"Where is Isabel?" Matt asked me while we were washing dishes together last night.
"I have no idea" I replied.
Simultaneously we gave each other the same bittersweet look.
"It's nice, you know?" he continued.
"I know" I said.
And I knew we both understood exactly what the other one was thinking.
A few days ago we babysat the darling 1-year old of a dear friend. As we chased him around the house, we were both reminded of a time when we could not look away from our babies for fear they would stick their fingers into a socket, eat a leaf off the plastic tree, or pull the dog's tail too harshly. We were always "on."
Now we are at a point in our lives when we don't have to know where in the house our kids are at all times. They can run their own bath, pick out their own clothes, fix their own breakfast! And we no longer worry when the house is filled with silence. It is welcomed rather than ominous.
But I'm still learning to accept all this.
For a long time I had a puzzle piece dated January 2011 hidden in my wallet. It resulted from a sermon Matt preached in which he asked us to write an unfulfilled dream, the missing piece in our life, and give it to the Lord to handle. Mine just said: baby. I am an only child and I always knew I wanted more than one kid. Once I became a mom for the first time I realized I really wanted six but I was alone on that one, so we settled for three. At the time of that sermon, we had already been blessed with two.
They say women just know when they are done having babies. I have found this to be true. I have friends who are not finished after ten babies. Others have said "enough" with one in each arm. For me, three was my number. So when Matt preached that sermon I had been ready for our last addition really since the day I held my first baby in my arms.
I gave my little puzzle piece to God that Sunday and asked Him to either take my desire for another baby away or fulfill it once and for all. In the years that followed we felt led to pursue medically assisted conception once and two international adoptions, all to no avail. Yet each time we felt guided by the Lord to continue on the journey. Doors opened and "coincidences" happened. We knew we were walking the right paths but at the end of each one, there was no child.
I learned through this time that God asks us for obedience and He measures success in our willingness, not on the results. We did as He commanded us to do and we walked down the roads He set before us. And we grew and learned and changed with every seeming "failure."
Through these years God has grown my gratitude for the two babies that I have. He has shown me the important job I have in raising them. He has taught me a thousand different lessons about being a mom of these two littles. And He has reminded me that we are in a sweet spot in our lives and that this is just not the right time to add to our family.
God never did take away my desire for another child. At least not completely. He just peppered with a heavy dose of contentment. I no longer ache for another baby today, right this minute, ASAP. But we are not saying "no" to the future. We go around the sun too many times to say never. I don't know what our family will look like tomorrow. I just know Matt and I are not finished with little tykes, somehow.
Even in a small way, I feel like Paul with the thorn in his flesh, and like Paul, I have not been freed from my "thorn". I have just been given peace and a reminder that God is sufficient for me. To be honest, I have days when I still don't understand and my momma-heart hurts, but He has asked me to trust him daily because He knows the desires of my heart and, like a loving Father, He would grant them if they were good for me.