Okay, so, back in the day, when we only had one (surprise) baby, we used to actually sit around and talk about how many kids we might have. Granted, the conversations were never very long--I think we always had a sense that we would be more than just three. The "family planning" conversations always ended up at the same inevitable conclusion: Let's Wait And See. I remember countless times sitting around the dinner table with Baby Cole in his highchair, telling Justin: "I know it's so busy, but I feel like someone is missing..."
Same thing when Reese came along. We were over-the-moon blessed to have two healthy boys! ...but when I would set the plates on the table at night I often found myself grabbing too many out of the cupboard. We would sit around the table and dine, and though it should have maybe felt complete (I come from a family of four), I still felt a sense of loss for one that was missing. And by then Justin was feeling it too.
So over the years, this has been a common thread for us. With each crazy, loud addition, we still look at each other over our soup bowls and nod that yes, one is missing. But it has become more than that to me--more than trying to control what the size of this family might eventually be. It has evolved instead into a willingness to be open to what God is asking me to do within these four walls. Maybe (certainly) that will mean a baby for us this year. Maybe it will mean opening up a room (or a basement) to a family member or friend that needs a place to stay for awhile. Maybe it means foster care at some point in our lives. I'm not sure--but I do know that He is asking me to let go of my desire to define what "family" means and what its limitations are. He can do so much more than I can even imagine. I have stopped wanting to place roadblocks in the way of the plans He has for me.
I am trying to teach my boys that love is to be shared, and that children are a blessing. I tell them daily that they are gifts that God has given me. It's so important to me that they know that. So I get a little weepy when we sit down at Costco to eat our hot dogs for lunch, and see two children sitting a few tables away (whose mother is surely getting their napkins and straws), and hear Cole say, "Do you think those kids would like to come live with us?" Because in that moment, I think, he gets it. He knows that family boundaries are meant to be fluid, that beds can be pushed against walls to make room for another, that another chair can always be pulled up to the table. That another handful of beans can be added to the pot.
And this week, even though I have been very, very careful to never talk about feeling a "hole" in our family in front of my children, Cole sat down to the dinner table on two separate occasions, and immediately said: "Doesn't it feel like someone is missing?"
Meet the newest member of our family! I think he looks like Sean, but maybe that's because Sean still looks so much like a baby. Oh, and I use the term "he" loosely; no, we didn't find out; you'll have to wait just a little bit longer! Baby will be making an appearance the beginning of September. Ish.