Friday, December 21, 2012

Stockings, revisited

One for each child born thus far ...

Some days, what it takes to bring you around to counting your blessings is realizing how far you've come.

This morning, I woke up a touch peevish. (O.k.-- full disclosure: I woke up irritated and grumpy and completely unimpressed with the fact that I am still pregnant.) I came downstairs to a puppy whining to be let out her kennel to go potty, a teenage daughter nearly in tears with pain from yesterday's orthodontic appointment, a husband trying desperately to figure out how to juggle a hot iron and a breakfast casserole at the same time, and stinking low blood sugar. None of this was a recipe for A Very Good Morning, and it sure wasn't looking up in the A Very Good Day Overall department, either. By the time I managed a cup of (mostly cold) tea, the entire brood was downstairs sharing this not-to-stellar morning together. Loudly.

I freely admit it-- there are moments when the large family thing is mildly controlled chaos. Where you look around and ask yourself what on earth you were thinking, even considering parenting a kid ready for Driver's Ed and another who pretends to be an elephant half the time-- not to mention the many others who fall in between. Moments where you ask yourself why on earth you have kids in the same developmental stages, or why you ever thought that a three bedroom house could handle the amount of living that a Momma, Daddy, passel of kids, and 2 dogs dish out. 

These are the crazy-making moments. And while they are few and far between, they are there, and they are real. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying--and I say that with love. Mostly.

In those moments of realizing just how insane it really is to live this life, I almost always find that God drags my attention back to the big picture with some irrefutable proof of his desire to do me good, not harm. This morning was no exception. Just as I felt myself starting to go Grinch, just as the noise, noise, noise, noise started to make my shoes just a little too tight, I saw them.

The stockings.

You see, years ago, I pined over stockings. Arms aching, I posted about how blessed I was to have six stockings on our mantle: one each for Mr. Blandings, myself, Jo, Atticus, Logan, and our beloved German Shepherd. But still, I wanted more. My heart was heavy with unanswered loss and open-ended anticipation. I was ending yet another year with a heavy desire for more, and no real answer as to how or when that more would turn into yes.

As we close out 2012, I turn my eyes not to my mantle (the stockings are now too numerous to fit there) but instead to the space just above our well-loved piano. Seven stockings hang there now, just one more than before. But ... 

The first is for Bee, who has never spent a Christmas with us, and whose absence haunts our hearts, but whose love is never far from our minds.

The second is for Jo, who has blossomed into a fine young woman and whose Christmas mornings under our roof now feel so very, very numbered.

The third is for Atticus, a nearly unrecognizable ManCub, who is growing far too fast.

The fourth is for Logan, still, thankfully, a silly, joyous boy intent on living life to its fullest.

The fifth is for Oliver, our much-anticipated more baby, who I never take for granted.

The sixth is for Manolin, the little guy I never saw coming, but who filled a space in our family clearly empty for so long.

The seventh is for Seven, the cup overflowing blessing baby girl.

And next year ... another stocking. Another baby. Another blessing.

No room for stockings for Momma and Daddy. Definitely no stockings for dogs to round out the numbers.

Seven children, seven souls, seven people in whom to delight.

I'll take that over silence any day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Things are looking more promising.

Officially off bed rest, I now find myself in the irksome limbo of "Haven't you had that baby yet?" 

The simple answer is no, I have not had that baby. Yet.

But I take great comfort in the fact that I will. Soon, even.

Sometime in the next few weeks, I will find myself grinding through the terrible, wonderful work that is labor, and will spend a few last minutes in questioning awe, waiting to meet the new soul the Lord has entrusted to us. And then he or she will finally emerge, and I will stare in fascination at this person and wonder how it is that I have managed to live 38 years on this earth without knowing this face.

This is the amazing truth of being witness to a miracle: when all is said and done, you can't remember life before it, and life after its advent will never, ever be the same.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Oli, age 6

The worst thing about bed rest is the stuff you narrowly get to be a part of. Participating-- on a limited, slightly removed-- basis from life is somehow more maddening than not bearing witness at all, I think. From the couch, I tell Logan how many potatoes need to be scrubbed and added to the crockpot. From the couch, I remind Seven that it is time to potty. From the couch, I walk Jo through a recipe she's never tackled. I am here. My voice is within reach, I am present and accounted for, and yet ...

I have not rocked my baby girl, felt her head nuzzle into my neck, and sung her bedtime songs in nearly two weeks. I did not bake this year's first batch of holiday shortbread-- that honor went to Jo, who did a masterful job. I did not run up to help Atticus with his math conundrum. I am not washing up the baby diapers and getting them ready for our next sweet blessing.

And I did not put Oli to bed last night, or peek in on him as he lay sleeping, or hang his birthday streamers, or set up the display of birthday gifts. Others stepped in to fill those roles, and for that I am grateful, but also sad. Because, you see, my little man turned six today ... and I feel like only half a Momma right now.

It's probably (most likely) hormones. Or the inevitable "Another baby! How will I do it all?" feelings that sweep over me as I inch towards the moment when our family adds another soul to its circle. Or maybe it's the swirl of complicated emotions that we adoptive Mommas so often feel as we contemplate the rich road of brokenness, grace, and redemption that is simply unavoidable on the days which celebrate births we did not endure, yet somehow became our own. 

At any rate, Oliver is six years old--and while I had a bit more involvement in the marking of the day than I had during his actual birth, I feel so wistful, such longing for more that I can barely look into his shockingly blue eyes without tearing up. He has had a fabulous day, one that truly couldn't have been any happier had we dropped him part and parcel into a candy store. He is delighted that this day is about him, and that finally, finally it is his birthday. He cannot tell you how old he is (we're working on that) but he does know the birthday song, and is quite delighted that everyone puts up lights on their houses just for him. Truly, the Lord placed this boy's birthday exactly at the right time of year.

So happy birthday, precious Oli. May this year bring you much joy, growth, happiness, and delight. And may you never forget that, even though your Momma has seasons of frailty, the Lord who created you never does.