Just when I think to myself, "well that's the last Valentine shoebox I'll ever have to help with again" I'm reminded we have a fourth child. One that has barely begun to accomplish all her "firsts" in life. There's sippy cups to relinquish, bikes to learn to ride, Kindergarten graduations to be had. We are not even close to finishing this race, and believe it or not, I'm so very glad.
I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I take my eyes off of what is most important in this world and begin to imagine doing all the things my friends are doing. Lunch and shopping on a day off. Climbing a 14er. A weekend get-a-way. Date night. I see all the fun others are having now that their kids have reached the stage of life where they aren't always on the verge of breaking something valuable, such as their own arms and legs. Their kids are moving on a bit, spending as much time with friends as possible, while the highlight of my day is putting my baby girl down for a nap. I envy my friends, when I am spent and my vision has become blurry.
Tonight, right before I helped Will glue his "robot Valentine box" all together, I spent some time with Little Sass before putting her down for bed. She bathed and sang, pranced and cuddled, and when it was time to lay down, she prayed and gave me hugs. She has only been in my arms for 11 months but I love this little girl deeply. She has and is teaching me what it means all over again to sacrifice. All six of us are learning this lesson, as the months together have almost become a year. Even Little Sass has learned what it means to let someone love her, to allow someone else to have a turn, and how sometimes we have to just sit and read quietly when our siblings are knee deep in homework. We are six strong, learning together, what it means to lay down our lives for one another.
Little Sass turned 3 on Sunday and oh what a day she had. First thing in the morning, we all ran to her room as she woke up in order to not miss one second of making her feel special. Jack, who is 15, was there in spirit, however as he is full-throttle teenage mode we knew it was better to just let him sleep through the gaiety. She was almost startled by the excitement as Billy carried her down the stairs to see what was waiting to greet her. At the bottom of the stairs were two ginormous cut out cardboard characters from the movie Frozen waiting for her approval with shouts of delight. There were no "hoorays". In fact the silence was defeaning. She wasn't sure what to think. Thankfully it didn't take long for her to love Anna and Else, and Olaf and Sven. She hugged them and talked to them all day long.
And if that wasn't enough to make a 3 year old little girl's dreams come true, later that day we had a party with her two special friends and their families. Poor Little Sass had a birthday potato, while we ate pizza, however, there was chocolate cake made special just for her. While it might not be something you and I think tastes great, she did and that was all that mattered. She hugged me while eating it and said, "thank you Mommy for making my cake".
Feel free to ask us to explain how it all works, bringing a child of 2 years into a home that was already beyond complete. Ask us how we all felt the very first night we met her and drove away feeling like she was supposed to come home with us right then and there. How, in unison, we all agreed, "yep, we need her in our family". Let us tell you how, in that just over 11 months, she's filled this home with surprise, laughter, tears, and acceptance. Every single one of us has had to decide at some point along this journey if we were really in this 100%, or just going to get by. We are in no way near the end of this challenge, but we are steps closer as we watch her grow up and become fully who her Creator has made her to be.
Our explanation of adoption will be full of stories and truth, how it hasn't been easy every step of the way. We won't sugar coat it to make us look like we have it all together. Most days we don't. When it comes right down to it, there are two reasons we chose to adopt. 1. Our Father in heaven adopted us into His family when we acknowledged Him for Who He is. And 2. The same Father that adopted us, gives us an abundance of His love and strength and that is what makes it possible to open our arms to someone else, and learn to love them as if they were our very own flesh and blood. In the end it has very little to do with us, and very much to do with Him.
Two weeks from now, our family will stand before a judge and declare our intentions to adopt this precious gift into our lives forever. We will pledge to care for her as if she came directly from our own bloodline. We will declare her new name, and celebrate again this wonderful mystery of adoption.
"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, O Lord, is everlasting. Do not forsake the work of Your hands." Psalm 138:8