Life is funny in the way it works sometimes. Or perhaps I should mention that it's funny how God leaves out little bread crumbs for us that lead us to bigger realizations.
A few posts back I wrote about the clothes in the attic that were staring me in the face - a visual reminder of the second baby that probably wasn't going to happen. When I wrote those words, I pretty much knew that Craig and I were done having children, but saying that out loud is, for whatever reason, much tougher than silent acknowledgement between two parents. So even though I knew the direction our life was headed, I was still afraid to get rid of the clothes because those baby clothes hold intense memories of joy, frustration, exhaustion and of a pure miracle.
The light pink sleeper that she wore her first night home. My mother and I swaddled her together, placed her in the bassinet and stared, both of us giddy and emotional from the presence of the next generation of women in our family.
Her first pair of tennis shoes, given to her by one of my closest friends and my former coaching buddy. The first in a large collection that is filled with Converse and Nike - the kinds of shoes which also fill my closet as well.
The coming home outfit I bought in 0-3 month size, thinking it would fit a newborn but in reality it was much too big. My abnormal and agitated reaction to dressing her in an ill-fitting coming home outfit was the first sign of darker things to come. I felt like a huge mothering failure for not picking the "right" coming home outfit. Three years later, this seems utterly ridiculous but at the time it was SO. DAMN. IMPORTANT. (And now, I'm just happy if she is dressed in semi-appropriate clothes.)
Birthing a baby and then making it through the first year was no small feat for me. There were day days and long nights. Lots of tears, fears, struggles and fights. So I can't just toss the clothes in a bag and take them to the Goodwill. Getting rid of this baby stuff, for me at least, has to be done in a way that is healing and peaceful.
So yesterday as I was standing in the hall, catching up with the new (pregnant) volleyball coach, I felt a sort of calm come over me and before I knew it, the words "I have a ton of baby stuff for you" came out of my mouth. And it's true. I've got loads of toys barely used and clothes hardly worn. Clothes that need to go and snuggle another precious baby girl...just not one that I give birth to.
But more than that, in the small moment where we stood in the hall discussing different aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, I felt at peace with our decision for only having our only. Having one child doesn't make me any less of a mother than my friends with four. It doesn't discount the hours I spent cuddling a sick little girl, worrying about her safety or praying for her future. I wanted to be a mother and have a family and I DO. A family doesn't have to match certain specs of size and numbers...a family is defined by the love shown and shared with one another. And sure, in our family two of the people sharing and showing love just happen to have four legs and a tail...but there is love between the five of us and just like there is grace and forgiveness, gratitude and faith.
As I re-folded and packed all the baby clothes away in the container to haul up to school this morning, I smiled wistfully as I glanced at my own baby, so big and independent at almost-three. I prayed for the new little sweet girl who will inherit these clothes, prayed for a healthy pregnancy and smooth transition to motherhood for her momma. But mostly, I thanked God for the girl he gave me and the peace I have with our decision.