Give Me Grace

Dear Joy,

This morning, we had thirty minutes before we needed to leave the house, and I hadn't put dinner in the crock pot yet. I threw on a movie for the little guys (Phonics Farm, to relieve some of the mom guilt? It's educational!!), and started running around the kitchen, whipping up paprika and thyme and garlic, chopping onions, mixing it all together with a whole chicken and hoping to myself that I could come up with a good (edible) sweet-potato recipe by 4pm. Pleas for "SNACK!" came from the living room, so I grabbed a bag of pretzel thins from on top of the fridge, turned to race into the other room (why? why was I racing?), and... CRUNCH. THWACK. I somehow managed to karate-chop an open kitchen cabinet door with my knee. It cracked in half (so much for investing in those "solid core all-wood doors") and landed with a THUD, skidding across the dining room floor.

I stared at it in disbelief. I went into the living room to give the kids their pretzels. I came back to stare some more at the gaping hole where the door used to be ('twas a big cabinet), and the cabinet door, lying on the floor, handily splintered in half. (I achieved black belt status in Tae Kwon Do approximately seventeen years ago, so for all intents and purposes, I've still got it. Hi yah.)

Sometimes, things just don't go like I want them to.

And then there's this (you know this): I'm pregnant. (I'm pregnant!)

For anyone who's counting, we have two little boys, ages 3 and 5, and now, coming in the deep Chicago-style midwinter, a little girl is on her way to us. We are thrilled, literally tickled pink, but I'm also well-aware of myself, this third time around. I'm aware that I don't do what I want me to do, kids don't do what I want them to do, and life doesn't do what I want it to do. Like a kitchen cabinet door, crushed by my knee, the unplanned takes me by surprise, and I'm left wondering, How in the world is this even physically possible?

An older woman I barely know came up to me several weeks ago and said, "Nice to see you! So, are you pregnant? Because I told myself, either she's pregnant, or she's getting fat."


These sort of remarks come with the territory, I suppose. At a recent baby shower, standing next to the dessert table, another person just finished telling me how exhausted she was after her second child was born, then looked me straight in the eyes and asked, "I mean, seriously, how do you think you're going to do it?" I have no idea, lady. I have absolutely no idea. Want a cream puff?

Earlier, I said "I'm pregnant" twice, once with a period and once with an exclamation point, because it's how I feel. Imagine the first, said hesitantly, quietly, with a little duck of the head. And imagine the second delivered with a giant smile, arms thrown wide open, me spinning around, giddy. I'm hesitant, apprehensive, because I know how difficult it is, because I have friends all over the place walking through seasons of pain and loss, and because babies don't come easy for me. I'm happy, and a little giddy, because, well, it's a baby, and we're all excited, and this time around, I get to dress my little one in shades of fluffy pink.

I'm learning how to wrap my arms around that strange, tangled mix of sober-yet-joyful emotion, as I start to get fat (thank you Lady #1) and figure out how in the world I'll chase after a third wriggling human being (good news for me: babies don't move much for the first couple months, which buys me some time). In this season of life, I know more people dealing with deep, personal heartache than ever before. My friends have had miscarriages, struggled with infertility, and dealt with the excruciating wait of pending adoptions. I watched one dear friend lose her beautiful baby girl, just hours after she was born. Others struggle with their marriages, difficult pregnancies, or with children diagnosed with cancer or significant developmental delays. I've written a bit about our difficult walk through the world of pediatric neurologists and alternative therapy, and you, Joy, have been gracious, honest, and articulate about your own journey through secondary infertility.

I e-mailed a friend last week to tell her about my pregnancy. We hadn't talked in awhile, but she's a treasured friend who recently experienced a devastating loss. I wanted to tell her about our new baby, but I was really afraid of causing her pain. Here's part of what she replied, after expressing her congratulations with a boatload of exclamation points:

I wouldn't say it's altogether easy. But it's not painful. In many ways, it's almost healing. Sure, there may be tough days where seeing what others receive is difficult. But as much as I celebrated both my pregnancies, I long for other moms who have healthy pregnancies to be able to celebrate their little ones who are on the way... and all the ways they will change the current dynamic of their family.

So, I celebrate with you, just as you mourned with me.

I felt peace wash over me as I read my friend's gracious reply, amazed at her kind, tender heart. And I realized, finally, that grace is exactly what I need.

Grace, when I say something insensitive to someone who's hurting deep inside, and my words unknowingly cut like a knife.

Grace, when well-meaning acquaintances are attempting to make small talk, and don't realize that their remarks are making me feel like garbage.

Grace, when I'm too tired, and the house is a mess, and Netflix is running strong, and cabinet doors are flying off the hinges.

Grace, when my patience is gone, and I'm snapping at my husband and my babies, and everything seems impossible.

Grace, when people hear about my problems and think, That actually isn't very hard, or when I hear about other people's problems and think, That actually isn't very hard.

Grace, because God has lavishly dumped his grace on me, so that I can first accept it, receive it, revel in it, and then freely extend it to others.

I have no idea what three kids will look like for us, in our two-bedroom home, with our one-and-one-sixteenth income. Babies mean snuggly bundles and sleep deprivation, morning kisses and midnight fevers, more work, more love. I've been told that going from two to three is easy, piece of cake. I've also been ominously warned, "With three kids, it's that extra pair of shoes you have to buy. That extra pair of shoes is the killer."

So I'll pray for more grace, and that extra pair of shoes. I'll pray for moms who want more babies, and moms who can't handle the babies they have. I'll pray for the foster moms, the adoptive moms, the waiting moms. I'll ask for the grace to love and accept others like I so badly want to be loved and accepted.

Grace, all over the place. I like the sound of it.

Love, Sherah