On May 1, 2012, my life changed forever. Again.
My third baby was born.
Emerald was long hoped for. After multiple miscarriages, I was beginning to resign myself to the reality that I may not have any more children. But, then she arrived.
And, I really thought that I was beginning to have motherhood figured out. After all, I had gotten two other human beings from birth to eight and four years old, and I was actually sort feeling smug about my mothering abilities. I was a confident mother. I felt competent. I felt like I was in control of things. I was sure that when this third little doll arrived that I would whip her into shape, get her on a schedule, lug her around in a sling, and go on with life.
But, then she arrived. And she cried a lot. She wanted to be held twenty-four hours a day. Two other children still needed me just as much as before her arrival. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure. I felt weak. I felt like everything I knew about mothering flew away about a week into her life.
I don’t know what it is about that third child. For me, it was like starting over. It was just as shocking as having the first one. Life changed in every possible way, and I wasn’t prepared for that change. My two other children were older. We were way done with diapers and pacis and not being able to go to the movies. Plus, there was now a serious math problem: my two hands + three children = not enough hands.
And, believe it or not, I had to start over as a mother. I had to relearn why we do what we do. I was back to that first really hard square of giving yourself out for someone who can’t give anything back.
Then, in no time at all, she learned to look for my face when I spoke. She learned to smile. She learned to get that chubby little fist to her mouth. And, I watched her in amazement, and I remembered that it is a privilege, a trying and challenging and exhausting privilege, to be given one of these little souls to love and nurture. And I put her on my shoulder, our faces touching, and her little baby gurgles in my ear took me back to other precious moments with my babies. And I put my hand on her tiny back and it stretched all the way across. I paused to consciously consider how small she felt under my hand, and I vowed to remember that for the rest of my life.
When Emerald turned my mothering on its head, I turned to the only place that I could. To my God. And, for one of the first times in my life, there wasn’t an ounce of pride or confidence or self-reliance in me. I was empty. And He showed me what it’s like to depend on Him.
All of my kids’ arrivals left unique marks on my spirit. But, when Emerald was born, God gave me what I desperately wanted and then He showed me what it is to be desperate for Him.
It’s amazing what a difference one little life can make.
I thank God for the third baby, the wild card, the one I knew I wanted but never understood how much I needed. She is loved.