was talking to a dear friend who had four grown children.  I was telling her it didn’t seem possible to love another child as much as I love Rosie.  She told me that it was one of the mysteries of having children.  You don’t think you could love any more, but somehow your heart just grows and divides and you are able to love another child as much as the first.

She was right.  And I have noticed that family love is even more exponential than that.  Not only does your heart grow and divide, love multiplies.  I didn’t think I could love Rosie any more than I already did–until I saw her love her little sister.  It opened up a whole new dimension of love that I had never considered before.  I love to watch Kells, my 20-month old little boy, dance around the living room.  It makes me so happy.  But even more than that, I love to see his sisters laughing and dancing along with him, finding as much joy in his adorable little ways as I do.

I loved Randy before we had children.  I really think I have loved Randy as much as I have known how since early on in our relationship.  But I was not prepared for the love I would have for him when he became a Daddy.  The light in his eyes for his children is a new light–something I had not seen before.  Rosie brings out his wild energy, his spontaneity, and his unrestrained goofiness…  Paloma brings out his tenderness, his warmth, strength, and ability to comfort.  Kells brings out his manliness, his boyishness, his pride and joy.  All of them make him laugh and do unexpected, wonderful things.  He is a great Daddy.  The more children we have, the more I know him.  And the more I know him, the more I love him.

It is wonderful to imagine this new little life that will be here in a few short weeks.  How our love will change.  How it will grow…

Having children is joy.  It is hard.  Definitely hard.  Definitely full of sleepless nights, full of soul-wrenching questions, full of drama and chaos…  Putting your own desires aside is part of it–and it can seem like you will never get back around to what you were trying to accomplish in life.  And maybe you won’t.  (But you have accomplished something else.)  It is hard to be tied to little ones–it is a season that can seem to have no end.  Going places is more complicated.  Life is loud and crazy most of the time.  The house is always a mess.  It is so easy to worry about life.  Everything bad in the world seems infinitely worse when you think of it in the light of your own children–accidents, evil, crime, etc.  But everything good in this world is infinitely better when you experience it with them–falling leaves, first snow, good books, hot chocolate, long walks, picnics, ladybugs…  The world is so full of wonder.

I don’t deny that there are times I envy the cup of coffee over a quiet book that a friend of mine is having while her children are neatly tucked away at school…

While I am living in the midst of our chaos–exhausted from meeting needs all day long, one after the other, marking an insignificant amount of checks off a nightmarishly-long-to-do list…

But I would never change it.  I would never take anything for these children.  No ambition I have ever had in my life is equal to the magnitude of raising them.  They are the greatest gifts I have ever been given.

So are we planning on having more?

I don’t know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXNs4Mj_SaQ

Song for Kells

The womb becomes a world
You are the sole inhabiter
The soul begins to grow
My heart divides and multiplies

It’s a mystery beyond anything
I ever studied in school
It breaks every mathematical rule

Two become one
One becomes three
Three becomes a family
Where love grows exponentially
Three becomes more
A family of four
And we have all been waiting for
Beautiful you

You came into my world
I was not looking for your face
You’re knit with my own thread
By God inside the secret place

It’s a mystery beyond anything
I ever learned by heart
In all my studies of the visual arts
Two little threads
One Weaver’s hand
I will never understand
How God can take the stitch of man
In places so small
He gathers them all
And weaves a living tapestry
Living now inside of me
Beautiful you

UPDATE Dec. 2, 2013: This song (in a much fancier version!) is available for purchase on our new album, Home, which we have been recording from our living room over the past 3 years while raising our children and making ends meet.

Home for webHome is our love story, written over the course of 14 years.  You can purchase it or listen on our website:  www.thejosephineknot.com

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Becky McGarvey says:

    What a treat as I am at work today and it has been a little dull 🙂 Love you!

    Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 15:46:27 +0000 To: beckymcgarvey@hotmail.com

    1. Thank you, Jenia. Love you guys. Thinking of you often. Thank you for the message you sent me. I will reply soon! : )

  2. melt62 says:

    Mack, as always, I am in awe of our wisdom and your ability to share it so beautifully through written word. This. is. BEAUTIFUL!!! I love you!

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I love you so much.

  3. melt62 says:

    *our = your 🙂

  4. Mem says:

    Totally read this thinking “I’m not goona cry”………my eyes are glistening and my cheek is damp…. 🙂

    1. Love you, Mem. Thanks for following these posts–glad I can provide you with some (probably-much-needed…) emotional catharsis! : ) Miss you!

  5. Beautiful. We have 11…. My stockpile of answers (all delivered with that “Southern-pasted on smile”) were: “If God gives me another” “We will stop when we get one that isn’t wonderful!” “Are you?” “What a amazingly personal question to ask someone!” “Only if we are incredibly lucky!” Blessings to you and your family. The years fly by. Our oldest is now 32 and youngest 15. How I miss those crazy, so exhausting, never enough time years. (and to, “Boy! You’ve got your hands full!” I always said, “Full of love and full of fun!”).

    1. Wow, 11 is amazing! I am so in awe of mothers who are truly totally surrendered to having children as they come… It is so beautiful. I am the youngest of nine, and you sound a lot like my own mother, who loved (and still loves) us completely. She so loved being a mother of a large family. We were always really happy, and our parents made our life fun. Thanks for stopping by to read and reply to this message. God bless you and your family.

  6. Jennifer Rice says:

    Love you guys! What an amazing,creatively talented and beautiful family….you are Blessed! Love, Jenn

  7. Monica says:

    Mackenzie. I loved reading this. My goodness how God has blessed you with talent to be able to write so insightfully and beautifully! I love you and am so proud of you! I love your sweet sweet family and your music! Again, I will say that I believe this world needs to hear your music! Love you:)

    1. Thank you, Monica. I love you so much. Thank you for your constant encouragement and support. So glad I was born into your family. Love you.

  8. Adrienne says:

    As I read this, I kept picturing the way you looked as we sat around Beth’s table last Saturday – particularly, the look on your face when you described feeling “so gloriously pregnant”: your facial expression was one of perfect grace, your physical posture one of simultaneous poise and surrender. It was as if you were being held (and of course, you are) in the very palm of God’s hand, and knew it, and had surrendered entirely (which of course, you have) to His will. There was this subtle, reflective, “I-don’t-know-what’s-coming-next” smile on your face that was honest in its vulnerability, yet so deeply reverant and trusting. As you described your question -*this* question- to us that day, I marveled at the utter lack of pettiness, vanity, or self-centered-ness in your question. It was clear your burden was a spiritual struggle, to understand God’s will for you as a vessel for life, and that alone. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such profound grace in a person struggling so genuinely with such a weighty question while immersed already in such an extraordinary web of demands. The beauty I see when I look at you is the silvery light of your soul shining out from every pore, lacing all of you with a glow I can’t put words to – it is deeply feminine, almost blinding in its perfection, yet lacking in all self-consciousness or vanity. It is a glow, and a beauty, that outshines most everything else I’ve known. When I see you glow like this, I know God’s got you right where He wants you. When I read this post, I smiled, because this post is you *living* the question. The perfect prayer. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for your profound example.

    1. Adrienne, I don’t even know how to respond to this. Thank you for taking the time to really see me and love me as a dear friend. I feel like you understand me in a way that I could only hope someone in this world would… I always come away from time spent with you (in person or through messages/packages/etc.) feeling so grateful that our paths have crossed in such a profound way. You are a constant inspiration to me. I love you so much. Thank you for this message.

      1. Adrienne says:

        <3 I am moved by reading this again – your post, our exchange in response to it – moved by the simplicity and diamond-like sincerity of your motivation regarding how you approach parenthood, and how you surrender so fully to it. It is an inspiration more profound than I can comprehend – like these vast New Mexico sunsets. Thank you for sharing your inner and outer experience, for giving us the gift to reflect and learn from your own questions, struggles, miracles, and lessons. I love you, Mack.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this post!