Every December 22nd I read those blessed verses from Isaiah reminding us that a home crowded with children is a something Greatly To Be Desired.
Today's first reading in the Office of Readings, from Isaiah, contains lines that were enormously consoling to me years ago when I was expecting my fourth child. We were living in a smallish 3 bedroom ranch in California--no attic, no basement, and a one car garage that held all the things one would normally store in an attic or a basement.
Although I laugh now to think about it, I was at the time in a minor panic over how I would house the next child were it to be a girl. My two older daughters were in one small bedroom, and our son in the other. A certain relative hinted that putting three children in one bedroom simply is Not Done, nor does one ever, ever, let children of opposite sexes share a room, even if one is a preschooler and the other a newborn. I was still young and silly enough to care about keeping this person's good opinion, even though it had already been lost years before when I had the bad taste to become pregnant on my honeymoon.
Sure enough, I had another girl. Little Maryanne had no idea how unhappy she was supposed to be, sharing a 10x11 room with two adoring sisters who were in fierce competition to see who could make her smile often. When she was 5 weeks old I picked up the breviary and read this December 22nd passage from Isaiah:
Though you were waste and desolate,
a land of ruins,
Now you shall be too small for your inhabitants,
while those who swallowed you up will be far away.
The children whom you had lost
shall yet say to you,
“This place is too small for me,
make room for me to live in.”
And guess what? This was not a prediction of woe for Israel, but a promise of hope and blessing!
In other words, God used my predicament --a predicament I would have at regular intervals for the next 20 years--as an illustration of a good, highly to be envied situation. And the people of Israel, uncorrupted by articles in Parents Magazine about the pitfalls of siblings sharing a room, understood this.
Isaiah helped me to realize that my problem was a pretty good one to have.
This post originally appeared in December of 2012.