Dear Lillian and Levi,
I never wanted kids. The ideas of sleepless nights and wiping butts, mashed potatoes smeared on the walls and toddler tantrums just didn't add up to something I felt called to do. Don't get me wrong -- I like kids. Other people's kids. For a short amount of time. When I was a teenager, I would babysit because kids seemed to like me. I guess I liked them when I was younger. But as I got older, the idea of being a mother didn't resonate with me. It wasn't even that I wanted to be some high-powered career woman.
I just didn't want to be a mom.
Then, one afternoon, after throwing up for the last half of a vacation with Daddy, I took a pregnancy test "just to rule out" the possibility that I was pregnant.
Those two pink lines changed my life forever.
When your Dad came home that night from work, I said, "So I have some good news and bad news. Which do you want first?"
"...the good news..."
It turns out that's not a good way to tell your husband you're pregnant. I found out later he was freaked out about what the "bad news" was. Was it someone else's kid? Was there something wrong with the baby? I was just going to give him the same answer regardless of his response. Lillian, don't do what I did. Levi, if your wife does this to you, love her anyway. She has many other wonderful qualities, even if tact isn't one of them.
That night we talked and cried and ultimately came to the conclusion that if God wanted us to have a baby, then we were going to have a baby. If He trusted us, then we would trust Him.
In that moment, I had no idea how much I would have to trust Him.
Levi, your story is a bit less dramatic. I was lying in bed when your sister was barely 3 months old, and something inside of me said, "Take a pregnancy test." Sure enough -- two more pink lines. You were born 10 days before your sister's first birthday. I guess that is a bit dramatic. At least it was for my poor woman parts.
I want to strive to be honest with both of you, regardless of how awkward a conversation may be, which is why I'm telling you all this. I want you to know why your mom may appear to have more struggles than your friends' moms. It's because I started off on this journey without a map. Other moms had their courses plotted out. They had read books and held babies. I looked at babies from afar as though pregnancy was contagious. I wasn't prepared for motherhood the way those who make plans to have children are. I was thrown into the deep end of the pool, and, let me tell you, parenthood is a very, very deep pool.
All that being said, I want you to know that you two are the fourth and fifth best things ever to happen to me. The list goes like this:
- Being born.
- Jesus' love and sacrifice and His relationship with me.
- Your father, who saved me from the cynical, sarcastic, angry, and sad person I was on my way to becoming.
Levi, you're only second because you were born second. I love you just the same. Well, sometimes when you throw a tantrum that rivals that of any angsty teenager, I think I love you a little less, but I really don't. I promise.
You have given me a greater purpose to get up every morning than any other job could ever give. And it's not just because you two are very loud and demanding in the morning and I get out of bed just so you guys quiet down. It's because I look at you two and I see opportunities.
You offer me the opportunity to love selflessly. You give me a tangible way to get over myself and my baggage and focus on loving the crap out of you. Because of you, I am learning to control my temper, to breathe deeply, to put events and circumstances into perspective. There were nights when I thought, "They're never going to sleep through the night. I'm never going to get a full night's sleep. Ever." Talk about exaggeration, right? Now, given, I think I've had about seven full nights of sleep since you two were born, but that's seven more than my anxious, selfish brain thought I would get.
You two have also taught me a very important lesson. The most important lesson.
You have taught me to love myself.
You don't judge me because I stayed in my yoga pants all day or haven't showered in a week. You don't think I'm a failure because I burned dinner or didn't vacuum. When I discipline you, once the tears are gone and we've hugged it out, you're smiling and laughing as though nothing happened. You don't hold grudges. You don't hate me.
Your simple, untamed love has taught me to give myself the grace I give you. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you both for that lesson. Through your love for me, I am learning to love myself.
I'm so thankful for both of you, my pink line surprises. You two have my heart and my lifelong gratitude.