Almost every day, I have this thought: How on earth did I have three children?? It honestly amazes me because as much as I love children, I am not one of those people who have dreamt of having a big family with five, six, seven+ children. No, with “just” three, I have already exceeded the golden number two which I had always pictured for my family, and my plate is more than full…it’s overflowing.
But of course, I’m in love with #3 , so it’s all good, but there are many moments I zone out just thinking about how I got to this place because I could have sworn it was just yesterday that Danny and I were taking long walks after dinner, peacefully holding each other’s hands rather than our children’s, and dreaming about what our family would look like. I am in disbelief of how far we have come from that point in time. All the while, these little ones, ones I once could not even imagine the faces of, are running amok through my life, and I can’t imagine life without any of them.
And I can’t believe there were days when we just had one and I wondered if I could possibly love another. I can’t believe there were days when we had two, and I felt that my hands, my heart, my schedule, my everything was so full that I had reached my absolute limit. But that wasn’t true either and what if we never had our precious #3? Or #2? I don’t even want to think about it because they are here and in my life now, and each one is so unexplainably dear and special and cherished that I would not have it any other way.
And now, sometimes I sit back and wonder, could I love more? Could I give more? Hypothetically speaking, could I “make room” for one, or two, or three more children?
I would normally be tempted to say NO WAY JOSE, but last week I was given the rare opportunity to take care of a three month old foster baby. When I was first asked to do this, for a split second, I immediately thought about how hectic my house already was and flashes of more chaos thundered before my eyes. But my answer was automatically yes, simply because it has been a long standing dream of mine to be a foster parent one day.
So I welcomed this baby girl into my home and allowed her to join our family’s crazy life for a few days. At first, she was just another baby. Very cute, cuddly, and adorably chubby. However, between running back and forth from baby to baby, warming up bottles of milk, and trying to keep my two older children entertained, I hardly had a moment to really sit down and connect with this girl the way I wanted to.
And then it was naptime and both my baby and this foster baby were crying inconsolably. At first, I alternated between the two, doing my best to comfort each of them for short increments at a time, but that wasn’t helping either of them. So eventually, I gathered both of them into my arms and holding them tightly, I wondered how moms of multiples do it. Then after several minutes passed, I was not sure how much longer I could take before my arms could quite possibly break off, and with each passing second, I became more and more certain that three was REALLY my max and I could not adequately take care of any more.
Thankfully, they both calmed down soon enough and I was able to finally lay them down on the bed for a diaper change. When I was all done, it was just as I was snapping up the final buttons on their little onsies that I caught a glance of their faces and paused to see two pairs of innocent eyes staring intently up at me, one pair brown and the other pair blue. And even as I could feel the beads of sweat trickling their way down my crown from the previous moment’s frenzy, joy took over and overwhelmed me. Both their gazes were so intense and full of longing that almost instinctively, I felt the need to respond. I had to engage.
So looking back and forth from one baby to the other, I spent the next several minutes singing the first made up song that came to mind while they took turns smiling each time my eyes locked with theirs. They were bursting with delight, my son delighting in the love of his mother and this little girl delighting in me just the same. And it was during one of these times I looked deep into those newly acquainted blue eyes, both full of wonder and full of loss that I wasn’t sure she even really knew of, that my heart broke, burst, and became filled to the brim with compassion all at the same time.
How could this happen to a child?? It was an absolute devastating tragedy to think that this baby or any other baby in the world for that matter should be without mother or father. I could not even fathom this happening to the one laying next to her, my beloved son, and I suddenly felt a new measure of love to make room for her in our home, to care for her, and to give her everything I had. She could be like one of my own.
Yet I knew very well that this compassion, this feeling, this urge to love, was not something that spontaneously sprung up from myself nor was it based on any of my own goodness, “goodness” which had been tested so many times before only to fail and even just a minute ago could not imagine caring for a single child more. But as I sat there suddenly weeping over this girl and her poverty, I thanked God because He was showing me His heart and His capacity to love not only His own one and only begotten son with a perfect love, but to ALSO love each of us orphans in the world with such burning compassion that it moves Him to respond and welcome us all into his home, every single last one of us.
I then knew I could do the same….maybe not for all of creation, but at least for the ones He brought into my life and the ones He might continue to bring, to both extend and to taste for myself a small portion of God’s infinite love.
I am so thankful for this grace. It is the grace to be loved and a grace to love freely with a love that never runs out.