Where Logic Meets Love

Maternal Instinct

Friday, December 10, 2010

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Maternal Instinct | Faith Permeating Life
When Mike and I were dating in college, we started talking about getting married: When we would want to get married, how long we'd want to be engaged for, etc. At some point I explained to him that, in my mind, there were two timelines at play here.

The first was the timeline of our relationship. We seemed to be at or at least near to the point where we'd been dating long enough and our relationship was mature enough that it made sense to get engaged.

The second timeline, though, was that of my life -- or, I guess, in this case, each of us had our own life timeline. And when I thought about myself -- Jessica, college junior, 21 years old -- I didn't feel ready to be engaged. I didn't feel that I was mature enough to think about myself as a woman engaged to be married.

I should back up and explain something. I once heard the Holy Spirit described as the love between the Father and the Son, and Mike and I have modeled our understanding of our relationship after this; that is, our relationship is a third entity separate from either of our lives. So, for example, we chose to be abstinent until marriage because even though both of us individually might have desired sex, we felt it wasn't the best thing for the life of our relationship.

Sometimes people ask me whether I feel I got married too young, or whether it was a good point in my life, or whatever. I always tell them that I felt it worked for three reasons:
  • One, Mike and I were both mature enough to be ready for marriage.
  • Two, we had been together almost five years at that point and were at a good point in our relationship to make that commitment.
  • Three, we were both at good points in our life timelines -- he was in grad school, I had just finished grad school and started a new job -- that it was a good time to get married.

The next expected "phase of life" now is having children. Many people have told me (usually pregnant friends) that "There's never a 'right' time to have a child." But looking back at how we were engaged and married at good points in our lives and our relationship, I'm not entirely sure that's true.

As recently as six months ago, I honestly loathed the thought of having a baby. The only reason I knew I wanted children is because I could imagine myself at 30, and I didn't want to reach 30 and have it still just be the two of us. I can imagine myself in a house full of kids who are older, playing board games, doing chores together, watching movies, building forts, playing in the yard. But Jessica, 24 years old, was not remotely ready to be a mother.

God has been shifting things around in my heart lately -- and confronting me with lots of adorable babies -- and Jessica, 25 years old, is a little more comfortable with the idea of being a mother. It doesn't seem so far-fetched to me anymore. And this gives me hope that when we reach the time we do actually plan to have a child, I will be not only on board, but -- as it turned out with the engagement -- a little impatient.

At the same time, I don't think our marriage is ready for a child yet. We want to adopt first, and there's a reason some adoption agencies require you to be married at least three years. We're still building the foundation of our family. We're constantly working on our communication, even after six years together. We will spend 15 seconds fighting and then 10 minutes dissecting the argument to pin down the point at which the miscommunication occurred. (If this sounds overly rational to you, know that it's usually a matter of, "No, you said this!") I fully expect we'll spend the rest of our life together improving our relationship and our communication, but I also know that having children is going to throw such a wrench in how we do things that the more positive patterns and habits we can establish now, the better.

Having finished reading The Happiness Project (the book) today, I want to spend the next year working on getting my happiness commandments and resolutions entrenched in my brain. I need better heuristics to live by before bringing anyone else into our family! I'm feeling good that working on my heart and mind now is going to prepare me for having kids down the road.


  1. It's great to read that you felt like I do. Chores and board games are scarier to me than an infant sleeping on my shoulder, but every one's a little different (thank God!) Cheers!

  2. @Karen Boyd
    Thanks! It's always nice not to feel alone on things like this. And thank you for your e-mail--I'll talk about that in a future post, maybe tomorrow.


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