This is long...
I gotta talk this one out...
I picked that number on a whim.
As a senior in high school, sitting among dear friends---some over-achievers, some average achievers, and a few slackers---I listened as summer plans and future dreams unfolded. Colleges spread across the country, summer mission trips, exciting jobs like life-guarding and ice-cream scooping, and plenty of talk about what we were "going to be" when we grew up. At that moment, anything was possible.
I think I zoned out.
"What are your plans?"
How dare someone try to pull me into the conversation when I was clearly trying to stay out.
I had a set answer. Firstborns have to have a plan, so I had prepared an answer that seemed safe months before graduation.
"Pre-Med at CU." (Who's not impressed with that? And the CU part was true.)
As an after thought, I added a new twist to my plans,
"Oh yeah, and I'm going to have 6 kids." (Who doesn't love kids?)
When you are a senior in high school, why not go big?
The pre-med major lasted...ummmm....maybe a month...before I realized that I despised most sciences and maths (and I really wasn't very good at either subject anyway--my dad had tried to tell me this before I left for college, but I knew more than he did.) Journalism was a better fit.
What do you want to be when you get out of school?
I had heard that a thousand times through high school and college.
I remember being honest once. Just once.
And my admission came in the least likely of all places.
Home one weekend from Boulder, I visited a college group with some friends. A group of overly confident Air Force Academy students sat near talking about their engineering classes (how boring!)---their heavy academic loads (good for you!)---and their future goals which included crazy things like pilot training, navigator training, and astronautical engineering (who are you people?).
Talk about being a misfit. There was nothing intelligent that I could add to the conversation.
Best to stay silent.
One guy attempted to bring me into the fold.
Shame on him.
What are your plans after school?
I thought about throwing out the pre-med major (I mean, I was pre-med once), but I had this serious fear that someone would ask me about it and it would only take a second for them to realize that I was a big, fat liar.
I decided to go the honest route.
Throw a wrench into their over-achieving boasts.
Really...I just want to be a mom. With a lot of kids.
What could they say to that? Who doesn't love moms?
The conversation kind of halted. No one seemed overly bothered, nor overly impressed.
Except the guy who asked the question.
He married me 9 months later.
We breezed through pre-marital counseling.
It didn't matter that I had just learned his middle name a couple weeks before, we just knew that we were the perfect match. No problems in the future for us. (We were delusional.)
Just marital bliss and a lot of kids.
We decided not to cancel the wedding even when we found out that we each had a different number of kids in mind. He said four. I said six. Aside from being stubborn, I have no idea why I kept saying six. That was a random number mentioned one day in high school. I could have let that go anytime. And honestly, I didn't really like kids all that much. I did like the idea of being a mom, though.
Secretly, I sort of assumed we'd have two.
A boy and a girl.
I knew God would give me a little girl first.
A sweet, candy-smelling, pink-frilly dressed little girl.
God gave me boy.
A busy boy.
A boy that taught other kids lessons because on more than one occasion, I heard parents say, "Just because Zach is crawling under the table doesn't mean that you can too." "Just because Zach colored on the wall, doesn't mean that you should follow."
I just love being that parent.
I knew the girl was coming next.
One boy. One girl. My perfect little family.
God gave me another boy
A calm, obedient little boy who loved to sleep. (Amen.)
A brother to play with the busy firstborn.
Would have made sense to stop there.
We had our two.
But, we were young.
And by this point, I felt like a boy mom, so I knew the Lord was going to give us a houseful of boys.
And I loved the thought.
So, God gave me a girl.
She was a little more spunky than the boys. Had a little more attitude.
She wore dress-up high heels with her diaper hanging out to swim team every day in Las Vegas.
Typical Vegas girl. Or typical Vegas mom. You can hardly blame the two-year old for her attire.
So, I knew when we found out I was pregnant again that it would be a boy.
Because surely the Lord knew that I could only do one girl and I already had her.
So, God gave another girl.
A sister for the spunky one.
Kind of a high-maintenance little girl, but at least the girls had each other.
Two boys. Two girls.
Four. We hit my husband's number and we were complete.
Besides, four kids is a lot of work.
Saying you want a big family and running a big family are two very different entities.
There's a lot of food to make (ugghh), buns to wipe (yuck), and shoes to find (ahhhh).
It's a lot of schedules to oversee, tears to dry, and tempers to manage.
Four kids takes energy, patience, and time, time, time.
And we were maxed out on all of it.
Everyone in our family has their own memory of the night we told the four that they were going to have a new brother or sister.
It didn't go as well as we hoped.
Two of the kids were indifferent.
Number two son was excited.
Well, he holds my main memory of that night.
He was 10 and upon hearing the news, he threw his arms up in despair and exclaimed,
"Are you serious? We've already done this THREE other times. Come. On. People."
Firstborns often take a little more responsibility than they should and somehow he felt personally betrayed that "we" were doing this again to him.
Yep, we had ruined his life.
But something really cool happened with the entrance of Number Five.
The oldest was instantly smitten, as we all were, and our love for little Noah became the bridge bonding all our kiddos together.
Even when they didn't like each other all that much, they all LOVED NOAH.
Children are a blessing.
Number five blesses us all every day.
We can't imagine life without him.
He was absolutely, without a doubt, meant to be in our family.
A perfect end to the crew.
As Noah neared three last November, my official grieving of being done bearing children began.
Not that I thought we had the energy for another, but just the grieving of the closing of the door to a stage of life that I enjoyed very much.
Do all moms do that when they realize they've birthed their last?
Or just the overly-emotional type?
Mourn a little as they face the fact that their days of growing a child are over and it's all training from here on.
Knowing that every last that Noah had was really our last.
And we rocked him longer than the others.
And we studied him longer than the others.
And we held on to him a little longer than we did the others.
Because his last was our last.
And that's okay because there is always a last, but we just wanted to make the memory.
The grieving process had almost run its course.
We were tasting some new freedoms and realizing that this stage of life was going to have it's own list of joys and struggles, and they would also be precious years.
So we turned our eyes forward to what was ahead.
I would have probably been excited a year ago.
But now? I'll have a freshman and a newborn.
It doesn't get much weirder than that in my book.
I don't even know what that looks like.
Clearly, I won't be nursing at my freshman son's football games.
Can. You. Imagine?
He would disown us.
Anyway, it took me two weeks to get up the courage to take the test.
Another couple days to tell.
I prayed that God would fill me with joy, so that when I told people my voice wouldn't catch.
The joy didn't come immediately, so instead when we told people, we asked them to pray the joy would come.
Because I'm convinced that you should be excited about a blessing.
We delayed telling the kids a while.
We took them away for a couple days and planned to share the news while we were alone as a family.
One day went by...we decided it couldn't hurt to wait a little longer.
Let the kids have one more day before we rock their world.
Finally, time was ticking and it was the moment.
The moment when I was sure we were going to ruin their lives...or at least fully push the oldest over the edge.
They gathered around.
I had no problem at this moment submitting to my husband's lead.
"No, really Honey, you go ahead and tell the kids."
Had I not been so nervous, it might have been funny to watch him so carefully gathering his words.
We didn't plan out a speech. Maybe we should have because he began talking about Sarah and Abraham and how they were so old when they were given Isaac, but Isaac was their promised child.
We are old, but we aren't like a 100. Even though I feel like I'm a 100, we're several decades away from being THAT old. But, whatever.
Then he looked to me to add something.
Never put me on the spot. NEVER.
I can absolutely NOT think on my feet in stressful situations.
I expanded on his Abraham example, but then threw in there Ishmael and how God knit together even Ishmael, who was conceived by Hagar, his concubine.
Now, he's looking at me and frowning.
What? Ishmael? Why mention a concubine in this talk?
BECAUSE I CAN'T THINK ON MY FEET.
And I was flustered and down the road of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Ishmael we went.
If you could completely bomb the announcement of a new baby, WE HOLD THE AWARD!
Finally, this never-ending story needed to end, so he finally just blurted out,
"What we're trying to say is that we are having another baby."
We each held our breath.
The girls squealed and danced around, "We're having a baby. We're having a baby."
I expected that from them. They're girls. They love babies.
Noah just looked at us and kept playing with his cars. Nothing from him as expected.
Number two son maintained his cool. His eyes perked up a bit as he repeated, "Wait, we're having another baby? That's fun." Whew.
One more reaction left.
The oldest. The "Are you serious? We're doing this again!" child had yet to make a noise.
Was he holding back the flip out?
His confident little boy grin grew as he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I hope it's twins.I think it'd be really cool if we had twins."
Not at all what we expected.
"But you were so upset about Noah."
"That was because I had no idea how much fun it would be to have him. Now I know, and I hope it's twins."
Exhale. It's going to be okay.
And somehow, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about us having a sixth child because our children are excited. And if they are excited, that's all that matters to us.
I'm still praying for joy for myself.
Because God does not accidently knit.
And He doesn't choose a womb based on worth.
If you could read the years of testimony between the lines of Child 3 and Child 4, you would point your finger at us and say, "Surely the Lord will not add to this family anymore."
If I were God, I would have passed by my womb.
But He has some sort of a plan that is beyond our comprehension and He often blesses in the least worthy of all situations.
I don't understand why. It really makes no earthly sense.
But I'm trusting in His Sovereignty.
That Number Six belongs in our family because God knows something that we don't.
We haven't heard the heartbeat of Number Six yet.
It's too early.
We don't know if it's a boy or a girl or even if this little one will make it out of the womb.
But as of now, there will always be six to us.
That's a house full of children.
And I sense that this is the last time I'll grow a child.
There's always gotta be a last.
And let's face it, we are kind of old like Abraham and Sarah.
Really...I just want to be a mom. With a lot of kids.
That's what I want to be when I grow up.
Pre-med might have been an easier route...
But instead, God truly did have a big family in mind...
And He will equip us to raise Number Six...
To God be the glory...