I hold my littlest close; her legs dangle off of my lap and her arms wrap tightly around my neck as she squeezes and giggles. She's still small but no longer tiny. I exhale deeply and hold on tightly too, drawing out the moment for as long as possible.
I wonder if I will always feel a small ache when I gaze at wrinkly newborns. If I'll always wish that my body could have been a little kinder to me as I carried and birthed two babies into this world. After a traumatic experience with the birth of my first, two very difficult pregnancies and an emergency surgery in between, my husband and I knew that this was it—she was it—and we were blessed to even end up with her.
Nurturing and loving on my child—the sense of being so needed and loved—just feels so right. And I don't want it to end. She looks at me as if I hung the moon and sprinkled the sky with stars; yet it was she and her big sister who managed to light up the sky on my darkest nights.
Time and time again they've given me a reason when I struggled to find one. I've found this sense of purpose in the mothering of my babies; they are reminders of the good that their daddy and I have done in this world.
For so long I was happy and content with one child. And then we were given the most beautiful surprise and our hearts made room for another love. Nowadays the three of us couldn't imagine life without her. I was meant to be the mama of these two precious girls. But it's hard not to wonder what it would be like if there were three.
Part of me is afraid of a life that isn't filled with nurturing little ones. So many of my life's decisions have been shaped by this role I had the honor of taking on as I simultaneously stepped into adulthood years ago.
I'm letting go of an image that I created in my mind and standing in awe of the one being illustrated right before my eyes.
I'm scared of not being needed in a way that has felt like my calling. I haven't quite figured out who I am and want to be aside from motherhood. I've been so focused on trying to be the best mother I can be that I haven't put as much focus into becoming the best I can be at something else, at least not for long.
I know, childhood is only meant to last for a season, and I'm almost certain their childhood will be my favorite of all of life's seasons. Because of this, there's a small part of me who can't help but think that if we had just one more it wouldn't have to end just yet.
Life is a lot different now that I'm more seasoned. Yes, there are still trials and days when "adulting" feels immeasurably hard and days when I feel like I'm blowing this sweet motherhood gig, but I'm no longer in survival mode. I'm able to see the other side, to pause and linger in the sweeter moments, knowing all of them—the good and the bad—shall pass.
Still, I know that our family is complete. Once upon a time we dreamt of adopting, something our hearts continue to be open to, but I'm not sure my arms will ever hold a baby that is mine (one I adopted or one I gave birth to) again. Slowly but surely I'm coming to terms with that. I'm letting go of an image that I created in my mind and standing in awe of the one being illustrated right before my eyes.
So for now I will continue to dream—momentarily as I pass by the baby aisles in the store or my eyes catch the toothless grin of a darling baby. I will imagine what it would be like to have another car seat in the car, another chance to become an all-star swaddler. I will picture family dinners, every seat at our table full (I won't picture the never-ending laundry or multiple schedules to juggle). I will picture myself as a mama to many.
But I will also thank my lucky stars for my two sweet girls; the ones who have made motherhood so magical. I will thank my body for fighting and pressing through so that I might be a vessel used to carry and birth my daughters. They are the reasons that I would be so inclined to dream of giving it another go. Even in the most exhausting and trying moments I realize the gift it is to have carried these girls in my womb, later in my arms and forever in my heart.
Our table may not be full come dinnertime but our hearts are already full. For now, from time to time I will dream this bittersweet dream. And all the time I will thank God that my dream of being a mother came true two times over. This is real, my children are real, and this family—our family—is pieced together perfectly.