Category Archive: Livia
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
We’re hamster-sitting and Livia is in heaven. Our mouse—Dash—isn’t allowed out after the Escaping Act of 2016, so Liv is super happy to be a hands-on rodent sitter for our friends. Shiloh seems utterly perplexed why we’d keep more delightfully stinky vermin in cages instead of letting him chase them. I, too, am stymied by what our lives have become.
Just another day in the life of Dr. Dolittle’s Mama. Note: Dr. Dolittle also likes chocolate chip cookies. Can ya tell?
Sometimes my love for her feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. I want to give her all the ice cream cones in the world—even the ones that fall apart like this one—and wrap her in clouds and tuck her in a treasure chest to keep her safe and close to me forever. That’s what I’m feeling the most, these days that are fleeting. Sixth grade will turn into 9th will turn into 12th. I know enough to know that these years will sweep by. And then there are the moments that are so aggravating you want to rip out your hair. Thank the Lord they’re mixed up with this crazy huge parental love. It leaves me breathless, all the feelings.
I’m so grateful to be this person’s mom. Like I tell her, she is my heart. And then she reminds me, “Isn’t Dad your heart, too?” Yes, yes he is. That’s how being a family works—we are each other’s hearts.
I’ve often thought that God made babies so darn cute so that their parents continue to take good care of them. I’ll never forget holding our first foster baby from 3-6:00am one night, her giant brown eyes following me in the dark, and my two competing thoughts were, “WHY AREN’T YOU ASLEEP?” and “Gosh darn it, you are SO CUTE.” The world tends to adore babies, and when you’re up in the night for three hours straight with a newborn, those compliments you receive on social media might be the only thing keeping you going. Well, that and coffee. But babies grow. The compliments fade. And eventually you have a kid with gawky teeth who is taking awkward school pictures that even retake day can’t fix. Everyone loves a baby, but not so much the elementary kid whose has teeth five times too large for his mouth. Mama, Grandma and your BFF still love that one.
I don’t get asked childrearing questions very often anymore and I think it’s because I have one child who is now 12. Oh, and maybe it’s because I do a lot of my living alongside someone who blogs about parenting. She’s a professional question-answerer so that makes sense. A lot of my parenting experience, however, is hidden and no one can see it. I did the math recently and realized that if God had answered many of my desires for children with “yes’s” rather than “no’s” Jeremy and I would have six children. One privately adopted, one biological, and the final four adopted from foster care. For sure we still have those six in our hearts, with only the first one being the child God has given us to raise for good.
Our plans, as hopeful as they were, didn’t turn into our reality. I’m still coming to terms with this truth. I allow little daggers to enter my heart, to pierce those old desires and entice me to “what if’s” and “if only’s.” I let the memes and defensive lines from large families hurt my soul. I wanted to be one of those large families. I read about people who have more children because they value sibling relationships greatly, and I struggle to not to be filled with regret. As capable as I am, providing a sibling for Livia was not something I could arrange. I hear jokes about only children, about how spoiled they are, and allow these asides to fill me with irritation. I didn’t plan on one, I want to shout. I had hoped for more.
There was Livia. And a baby miscarried. And a very temporary foster daughter. Two foster sons gone home by a judge’s changed orders. And a beloved foster baby reunified with his beautiful family. Six total.
But that’s only the six that reside most deeply in our hearts. There were more.
There was the baby boy we got incredibly close to adopting, only to have his parents choose the other couple. There was the teenager we prayed over, raised in absolutely horrific conditions who, in the end, required much more than we could give. There was the toddler we spent the day with a small town nearby, the one we bought a stuffed animal for and fed Runza fries to, the one given to another family within 24 hours of coming to live with us permanently. There was the three year old girl who needed a family, the one who the state placed elsewhere with no reason whatsoever given to us. And in between those cases there were calls upon calls with hours upon hours of waiting for information, prayers of all kinds being raised up for wisdom and perfect timing.
So when I read a meme supporting large families or see beautiful pictures of siblings loving one another, I think of our story and have to draw a conclusion. Here is the one I’ve settled on:
God has created my family. And he is pleased to give me one child.
One daughter. One twelve year old now in middle school. No siblings older than her, and no siblings younger. But this is our one, and she is enough. I felt God asking me that question, the question of, “What will satisfy you?”
“Will another child make you content?”
“Why is one not enough?”
“When will you be satisfied?”
In my tears and sadness I had to admit that one is enough. ONE IS ENOUGH. Though I’ve been a mother to many and will carry them forever in my heart, one is what he’s given to me to care for daily and that. is. enough.
We all have different stories and no two stories are the same. No one’s story can be read entirely via a Facebook status or a picture on Instagram. We all have hurts and we all have joys, and to compare our stories will never bring us satisfaction. At the end of the day I cling to God’s promises and the knowledge I have of his character. He is good, he provides for ALL my needs, he is never asleep on the job, and I will only find my hope and joy in him. Not in babies, as cute as they are, and not in big kids in all their awkward glory. No job can complete my spirit, no spouse is perfect like God, no amount of travel or fine dining or hobbies or education can ever fill up my heart. It’s a real challenge to keep my eyes on the Lord and trust him, but that’s the goal, that’s MY goal, and He is where my soul will always be refreshed.
**Note: Each image above represents one of the other children God has given Jeremy and me, for short periods of time. I carried a baby in my womb to the Grand Canyon upon our visit to Arizona. I remember getting carsick as we drove mountain paths and more than once I chose vegetables over french fries even though that was not my norm. I now feel incredibly grateful for such an eventful short pregnancy as I recall the little life I carried at that time.
The black and white image shows Livia with her first foster sister. What a joy she was even as I was stretched by sleeplessness! The second photo shows Jeremy and one of the little boys we had the privilege to love for five weeks. We anticipated a much longer journey with them, and I believe this image was captured the night before they went home. It was a stunning departure. The final image shows Livia and me on a train ride with our last foster baby. This little guy had lots of people in his life who adored him and we got to walk through that experience with his family, which was a privilege all its own. I still count his reunification as a huge joy.
Reading your sixth grader’s baby book the night before middle school starts is a surefire way to conjure up feelings of MY BABY IS GROWING UP SO FAST! As I looked at all the number sixes in chalk on my driveway, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how grown up Livia is now. I’m so very proud of my smart and beautiful kid. She’s a remarkable person and I’m excited for her adventures in middle school to begin today. She is ready—look out, world!
Father God, bless Livia and all the other kiddos starting school today. Remind them you go with them all day long, that you care about things both big and small. Give them courage and excitement and deep peace where there’s anxiety. Fill their hearts with compassion, kindness and joy for each other and a passion for learning. Make this day a good one, Father! In Jesus’ name, amen.
PS: And Lord, thank you for the Moreheads who love Livia well year after year. She knows now about the “surprise” on the driveway and anticipates the celebratory words in advance. What a sweet gift to have friends that love your child. Amen.
Updated to add links to all first day shots!
We figured out the math this morning. I’ve got to say, this kid is my favorite kid in the whole wide world. She’s fun-loving, compassionate and beautiful. I’m proud of her.