Why Dishes Are Still In My Sink

I didn’t finish my dishes tonight. I love when they are finished. Because I can come down to clean kitchen the next morning, brew my coffee and start the day fresh.

But I didn’t finish them tonight. Half are still soaking in the sink. With food stuck to the plates. And BBQ sauce sticking to my crockpot.

Tomorrow I will go downstairs to a messy kitchen. I will have to stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the drain. (Something I hate doing.) And I will have to start my day doing the dishes I didn’t do tonight.

But do you know what I DID do tonight?

I popped popcorn on the stove with my daughter Selah, who is 4-years-old. Because she wanted to have a “fun” night. All week she kept saying she wanted to have a “fun” night where we popped popcorn and watched a movie and danced to music.

So I decided tonight was going to be the “fun” night.

And it really was.

She stood on the counter as the popcorn popped on the stove. And she laughed hysterically, the whole time, at every single kernel as it popped. It wasn’t really that funny, but it was “fun” night, so I joined her in forced laughter for five straight minutes.

We started the movie, “Because Of Win-Dixie,” and sat together on the floor holding our big bowl of popcorn.

And she fed me.

Every couple handfuls of popcorn that went into her mouth, she would pick up a piece and put it carefully to my mouth. But there was so much love in her eyes.

I obliged.

After all, it was the “fun” night.

So, we took turns feeding each other. The movie played on and there we were looking like two newlyweds at their wedding reception, but instead of feeding each other cake, it was popcorn. And we couldn’t stop laughing.

And she put her arm around me. And I didn’t want to leave her side.

The dishes were calling me.

But tonight, I just stayed. I just sat by her side, and watched the movie all the way through.

She put princess stickers on my shirt. Carefully, one by one.

And…

She told me she loved me.

And it felt good. To just fully give myself to her.

For once.

To breathe in her sweet scent. .

I remember the first time I smelled her. The snowy night she was born, when they laid her slippery little body on my chest. And I wrapped my frail, shaky arms around her. And all at once, I loved her. All of me, loved all of her.

And an avalanche happened in my heart.

Of love.

Baby girl. 

Come back. 

She’s not a baby anymore. She’s four.

But on nights like this. When we’re wrapped in eachother’s arms. She is mine, and I am hers.

And there’s nothing more sacred, more holy, then these moments with her. Getting low and laying on the carpet.

Feeding each other popcorn.

And laughing at all the funny parts.

Because it’s “fun” night.

And I love her.

And by some miracle, she loves me.

With a love more tender, and kind, and gentle, than I am worthy of.

With stickers.

And popcorn.

And her tiny arm tightly around me.

Because tonight, there was this moment when I looked over at her laughing, and I was laughing, and just for a moment she felt more like sister, than my daughter. Like my friend.

And I’m going to remember this, tomorrow morning. When I wake up and go downstairs. And stick my hand in the cold water and unplug the kitchen sink. Because I’ll be wondering why I didn’t choose the dishes.

 

And I know, moms, we can’t spend ALL our days playing with our kids. Our houses would eventually collapse in a pile of rubble.

But let’s be honest, how much time do we actually spend playing with our kids?

(Without our phone handy, so we can space out on Facebook…which is what I usually do.)

I don’t play with my daughter enough.

Tonight, though, for a change, I just needed to “clock-out” from being Susie Homemaker. Because there are always dishes in the sink. There’s always one more thing to do.

And it’s always something important.

(To me.)

 

But she’s important, too. And it’s more important to her, that I lay on the floor, and let her feed me popcorn, and cover my shirt with stickers.

Tomorrow, I’m going to trip over the pillows on the living room floor.

And I’ll be sure to find some stray popcorn kernals on the stove.

And yes, I’ll reach into that nasty cold sink water.

But she’s the reason my dishes are still in the sink. 

My daughter.

My sister. 

My friend. 

When You Want To Give Your Child A Sibling, But You Can’t

selahonstreet

I heard her crying upstairs in her bed, and went up to check up on her.

“What’s wrong, honey?” I asked.

I thought she was going to say she had a bad dream.

Or that she needed a night-light on.

Or she had to go potty.

But what she said next, nearly took my breath away…

“I want a sister,” she said.

My heart felt a deep piercing.

“What?” I asked, making sure I heard her right.

“I want,” she said through sobs, “a sister,” she said.

My heart burned. I sat down on her bed and pulled her close to my chest. “Oh, honey,” I tried to comfort her cries. But now tears filled my eyes, too. Tears from this deep hidden place inside me, that I kept trying to bury down. But that night, they came.

We sat in the dark of her room, holding each other, and I watched December snow fall outside her window. And I wondered what she had seen in her dreams.

That made her wake like this.

We never talked about siblings. Though I guess she was old enough to notice, all her cousins had brothers, or sisters. And I didn’t know what to say.

It was a beautiful desire—that suddenly felt too real, and too sacred to dismiss with a simple drink of water and pat on the head.

My husband and I had already been trying for two years…to have another baby. To give her a sibling.

And we couldn’t.

But as I held her and felt her little heart beating against me, these words just came out:

“I can’t give you a sister,” I said, “But you can ask God.”

You can ask God.

I didn’t know what He would do. Or how He would answer. But under the glow of green stars shining on the ceiling from her pillow pet, she asked Him. For a sister.

Or a brother.

With more faith in her young, little heart, than I had mine.

She asked Him. So simply. And put it in His hands.

The only hands,

that can form life.

***

Sometimes you want to give your child a sibling…

But you can’t. 

Since my daughter was born, I have heard so many moms say that the “perfect” age gap between kids is “two years.” (That way they’ll grow up to be best friends, and you’ll get through the diaper stage all at once, and they won’t be spoiled, etc.)

But sometimes you can’t make “perfect” happen. Even though you want to. Even though you want to give this wonderful gift to your child.

And you can feel anxious as you “try,” because every day you are getting older. And your child is getting older. And that gap between your child and any future sibling is getting wider and wider.

People ask you, “Do you want more kids?”

Or, “When are you gonna have another one?”

And you are left fumbling for words.

Because how do you express in a sentence (and often to a stranger) that you don’t get to choose how many kids you have? Or the time in which you will have them? And that when you have a baby…it’s because, and only because, God has done an incredible, unexplainable miracle in you?

I don’t really know what you can do about it.

But…

You can ask God.

Because He will answer you. 

In His time. And in His way.

***

Just four months after Selah prayed for a sibling in her room last December–God did yet another miracle in me. Even though I was faithless; He proved Himself faithful.  And as surely as I write this, I feel the kicks of a baby boy inside me, who I had no idea was coming to us all along. This December.

And I’m in awe of a God who gives life. In His own perfect time. And His own perfect way.

To an outsider, it may not look “perfect.” Selah and her sibling won’t have a perfect 2-year age gap. They’ll be four years apart.

And Selah’s not getting a sister, she’s getting a brother.

It’s not the tidy advice I read in the baby magazines…

But somehow…it’s still perfect.

Perfect for one reason only: it’s God’s plan for us.

***

Dear One, trying to conceive another child…

Who decides what is “perfect?”

Who decides how old you should be when you have a baby? Or adopt a baby? Or foster a baby?

Who decides, how many months or years they are apart? Or what genders they should be?

Who decides if you will have one, or two, or more?

Is it not God?

Is it not the Maker and Giver of all life?

The Holy One…who is perfect in all of His ways?

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30

His way is perfect.

***

I just want to say that while I was missing all the deadlines for “perfectly” spaced children…while I was failing to conceive…and while my body wasn’t doing what it was “supposed” to…

Something beautiful was happening.

With this beautiful gift we named “Selah.”

God was giving me time with her.

And time is a very precious thing, when you get to spend it with a long-awaited miracle.

I was given time–to spend holding her on my chest, and breathing in her scent, and slow dancing in the moonlight to lullabies. I was given time to build forts, and bake cookies, and fall asleep with her for her nap.

And these were some of the best years of my life.

And I say this with tears…

I would not trade them for anything.

And perhaps “secondary infertility” wasn’t a curse, but was instead a wonderful blessing?

***

I don’t know what God has planned for you and your family. I don’t know if He will give you more babies, or not. I don’t know if they will be 18 months apart…or 18 years apart. Or if they will come through your womb, or through adoption, or foster care.

But one thing you can be sure of, whatever it is…

It will be perfect.

It may not feel perfect at the time. It may not look perfect to anyone around you.

But I assure you: it will be perfect.

Not because it’s your way. Or anyone else’s way.

But because it’s God’s way. 

And His way is perfect. 

“As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30


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