|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.
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.