It’s quiet now except the hum of the dishwasher. We ate taco soup for dinner, with iceberg lettuce salad. The kids were super excited about the salad. “This is so good,” they told me on their 3rd and 4th servings. The oldest boy looked at me quizzically, “Did you do something different to the salad today?”
Yes. I used iceberg lettuce instead of spinach.
The kids love it when my husband goes shopping instead of me. He brings home yummy stuff like bagels and bananas, ranch dressing and iceberg lettuce.
I don’t send him very often.
But this has been the week of never-leaving-the-house. Different combinations of seven different babies have been here almost the entire week. The 5-month-old twins who sit in their bouncy seats, roll around on the floor, or snuggle in the baby wrap. The eleven-month-old little boy who wants to spend the day with his fingers on the computer or pulling everything out of the cupboards. The three-year-olds. Oh, those three-year-olds. A boy and girl, cousins, who are little smarty pants and spend their days singing the alphabet song and racing through the house and, thankfully, snuggled into beds for two-hour naps. And, of course, the boys who get off the bus. My boys who have been traipsing into my house since the almost-five-year-old was a baby.
I once said that I wanted, “Oh, seven or eight kids.” But then I thought I would have none.
And then God sent us the most incredible bundle of delightfulness in the form of a daughter. But He only sent one.
She cried about it, you know. We were at Aldi, grocery shopping, and we ran into a family with triplet daughters. They were just older than her and were laughing and joking and stopped to say hi, all friendliness and smiles. The girls raced off together then and my daughter stared at them with sorrow in her eyes. She turned and saw her daddy watching her.
“What’re thinking?” he asked, his voice all gentleness.
“Nothing important,” she said quickly.
He caught her hand and asked her again. I noticed the conversation then. The way she looked down, feeling bad but wanting her daddy to know the things that make her sad at the same time. “I wish Annie had lived. I wish I had sisters like that. I wish Mommy could have babies.”
We hugged her tight, right there in the produce section where it smelled of tomatoes and broccoli and overripe bananas.
I prayed that night. “Oh, Father. Can you, will you, please give my girl sisters and brothers someday?” I thought of my prayers for seven or eight babies. I thought of my dreams of being a stay-at-home mama who learned to know God more as she changed diapers and fed snacks and taught school on the kitchen counter.
I prayed it, of course, but most of me didn’t believe He’d do a thing about it. At least not yet. And I was okay with it, in part. We have so much healing to do– so much growing to do as a family. I trusted Him to do what would bring good into our lives. I was just pretty sure I knew what that was.
But then there they were. One in the early morning. A few later on. The boys coming off the bus late in the afternoon. They come and leave at all different times. First we have boys, then girls, then boys again.
And now we’re homeschooling on the kitchen counter. Reading Little House books and writing reports and studying simple machines. We stop reading history to go scoop up the almost-one-year-old who is trying to climb into the bouncy seat with one of the twins.
Division is my daughter’s worst nightmare come to life, so we try to break it down. “There are six babies here and we want to divide them into three rooms. How many babies go in each room?” She gets that and her eyes light up. When the problems get harder she cries a little, but then laughs. “I just don’t know HOW to divide up 32 babies, Mommy.”
I send her back to her desk to recite her times tables as I scoop up the fussy twin and strap her into the baby carrier. She snuggles up against my neck and sucks her thumb.
We still have quiet evenings. Weekends with just our little family of three.
But I am struck by the fact that God answered, again. As He always does.
Maybe tomorrow all my babies will be gone again. Off with their own families or to closer babysitters. But today? They are all part of the redemption. They are part of God’s voice that echoes through this glorious-hard-beautiful life.
I love them all. I love the moments redeemed. I love the way my daughter smiles when she rocks the twins. The way she sits at the kitchen table and braids the three-year-0ld’s hair. The way she jumps and sings when the school bus pulls in the driveway to drop off the big boys.
I love that today she has siblings.
And that God saw her longing and heard my prayers.
I working on an Advent book for next Christmas. A story that paints the story-of-all-stories for little hearts*. I wrote the words there but I had almost forgotten how true they are. God always hears when we talk to Him.
He does. He really does.
*make sure you sign up for my newsletter to keep up with the new books coming out this year. You’ll get the first glimpses of them there!