When I was young I wanted, quite badly, to be the mother of nine children. I had their names and genders all picked out (because when you’re ten, wishing is enough to make it so.) It is quite uncanny how many of the names I had chosen (Alex, Michael, Mallory, Elise) came from the t.v. show Family Ties. To be as efficient as possible, I had determined I would give birth to twins, twice. Fraternal twins, of course, because identical twins seemed like a lot of work to my ten year old self, what with trying to figure out who’s who.
Additionally, I had already decided that with this many children I could write the world’s best memoir, which I had mentally entitled, If Eight is Enough, Then What is Nine? (Which makes absolutely no sense if you’re not up on your popular late 70’s/early 80’s t.v. shows or if you
don’t didn’t have a crush on actor Willie Aames like I do, did.
By my teenage years, my projected number of children had dwindled quite a bit (down to a more reasonable six, with only one set of twins) due to the high volume of babysitting I did. How much babysitting did I do? At one point it would be reasonable to assume I babysat every Methodist child from the Wasatch Valley in the state of Utah. Anyways, enough to supply all my high school financial needs and pay for my first year of college.
I had gotten quite a bit of practice babysitting for a set of identical triplets during my junior high years, so the idea of identical twins didn’t seem quite so difficult. I decided not to insist on having fraternal twins, instead I magnanimously told God that He could decide. (It’s a miracle I never got struck down with a bolt of lightning.)
Then, when I was in college, I went to Disney World as a nanny to my cousins’ children (two of which were twins) and afterwards I eliminated any ambitions of having my own set. It was also then that I once again lowered the number of kids I wanted to have. Four or five children would surely be sufficient for me.
A few years later I met the man I would marry and we talked long into the night about our future together. We came up with a tentative plan of having two children close together, then taking a reproductive hiatus, then having two more children close together. It seemed like the perfect family. And foolishly I believed a family was something I could plan, something I could control.
After marriage I discovered that it’s not always as easy to get pregnant as everyone whispered about in high school (They just did it that one time and wham! She was pregnant!)
Then, after getting pregnant, I learned that my body had a challenging time staying pregnant. There were tears and pain and mourning and a little bit of despair. Previous dreams died and in their place I was left with shaky hopes and prayers.
But shaky hopes and prayers, when you have the right companion to hold your hand, can be enough. And somehow, through miraculous means that make me whisper to myself at odd moments throughout the day “How blessed am I?” I gave birth to three healthy children and gave them three names I had never considered in my youth.
The moral of my convoluted tale is simple enough: you can’t always get the things you plan on getting. Wishing doesn’t always make it so. Your childhood dreams don’t always come true. But when you stop complaining and crying and shouting how unfair it all is, when you let go of the idea that you can control anything beyond your attitude, sometimes you’re lucky enough to discover that you already are blessed beyond measure.
The Rolling Stones, it appears, are right: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.