IT WAS A PRIVILEGE
It was a privilege, little man, to celebrate your fourth birthday with you–just like it was a privilege to do Christmas with you and see the excitement of gifts, good food, and “Away in the Manger” reflected in your eyes. We are not the ones who have been here for all the special days in your life, and we don’t know how many more of them we will share with you… But for now we are honored to light the birthday candles again, so you can blow them out for the fourth time, to be the ones who tuck you into bed afterwards and ask you if you had a good birthday, to be the people you call to in the night, because you know we will come and make sure you are okay.
In a few short months you taught us more about ourselves and each other than we learned in our “normal” first year of marriage. You invaded all of our spaces, broke down the barriers that stood between our own lives and our service to God, showed us that pouring ourselves into something together can draw us closer to each other and that love does not become smaller when shared. Because of you, the children we give birth to will not be the first we learn to parent together, and for that invaluable experience we thank you.
You destroyed every naive idea I have had about parenting, fostering, and surviving life in hard times. I watched my idealism and most of my hope shatter around my feet as I day after day chose to do what needed done in spite of my inability to see any results except my own incredible exhaustion and diminishing confidence that I could meet the needs I saw in your life. I began to realize that, after all, I am not the answer for you or for anyone, that only God can redeem anything. You broke me, and I cried at my own inadequacy and admitted to myself that I had failed…
And then, slowly, slowly, you began to break too… Love was all we had to offer you when we realized that we had no wisdom, no perfect parenting techniques, not even the energy some days to get off the couch and play games with you. But little by little God softened your young heart and you caved to our love, almost imperceptibly. Through our great shortcomings–through pregnancy sickness, fatigue, and preparing for our own children–we continued to offer you our love, and eventually, you took it and returned it, showing us that you trust us even though we are still far from perfect.
And now we wonder where to go from here. What to do with the gift of your trust? How to love you when we may one day again break your heart? Can we show you, in the time we have, however long it is, that love is worth it and real, even on the days when it breaks your heart? Can you somehow learn to trust us enough that you will believe in God’s love, because we taught you about it, even if you are sometime far away from us?
Can we believe in God’s love enough to share it even in possibly transient, uncertain relationships?
The questions weigh on my mind these days–but when I watched you blow out the candles on your birthday cake for the fourth time, I knew that it was a privilege to celebrate your fourth birthday with you, no matter how many more of your birthdays we share…
Ben keeps asking me, repeatedly, to share the above on my blog. He says I need to post it before my blog becomes all about twins. So, in honor of the first child I have “mothered”, I share it with you.
This may be my last blog post for a while, or then again, maybe not… It is hard to say. I feel a bit like Paul when he wrote that it does not yet appear what we shall be. “What I shall be” is a mystery hiding for a few more moments, somewhere on the other side of that eventful day fast approaching when I will go into the hospital and relinquish the life I have known for the past months. Most of the time I am so ready–so ready to look at my babies, and squeeze them, and hear their little voices. So ready to stop living on crackers and cheese, and standing up slowly to avoid sudden waves of nausea, and rolling painfully out of bed four or so times a night… And then sometimes I think about spending most of my nights out of bed rocking and feeding babies, and my days doing the same. Caring for babies is something I love to do, something I have done in the past–but a twelve-hour shift with a sick baby in a hospital nursery cannot be quite the same as being the 24/7 mommy of twins… And I am well aware that I will have a lot to learn and much patience to grow. And of course, there is the scary part of my upcoming scheduled induction to think about. But in spite of all that, I am so ready… Even if it means that this is my last blog post for a while.
I had appointments twice every week for the last number of weeks, and every time I went in thinking that it could be the day when my little guy wasn’t doing so well, and I would find myself in the hospital awaiting delivery. But I had my last Maternal Fetal Medicine appointment yesterday, and, like every previous time, my boy baby was a little champ–healthy and happy in spite of his extreme growth restriction and the loss of an umbilical artery. It seems miraculous to me that he could be so energetic in spite of this rare complication; I am so thankful, every time, and I do not take healthy babies for granted. Over and over, I remind myself that God is the only one who holds their little lives in His hands, that there are never any guarantees in life, not even in the most normal, singleton pregnancy–not even after babies are born and seem to be healthy or turn twenty and seem to be stable adults. There will always be something I could worry about.
I could worry about our foster son, and what the future holds for us and him. I could worry about my marriage and the fact that just a little over 1.5 years after our wedding, we will have very little time for each other besides caring for our mutual charges. Life, as it often will, holds a lot of question marks for me, and for us, and that could un-nerve me.
But today I choose faith. My Bible app sent me a verse from Colossians: “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power…” If there is anything I have not felt recently, it is strong. My functionality has declined to the point where a normal social event feels like a huge mountain I have to climb, and getting out of a recliner feels like a chore… And my faith does not feel much greater than my physical strength.
The result of the strength in Colossians is patience, joyfulness, and longsuffering… And how I need all of those, in this season of life and on to the next. May God give me a small portion of that strength. Amen.