Mind the gap

The first thing new friends notice about our children is the number. The second is the gap.

Things start out as you’d expect for a family of this size– stair steps. I still remember the awe I felt as I hung up small jackets (pink, blue, blue) in only slightly staggered sizes, and the utter cuteness of lining my babies up for the tell-tale graduated height photo. I also remember the exhaustion of giving birth for the third time in just under four years, and the frustration of three little ones unable to buckle their own car seat straps.


I also remember the moment I put my foot down. No more babies. That’s it. I’m done. I’m tired. We have three. It’s enough. No one with half an ounce of sense can afford more than three kids–physically, emotionally, or financially.

My husband wavered, but acquiesced. When Jack was six weeks old, we made things permanent.

My relief was total. The baby years are finally over, I sighed.

And, but for the grace of God, they would have been.

That gap you see–that empty space between Jack (11) and Phineas (7)– tells a story. Those four and a half years represent some of the deepest, most personal, and most painful work God has done in me as a Christian.

I thought I would spend that time breaking free from the bonds that held me back from who I wanted to be. I would be done with diapers and nursing. I would enjoy more freedom. I would discover the flexibility of having children in school all day. I might even find a way to earn some money.

I would definitely be less tied to my home, my children, and the incessant, ever-present needs of so many people.

Instead, I spent that time looking at my life, finding my purpose, and begging (yes, begging) God to bless us again.

Clearly, He answered. Phineas came to us at 14 months old, and the drought came to an end. Dramatically, some might say–in the six years since he joined our family we have added five children through a flood of God’s amazing grace. Phineas, through adoption. John Mark, through the same gift. Babita, through love. And Birdie and Simon through the sort of everyday miracle that we call biology.


My heart has changed. That much is obvious. Much to the horror of many, I can say without flinching that if I found out tomorrow that another baby was on the way or another child somewhere in the world was meant to be my son or daughter, I would rejoice. I ran out of the kind of sense that puts caps on family size long ago, in those lean years of looking at my blessings and wondering what I had declined in my headlong rush towards a freedom I found out I didn’t want.

Is my life perfect? Is raising a large family one beautiful, soft-focus moment after the next? Have I somehow been given a pass from exhaustion, frustration, or bad days?

Far from it. But I do have a gift in knowing that that one thing that should seem so appealing in my worst moments is really not the answer I’m seeking. “They’ll grow up eventually” isn’t a balm when your soul has ached under the weight of “this is slipping away too quickly.” I take no comfort in the idea of the cloth diapers being folded away for the last time, or the last sixth grader fixing me with that tell-tale, pre-teen gaze. I have the gap to remind me of what will come. I have a small, slim empty season to look back on and remember that this, in all its pressure and chaos and beauty, is fleeting. And some day, the long freedom will begin in earnest, and the Lord will usher me into something entirely new and no doubt as fruitful.

But for now, I am here. Straddle parenting across the gap that has shaped my heart … and feeling grateful for it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Shared at:
The Modest Mom
Mom’s the Word
A Mama’s Story
The Wellspring
Mommy Moments
What Joy is Mine
Titus 2sday
Growing Homemakers Linkup
Titus 2 Tuesday
Teaching What is Good
We Art THAT Family
Raising Arrows
Serving Joyfully
Graced Simplicity
Thoughtful Thursday
Raising Homemakers
Wise Woman Link Up


6 thoughts on “Mind the gap

  1. Thank you for sharing! Mine is a miracle story as well. I wasn’t too crazy about kids till I had them. However, it was a rough start for me. Understatement of the year. Never thought I’d go on to have 7.


  2. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I have two babies, 20 months and 8 months old. They are exactly a year apart. We began our marriage desiring to let the Lord plan our family. I honestly figured we’d have a dozen and I was excited about that! But things happened so quickly and now, I’m tired. Just the idea of a 3rd sounds overwhelming, let alone a 4th. For the first time in my Christian life I have considered permanent birth control. And that scares me, because I KNOW I’d regret it. It’s hard to keep the faith when it feels like the Little Years will last forever. But stories like this encourage and inspire me. So thank you so much. Blessings!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! We have two little boys and are in the waiting stages of adopting our third; I believe we are being led to have a larger than “average” family but there are definitely days I share the thoughts you expressed in the beginning – having a little more freedom, etc. (although we plan to homeschool, so I suppose it will still be a while); however, when I bring these concerns before the Lord I certainly feel a clearer vision of what really serves great purpose and offers the greatest love and reward. I love that you are reminded of that daily by “the gap” and it was really nice to read your heart and perspective. Thanks for linking up at Growing Home!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your heart in this. I have a friend with four children and thought that she was done, but just feels this stirring in her heart that just possibly they’re not done, and she has more excitement than fear, surprisingly. I felt recently led to think more strongly about adoption than I ever have and grow our family in that way in the future… I always find that God is not shy to throw us some curveballs in life. :) Found you through Titus 2; glad I did! ~Sarah

  5. Thank you for sharing. As I am a c-section deliverer, my doctor has told me that this, our 4th, will probably be my last. My husband is ever-so-practical and is taking it in stride, though I don’t think another one would ruffle his feathers at all. Me? I’ve spent countless hours pleading with God to bring me more babies, either through biology or adoption. As much as the day-to-day work of caring for little ones wears me down, I don’t think I’m ready to say I’m done.

    • I know this feeling so, so well. My third pregnancy left me absolutely drained, and the doctor assuring me that more wasn’t “safe” had a big impact on my desire to be done. Praying that God opens the doors give you the desires of your heart, or ushers you into a place of peace as you rest in His wisdom and the blessings already around you.

Comments are closed.