With this year's Christmas over, and a new year about to begin, I've gotten into my annual planning, cleaning, goal-setting, and de-cluttering mode. On my mind today--the fact that we are with thanksgiving, "expecting" once again--this time via paperwork and several airplanes. This got me thinking, and smiling, about how different it is to be expecting at this stage of parenthood.
With our first baby, the whole, new, blessed World of Baby had opened up. In addition to learning about pregnancy, we read all about new baby care and baby gear. What things would we need? We eagerly questioned seasoned parents, made lists, and went on shopping trips. Cribs, highchairs, strollers, car seats, Boppy pillows, pumps, bibs, baby clothes--we needed it all, and obtaining the gear was definitely a focus in preparing for baby.
While expecting babies #2 and #3, the focus of preparation was quite different. We had our stash of baby basics, and the name of the game was replacing what was worn-out, and finding a few, fun, new things. With #2, we acquired a second crib, which also came in handy when #3 was coming along. In each of these cases, we also needed to do some switching around of bedrooms, sending the newly-usurped, baby-now-toddler into a downstairs bedroom to open up the upstairs nursery for the newborn. This, of course, was a fairly big deal...or at least it seemed like it back then. As mama, I felt a little sadness over the toddler's deportation. This was quickly abated by the satisfaction given to my nesting instinct, however!
Those of you who have known us for awhile, probably know we thought we were "done" at that point. (HA! That is such a funny thought now!) Three sons filled the three extra bedrooms in our home. As baby #3 grew into a pre-schooler, I tearily cleaned out the nursery. We sold the cribs; in fact, we gave away or sold nearly everything "baby." We sent our preschooler downstairs to share bunk beds in a room with a brother, and enjoyed the novelty of a bedroom-turned-school room for some time. Soon we packed all three of the boys into the same bedroom so that, wonder of wonders, we could have TWO extra rooms. Right around that time, we received the gift of an unexpected blessing--son #4 growing inside, biding his time until joining in on the fun that is Boyland!
With #4 on the way, we needed to re-acquire the baby stuff. This time, however, we were pretty choosey about what we wanted to bring into the house. It had to be necessary. It had to be SMALL. We did not want fifteen musical toys, nor did we want most of the baby bells & whistles. There just wasn't room. It became apparent that the three growing boys who shared a bedroom were packed in there fairly tight with all their stuff. Also, bedtime was becoming...interesting....with all the goofiness and banging and clanging. What was going on? Were we lenient parents with undisciplined children? No. I've actually been coined a "tough mom" and just recently found out that the exuberant children are intentionally placed in my Vacation Bible School class.
We serve an awesome God. He gives gifts how and when He chooses, and I'm so glad He does. Suddenly we found ourselves beginning our adoption process AND becoming pregnant with son #5! Preparation for #5 became all about logistics. How will we fit the boys in our van? How will we fit all these rapidly growing boys in bedrooms? We bought the smallest, most streamlined car seats we could find and stuffed them in every seat in the van. We built another set of bunk beds. We ditched the toddler bed and put a rail up on a bunk for the toddler. We bought the smallest high chair we could find, because we're maxed-out for table places. It's snug. It's cozy. It's home, and we love it.
Meanwhile...these boys keep growing. They take up more space, their clothes and other belongings take up more space. We keep a thrift/yard sale box handy for constant de-cluttering. Our rule is, "It must be functional or fabulous!" We've built shelving wherever there's room to house shelving. We've even begun to hang things (literally hang things) from the ceiling, in some cases! And I've got to tell you--that I LOVE the fact that there are so many people taking up so much space in here! I love this life-filled house, where something interesting is always happening.
But it's time for planning and preparation once again, and as we make preparations for baby #6, and possibly #7, it's all about making room! We find ourselves with a toddler who is ready for a booster seat, but there's no room for another chair, and very little room for another place setting. Definitely no room at the table for the next baby (or two!) on the way. There's no room for a larger table, unless part of it hangs in the living room, which has its own space issues. Transportation-wise, we're maxed out for van space, so we're stashing money for a replacement vehicle that will accomodate another one or two precious souls.
We're stackin' 'em deep, and bursting at the seams--and I'm SO thankful. I hope that shines through and that my thoughts on our space issues don't sound complaintive. I'm so incredibly thankful for the fullness of this home, and I'm thankful for every square inch (even on the ceiling, as it's proving to be somewhat useful!) we've got. It's a heck of a lot more than most people on this planet have. But I'll be honest...I'm also feeling.....squished.
There is a nagging insecurity of mine that I will dare to share. I've found that throughout this adoption process I feel like there's a bit of a spotlight on every financial decision we make. We've made no secret out of the fact that we feel called to do this adoption debt-free. All $25,000 needs to come above our basic, family operational expenses. We believe God can and will do this. We've seen Him do it in the $10,000 we've laid-out so far. He does it in a number of ways. So far, we've seen Him provide through our fundraising efforts of yard sales and shirt sales. We keep a strict budget and of course, part of that is allocated to our adoption expenses. He has provided funds from friends we've known for years, new acquaintances, and perfect strangers. We're thankful for every penny, as every penny is needed. The insecurity I speak of comes from this--that we DO appreciate, beyond-words, all support we have and will receive. With that, comes a sense of responsibility that suddenly the decisions we make may be perceived in a variety of ways. So, as we've raised the possibility of building on to our home in order to provide some breathing room and a bit of space to stretch-out in, I find myself asking if this is wrong. Where does this doubt come from? And is it right to feel that way? Is it wrong to feel that way? If we weren't in the adoption process, these questioning thoughts would never enter my mind. We'd make whatever decision with as much wisdom as we could, and move on confidently.
I've talked a bit with a couple other adoptive families about this. They have said they felt the same way about decision-making during the adoption process, right, wrong, or indifferent. One person stated, "I even wondered if it was ok for us to have any fun." I know that feeling--that feeling of wondering if someone will judge whether you are sacrificing enough or not. The feeling of wondering if someone will judge you for taking your family for a dinner, or for buying a Kaladis. Something tells me that it's not necessary to feel that way, yet it's not so simple to just not feel that way when you're in a constant state of fundraising.
As with many of my posts, I get to this point, and wonder, why am I bothering to articulate this? Perhaps you are wondering, too! Well, like I said, it's an insecurity of mine, and maybe the real reason is just to work it out in my own mind using the written word. Maybe, in this case, it's also to share with the general reader that there are so many, emotional facets to this adoption train. Admittedly, it may also be in some way to ease the conscience of this burden of doubt until I can be truly freed from it.
Bottom line is that we all must make our own decisions and our own sacrifices. The extent of sacrifice is only truly known by the one who sacrifices, and by the One who sees. I'm thankful for everything we have; it is all a gift from Him. I'm thankful for being the recipient of others' sacrificial giving; we cannot do this alone. I look for wisdom and guidance in all preparing, decision-making, planning, goal-setting, housecleaning, heartcleaning, decluttering, and expanding...and I also ask God to grant me peace in it all.
Peace be with you and yours in 2013!