Three and a half years ago, I had just gotten back from a dance festival. My love for dance was rekindled (not that it had ever really gone out) and I decided to get back on track pursuing it as a career. I had a 2 1/2 year old self-sufficient daughter and a supportive husband, so the world was waiting for me.
At that point, I had spent the last 8 months desperately wanting to have another baby. When it didn’t pan out I decided maybe it wasn’t in the cards for me. I did have one fantastic child, and now I could have the best of both worlds; I could be a mother AND a professional dancer. I spent hours daily looking into auditions for all kinds of things, modern dance companies, ballet companies, reality shows (and I did actually attend the So You Think You Can Dance audition). One day I decided that if I really wanted to pursue dance professionally, I had to really dive back into training. I hadn’t been taking classes or performing regularly for 4 years. I enrolled in college as a part-time student at my alma mater, which was an hour drive both ways. I would drive 3 times a week, drop my daughter off at day care, and be in class for 3 hours. I was in HEAVEN! Almost literally, because my body was so banged up and bloody most days I thought I might die. But I was so happy. It almost made it worth it that I thought I may not have any more children.
One month after the semester started, I found out I was pregnant.
I was thrilled! Obviously this is what I’d been wanting for almost a year now, and if I could handle being back in the dance world with one child, surely I could do it with two…
The end of the semester came around and, as I was struggling to make it through a class without vomiting, I scheduled my doctors appointment for my first ultrasound. I continued to attend class until I couldn’t take it anymore and then I had to drop out. I’d thought about skipping the appointment I made because I’d already seen one ultrasound the first time around and I assumed it’d be much the same. But I had a nudging that made me go. Alone. While my husband worked.
One healthy heart beat.
Two healthy heart beats.
And then MY healthy heart about stopped. We were having TWINS! I cried, and shook, the whole appointment and the whole way home. I actually did call my husband and told him over the phone because an hour (also the distance from my home to the doc) was way too long to wait.
Our sweet baby boys were born 6 weeks early, and after a short stay in the NICU we were headed home, now as a family of 5. Obviously my dance career was put on hold but that was perfectly fine because my children were perfect and I was only 28 years old. I had plenty of time.
When people would ask me if having twins was WAY harder than having a singleton, I would respond, “No its surprisingly not! I’m changing a diaper already anyway, I may as well change two :)”. And it really wasn’t that hard, until they started being mobile. It was at that point that everyone in my life began telling me, “You’re NOT thinking of having any more children right? You’re done.” Usually it came in the form of a statement, not a concerned question. Usually I would laugh and just say I didn’t know. “Maybe one day but definitely not in the near future.” But for some reason my heart was already yearning for another when my not-yet-toddler twins were just a year old, although my desire for a dance career was still just as strong.
Baby #4 came just 11 months later. This pregnancy was different. Harder even than my twin pregnancy. I’m sure no one had this intention, but I felt judged. While during my first and second pregnancies I felt the need to tell everyone and show it off, this time I wanted to hide and if someone found out I felt I needed to apologize. I felt like the judgment was coming from people thinking I wasn’t able to care for this many children, that it wasn’t fair to them or to me to keep adding more to an already stressful situation. I told myself they were probably right and that this was it for us.
Any reservations I had about our decision to have another disappeared very quickly as soon as this sweet little boy was born. I am in love. And being in love with him makes me even more in love with my other children. He is 9 months old now. He’s making life more challenging with each passing day as he is now crawling, standing, feeding himself, all the things I previously had control over. It is HARD. Parenting is so hard (see this post). But I have to be honest. I don’t think he’s our last child.
The other day the kids were watching a Little Tykes show on the computer while I was cleaning. I overheard some dialogue between the toy car and a stuffed bear. The car had just been thrown into the back of a garbage truck on accident while he was attempting to ask the truck if he could help him with his job. As the truck sped down the road towards the dump the little car worried that he wouldn’t see his owner again. The little bear overheard his concerns and said, “You’re someone’s toy?? I think being someone’s toy is the greatest job anyone could ever have.” The car asked,
“Really? Better than being a bulldozer?”
“Better than being a garbage truck?”
“Definitely better than being a garbage truck.”
“Better than being a fire engine?”
“Lots better. Fire engines don’t have homes or little boys who love them. You’re really lucky”
“Hmm. I guess I am really lucky.”
Somehow this silly show struck me really hard. Especially when a few days later I was in the same room as the computer and all of a sudden I heard “You’re someones toy?” and the rest of the conversation ensued as I listened a second time. I asked my husband if he turned it on just for me because he thought I needed to hear it. He laughed and said no. He had just woken up the computer to do something else and then left the room. Apparently the computer had a mind of its own.
I also heard some very profound words today quoting a leader in our church, M. Russell Ballard. Speaking of the responsibility of parenthood, he said,
“Be the very best and act the very best you can. God will give you strength beyond your own as you strive daily to fulfill the most sacred mortal responsibility He gives to His children. Be of good cheer. God did not place you on earth to fail, and your efforts as parents will not be counted as failure unless you give up.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am SO grateful there are talented artists of all kinds who have chosen this as a career. It fills my heart with joy to witness these beautifully gifted dancers, musicians, fine artists, etc. sharing their talents with the world. They make the world a more beautiful place. I am a dancer and I always will be.
But I am a Mother. That is the job I have chosen. I CAN do this, whether I have one more or five more or no more. It was no accident and as arbitrary as my days may seem, these are the days that are going to help me reach my ultimate goal: Being in Heaven with my family for ever. And as short as this life is compared to eternity, I think I can manage the decade or so of changing diapers, sleepless nights, picky palates, and rolled eyes. It means I get to say I love you to someone every day. I get to HEAR I love you every day. And little kid hugs are just the best.