I'll start this blog with a weird type of confession....whenever I see someone with more kiddos than I have...(Yes, they exist. I have two friends who just welcomed baby #12 to their families...) I always have this fleeting thought "Wow...wonder what it' like with THAT many people..." like...I don't already know. Like I don't already have that same dynamic and people don't think that about our family. You see, more than two seems like a LOT and not just in terms of the practical things like food, clothes and housing, but interaction. Can you really KNOW that many people as well as you'd want considering what relationship you're forming here....that between a parent and a child? I asked those questions of myself a million times and to be honest, I still do. Every little (or big...dude, my son and my 12 year old daughter are now people I look UP to, literally!) person in this house is very well known. What do I mean? I mean I know who they are, inside and out.....like I REALLY know them, like you would KNOW your best friend and quite honestly, that's my what children are...my very best friends, although I do realize as the Mom I can't always be the 'buddy...' but true friendship where there is a mutual respect, love and desire for the other's well being.....that's what we have.
But there comes a time in the existence of each of my children when I start to wonder "Will I know you....like I know the others...." That time is now. I have about five weeks left before I meet this new little guy who is already a part of our family in very practical ways. He has two baby swings set up, one upstairs and one down and a bassinet (you know, for holding all his clothes and diapers...and the five seconds I'll use it for a bathroom break...)....and a dresser full of clothes and three (or rather 2.5) crochet blankets and paraben free baby soap...He's all around the house. He has a name. He has a whole bunch of family action items scheduled around his arrival and a whole welcome wagon ready to greet him on his first day here. He has a paternity leave approval waiting for his birthday and even "I can knit this totally sleep deprived" projects ready for those first couple weeks when I'll be technically awake, but not...and since I always have yarn in my hands when I'm sitting I'll most certainly be knitting. He has a Snapfish folder ready for his first pictures, even!!
But then I look at Emory and think....she's the baby. As I've looked at all my children and thought "You...will be a BIG sibling??? HOW??? You are SO little and so precious and so cute and how on earth could this baby be THE BABY when YOU are THE BABY...." Then....the new baby comes and all the sudden "the baby" becomes this ginormous, awkward toddler type person who is such a PERSON and is so incredibly ready to jump up a notch on the family ladder....I just didn't see it. There's never been a displacement because all our children have been adored, cherished and wanted from the very beginning (or before...even when they are a vague idea of maybe, they are wanted). There's never once been a moment of jealousy because our children know, without a doubt, this baby is OURS. Not mine. Not Dad's, but ours. (Okay, word of wisdom here...if you are reading this and have ever considered a large family or large spacing...be very aware here....the baby is SPOILED. My older three children practically worship the almost two year old and I did NOT see that coming. They take her picture more than I do, it seems....record her on their mobile devices and actively seek her out during the day....it's still a bit bizarre for me and I wonder what life is like for her....having all these big people to love on her....She is very, very blessed).
For the past few months, as we've all gathered around as we do in the evenings (Bible study, checking in, lectures, planning meetings...it's necessary) something has felt off. I look around, tick off that all the kids are here, get to Emory....and feel like someone is just MISSING. It's the weirdest thing, but I suppose....it's explainable? I don't know. I've heard many women just KNOW they were "done"....that their family was complete and I am in awe. I always wonder what that feels like. To just know....because I never have. I honestly have no idea how many children will round out our family and make it complete....or what that even looks like, but the thought that there are still children in our family's story that aren't here yet both intrigues and baffles me. I think of this new baby, almost here, and think "Wow...another boy. Will he be like Noah? Kyle? Eli? " and "Wow...another one...to teach to read and use the proper receptacle for all things potty...and tie his shoes...." and it just amazes me. Who will this PERSON be?" It's just crazy. I lay awake at night and wonder how I'll feel and if this will be the one baby that I won't KNOW and won't like me and won't have that immediate feeling of "You are mine" with...but after 8 babies...that's never, ever happened.
I always know the baby like I've always known them. Within a few days it's like I can't remember life without them. Even though there is plenty of photographic evidence of things we've done before this baby....years and years back....it's like the promise of them has always been there. That they existed in some way before we even knew they would. This child, another little incarnation of Jamie and I....isn't strange, or new even...just.....part of us.
As little as they come..as furiously as they arrive, screaming, minutes, then hours old...I can confidently say when it comes to birthing my babies, I've never once met a stranger ;)