I am sure I am not the only person that never watched the age old classic It’s a Wonderful Life until they were well into their 30’s. This Christmas season I finally sat down and watched this entire movie from beginning to end. If you haven’t seen the movie, I am totally going to spoil it in this post, and probably not do it any justice as I paraphrase the story to suit the purpose of this blog post.
In the beginning of the movie we learn there is a crisis with the main character, one that leads him to contemplate ending his own life. God is speaking with an angel in training, and trying to help him understand the main character. So we see glimpses of him throughout his life to help us see what ultimately drives him into crisis.
The main character is depicted as the kind of person that just always does the right thing, he always puts his own dreams and desires aside for the greater good. As a child, he dreamt of traveling, he worked hard, he was observant and kind, and the entire town knew him. His father co-owned the local Building Savings and Loan, and the town was basically owned by a frustrated, miserable old millionaire that only cared about money and didn’t burden himself with the likes of a wife and children or even friends. As our main character grows up we see him constantly make sacrifices for the good of those around him.
He wasn’t able to go to college right after High School, so he saved for 4 years and was going to spend a summer traveling before starting college, as he is walking him the night before he is to leave on his adventures, his father suddenly passes away, and that leaves our main character with a hard decision to make, but he makes it without much thought given. He stays behind to help put his father’s affairs in order and skips his summer traveling. The day he is supposed to leave for college, he is faced with a difficult decision, leave and let the family business go under, or stay and keep it open. He decides to stay.
He holds down the fort until his brother graduates college and hopes to trade places with his brother. We soon find out that his brother is recently married and offered a position with his new Father-in- law, and once again, our main character is faced with a decision.
He then falls in love, despite his desire to roam the world and get out of his small town, and settles down to have a family. All the while, he is anxious to see outside the confines of his small town.
Opportunity after opportunity present themselves, yet he always chooses to keep the business open because of how it has helped everyone in his small town.
Fast forward to the night of the crisis. His Uncle (the other co-owner) misplaces a large sum of money at the bank, but doesn’t know where he misplaced it. The business is supposed to be reconciled that very day and in their frantic search for the money, our main character ends up somewhat of a fugitive because the books are coming up VERY short and he is avoiding the banker for obvious reasons.
He is about to jump off a bridge when our angel in training decides to jump off first, expecting that the main character will put aside his own desires once again and put someone else first. Which happens, and the angel in training tries to explain who he is, but our main character isn’t buying it. Until the angel in training grants him his wish to “never have been born.”
As you can expect, we spend the last part of the movie watching as the angel in training shows our main character what the town is like without him. We see all of his family members, we see his wife never married, his brother died as a child because he wasn’t there to save him, his mother is a tired widow, all the business he helped save, gone, the people are carnal, sensual, really rough around the edges, the camaraderie amongst the townsfolk is gone.
The main character then begs for everything to be put back as it was. He realizes the life he was so ungrateful for was actually a dream come true. He is granted his wish again, and this time, he has a much better perspective on the responsibilities he accepted and the relationships he didn’t quite cherish enough. His situation didn’t change, but he no longer felt trapped in his little old town, he felt like a valuable part of it. He found his purpose.
At the very end, he comes back to his house, and is ready to be arrested when his entire town comes rushing into his house to offer help, they then come up with the sum of money needed to keep the Building Savings and Loan open, and they all life happily ever after!
The day I watched this movie, I was an emotional roller coaster. I had something heavy on my mind, I was starting to feel trapped, overwhelmed, excited, sad, happy, just about every emotion ran through my heart, mind and body. I was trying hard to appreciate the wonderful blessings bouncing around me in the form of my active children. I struggle feeling trapped within this stage of my life. I have worked hard to identify when I feel trapped and overwhelmed and have learned to turn it around quickly. I am truly blessed, and I know that if I were living any other life, I would want this one. I do not have freedom to get up and go, or even sleep through the night, but I have a committed husband and healthy, beautiful children. I live on a small farm, we have a modest house, we have food on the table, and we are warm and cozy on these cold winter nights.
My husband and I always talk about how we love each and everyone of our children and love the people they are becoming. We sometimes just watch them, and our hearts burst because of how amazing our big, little family is. Of course there is a TON of chaos in between all of these beautiful moments, but we get through it. Our kids love having so many siblings, and never really complain about it, except maybe when it is time to do the dishes.
So as I watch this movie, I realize that I am so much like the main character, always striving to do the right thing, but sometimes with a little resentment because of the things I would rather be doing with my life. I finally started to feel like I was tapping back in to a different part of myself as my youngest was nearing 2 and I recently started going back to school. I was beginning to feel like I was entering a different stage of life, one where I could be fully engaged with my kids as they were growing into people, and even take a little time to finish my college education.
Remember when I said something was heavy on my mind? Well, what was heavy at that moment was how I was going to share with my husband, who was so excited to be on to this stage as well, that we weren’t, in fact, done with those sleepless nights and newborn cries. How was I going to tell him we were going to have one more cute little baby when we both felt we had just as much as we could handle? I feared that it would add too much pressure on his shoulders and debated not telling him until he figured it out. But I needed him to know, I needed him to help me through this roller coaster I was feeling.
So I walked up to him, and I mumbled something about how we were going to have an odd number, but not of what, and explained that I was on the verge of tears but couldn’t tell if they were scared tears or happy tears. That’s when he put it together. Now, my husband doesn’t show emotions very often, but he got up from where he was sitting and was legitimately excited to find out we were having another baby. His big hug was all I needed to dispel the fear I felt over the future.
Let me be clear. I am never afraid of having a baby, but after my difficult post partum experience after our last baby, I didn’t see how I could possibly handle another one. I was afraid of snapping again, or of things possibly getting worse. This is when a good friend of mine offered perspective that I needed to hear. It may have taken a while to figure out the right things to help me dig out of my anxiety and depression after the last baby, but we figured it out, and because we did, we know exactly what to do if I struggle again. My doctor is already well aware of what is going on, my nurse midwife knows exactly what is going on, and I have great friends who support me despite my emotional ups and downs.
Overall, this next baby is going to be a fun, crazy, amazing adventure. I am excited to meet our new little one. The excitement doesn’t go away with each additional child, the anticipation doesn’t go away either. Whether it is your first of your seventh, it is a little human being. There is a person, a brand new person, waiting to meet all of us, and we can’t wait to meet him or her. The advantage of being the youngest of a big family is there are a lot of people waiting to love on this little one. Our youngest little one is totally spoiled with all of the love and attention he gets from everyone in our family even now.
Our kids are super excited to meet another sibling, my husband is excited, I am freaking out inside but still excited, and overall, I really think this is entirely God’s plan for our family. I have faith everything will work out, I am surrounding myself with people who lift me up, and I am finding my calm in the chaos to help me stay centered and grounded when things get tough. So instead of feeling trapped, I feel incredibly blessed. This life is crazy hard sometimes, but it is worth every sleepless night and every bit of chaos.
So there you have it. This is what 2019 has in store for our little family! Stay tuned as I share how we survive this year, how I maintain health and sanity (and lose it sometimes), and what it is really like raising a big family!
Side note: As I wrote this blog my kids happily played, some sat still with dad while he watched youtube tutorials, they fought, made messes, got into mischief, and then went back to playing and cooperating.