As a married couple in our second year of marriage, Luke and I get the question "Do you guys plan to have children?" a lot. We have our response planned and rehearsed. And the conversation usually goes one of two ways. In our current area, it's usually a pro-children conversation since families are the norm here. In Dallas and amongst our more spiritual-goal-oriented friends, it's a "You should wait, children are a burden" conversation.
Quick back story for readers who are not familiar with Jehovah's Witnesses: Our religion puts a lot of emphasis on spiritual goals, like full-time ministry service. These goals are not requirements but are meant to help people give their best to Jehovah. We are all for this and I have been fulfilling the goal of full-time service for the last 6 years and we are starting our 2nd year as a couple. While families are encouraged to pursue similar goals together with their children, it should be acknowledge that it is a lot easier financially and safer on a global scale for single individuals and child-less couples to reach these goals.
So I completely understand that those who try to dissuade us from having kids are well meaning. They see the potential we have as a couple who have chosen to live a life-style that enables us to dedicate the majority of our time to our ministry. And I can see how they think the goal of having kids contradicts that life style.
But every time this conversation comes up, I have to suppress the feelings of hurt and judgement. Having kids is not for everyone. But having kids for us as a couple and me as a woman is a big deal. That's not to say I want kids NOW. No, there are things, goals, we want to do first. But we DO want kids.
From day 1 in our relationship, we talked about kids. Luke is the #1 person that knows how close this is to my heart. He's been the person who has held my hand and rubbed my back as I've cried over feelings that choosing to have a family contradicts our spiritual goals. He and Jehovah are the ones who know how much time and prayer I have put into planning for a family and preparing myself to be a good parent.
From my personal study of the Bible, I know how much God values children and good parents. How much he values the role of mothers. So for me, I have put a lot of time and effort into what being parents will mean and involve for us.
I know most people don't realize that about us. When we make comments about kids, they view it as comments made by inexperienced people without children. And I am inexperienced. I know I cannot fully grasp the weight and stress of parenthood until I am one. But I also know I can just as confidently say I want to be a parent and I will do my best to be a good parent as anyone else can tell me "You shouldn't be a parent."
For me being a good parent means sacrifice. I see most of my generation today who have become parents and I don't see this quality. I see them still wanting to focus on their careers or the recreation they enjoy. I see them think of what they want first and then see how they can fit a child into that.
But for me, being a parent means thinking about your kids' needs first. What do they need to grow, develop, learn, and thrive. When I become a mom, I don't expect to be able to think about MY career. About MY time. That's why I want to enjoy thinking about those things now before kids.
And as a Witness, I'm prepared for that. Life as a full-time servant requires sacrifice and thought of Jehovah first. It means thinking of what I need to do for him before what I want to do for myself.
So when I become a mom, the priority list will simply switch from Jehovah then Luke then me. To Jehovah, our kids, Luke, then me. And I am ok with that. I'm not saying it will be easy. It's easy to be self-centered. It's easy to focus on my wants. But if I prepare myself for that mindset now, I can better implement it when the time comes.
And I can't wait for that time. I can't wait for the time when my day revolves around "What can I teach my child today? What can I help them learn about Jehovah? What can I help them learn about the world around them? How can I satisfy their needs by helping them learn to be good, respectful people?"