Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Beauty in the Others

Yesterday, one of my very closest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. We waited and watched and crowded around my phone when the first texts came through that this long beloved, long prayed for child took his first breaths of this life. He is the fifth child in a sequence of nearly spaced children of a Catholic family. When many other families may have stopped, my sweet friends greeted this unexpected new life - no less glorious than their first.

I have observed in my own life that while "4 is the new 2," five is officially crazy. For some reason, five children makes a statement: We are trying to prove something. Because nobody, nobody in their right mind would have five children, unless they were under some kind of mandate.

Here is where I come clean: we are under a mandate. My husband and I, of our own free will, decided to join a Church where we cannot limit the size of our families by unnatural means.  What does that mean to us? That means that by living as a normal man and wife, we will welcome the children that come as the fruit of this union. As I have witnessed in my everyday life, this comes as an assault to the public at large.

I don't want to tell you about how I am questioned in the library or even in the parking lot of my own church. I want to tell you about the intimate moments that reinforce the relevance of God's almighty plan for our family. Allow me to tell you about the good.

My youngest daughter likes to sleep. This comes as quite a thrill to my system because she takes after me in this affection. If there is an addiction to sleep, I am a willing participant. This morning as the older children and I were finishing breakfast and snuggling in to read a chapter of Redwall, my three-year old daughter toddled down, heavy with sleep. Her hair was a jumble with the lateness of the hour. I greeted her with open arms, and she smiled at me through her heavily sucked fingers, and turned towards her beloved sister. Annie, my daughter, wise and kind beyond her mere 6 years of age, silently allowed her sister into her arms. They held eachother as I read.

I look at these two some times and marvel, if I would have had only the two children that I had allowed in my mind, this miracle would have never happened. 

God's infinite plan never ceases to amaze me.

We have five children - 3 older boys and 2 younger girls. That means that there is an inevitable "middle" child. My almost-nine-year-old son is a marvel of in-betweenness. He is not quite as mature as my older boys but not quite a baby like the girls. My mom said that when he was born, I made the declaration that he was, "mine." While I can't specifically remember this proclamation, his soul and mine are most certainly made of the same material. He has my heart.

Tonight as  my youngest daughter climbed the stairs for bedtime, I heard the most blood-curdling scream, Miiiiiiiii-Chaeeeeeeeeeel!!!!" The little one wanted her brother. I ran up the stairs to find the two, locked in embrace, staring at the first nasty Stink Bug of the year. Michael had a plan to scoop up the stink bug with a dust pan and escort it outside to safety. He's like that, Michael. He's both protective and gentle. He figured out a way to both protect his sister and harm not the stink bug.  

Lucky little stink bug.  That sucker would have been dead, had I been in charge.

Here's the thing: I am not in charge. Since we surrendered our lives to the will of God, we have had to choke back the images of how we'd seen our lives in our mind's eye. I would have never expected that I would have ended up with 5 children - one of whom has chronic health problems. I would never have expected to have  3 boys in a row - when I so desperately longed for daughters. I would never have expected that I would leave my heart so vulnerable to the triumphs and heartbreaks of parenthood - but I am a better person for it. I am a more sympathetic, empathetic, humble person than I was before. I like to think that God Almighty had this life in His mind's eye when he planned it for me.

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