Growing up, I used to imagine I’d have about six kids. Then I got older (as in college, you know, really old) and I realized that was a crazy idea. Oh, and I met and fell in love with a man who only had one brother and looked at me a little cross eyed when I mentioned having more than two because, he maintained, once your family is more than four it’s harder to find a good table at a restaurant.
Never mind that once your family is blessed with toddlers, you don’t go out to restaurants anyway. But guess what? He was right.
We’re a family of six now. Four little mini versions of the best and worst of ourselves who can’t all fit in a booth at Wendy’s. or Chic-Fil-A. or McDonald’s. We rarely try other places.
Madelynne came along in 2004 after we’d only been married two years. Now that I’m older and wiser again, I will say I wish we’d had a little more time to enjoy each other, but then we wouldn’t have her…and for awhile my husband would say, “Well, we’ll still be pretty young when they’re all out of the house.”
Eight years and three more later he says, “Think we’ll make it until then?”
Annabelle came along just eighteen months later and I called him on our third anniversary to say I was pregnant and he thought I was kidding. For a long time after her, I really thought we might be settled at two. Two was harder than one, but it was fun. The girls are close sisters and we were approaching the ages when we could take them to restaurants that didn’t have playgrounds. We even went to Disney World and had a fabulous time despite summer heat because we had reached a milestone in the lives of all parents: no more diapers.
Then on Father’s Day in 2009, we found out we were pregnant again. Amelia is our only “planned” baby, if you can plan such a thing. She came along at a time when I was really, truly ready to embrace motherhood. Finally, I felt like I had my life a bit together enough to be a parent worthy of this calling. I taught for one more year and then turned in my resignation and readied myself for a whole new world.
I could go on field trips with the elementary school. I could eat lunch with the girls anytime they asked. I could pick them up and drop them off and take them to dance or soccer or the park after school without feeling like I’d already given away my best for the day.
Well, like I said yesterday, sometimes motherhood isn’t what you expected.
On Madelynne’s seventh birthday I cried in the arms of my midwife when the pregnancy test was, in her words, “very positive.”
I really didn’t think I could do this again. I hadn’t asked for more, I had become content with what I had been given, and when people asked us didn’t we want to try for a boy, I never said yes.
I didn’t need another baby to feel complete; I just needed to know I was being the best mom I could be.
“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”
I staked my claim in this promise of God when a sunny May morning gave me my beautiful baby boy. He is more than I’ve ever asked for or wanted or believed I could handle.
Someone said the other day (I think it was Merideth on an old Grey’s episode) that we have the children we’re supposed to have.
Thank you, Lord, I don’t have the six I asked for, not because of number, but because those perfect little children I used to imagine would be mine are pretty lifeless compared to the strong-willed four I’ve got.