I am currently in the play room, typing this on my son’s computer while sitting precariously on the toy box that I’ve turned into a make-shift chair. The same computer he built with his dad, and that his 2 year old sister then proceeded to draw all over the monitor with crayon. Gunnar is watching a tv show, Jana is playing on my phone, and Iris is crying, because she’s two and it’s apparently just a really emotional time in life. Rafe is asleep, although I’m not sure for how long, as the kids always suddenly need to give him hugs and kisses when he’s asleep. Today I vacuumed the play room, got a load of laundry done, and ran the dishwasher. Gunnar and I did a page in his math book, but skipped reading for today. I have no idea what’s for dinner, because I forgot to thaw the fish. I look around and can’t help but think that this is not where I envisioned being ten years ago.
If you would have asked me ten or fifteen years ago what I would be doing in my 30s, my dream wouldn’t have looked like this. Sure, I always wanted to be a wife and a mother, but that’s about where the similarities end.
In my early 20s I had a much different vision for my life. I would get married and have 2, maybe 3 children. I would stay home with them during their early years, and then merrily send them off to school. Then I would spend my free time volunteering at church, meeting with friends weekly to discuss books over hot cups of coffee, and find ways to help out in my community. Maybe I would mentor a young pre-teen, or go back to work part-time. Whatever I did, people would look upon me with adoration as I raised the perfect family while continuously serving others. I would balance everything so gracefully, that the Independent Baptists would need to make an exception and make me a Saint.
Well. That’s not exactly how my life turned out. For one, I have double the amount of kids I ever expected to have. Secondly, somewhere along the parenting journey I felt a call to homeschool. So both of those meant saying goodbye to a quiet home, lunch dates with friends, and doing multiple service projects. Instead, I spend my days (and nights) taking care of four small children. From diaper changes to spelling lessons, and everything in between, this is my life now. Also, nothing let’s you know you have an anger management problem quite like bring stuck inside a house with 4 small children. So pretty sure that whole Sainthood thing got tossed out the window.
And you know what I’m realizing? This life is beautiful. It’s beautiful and amazing and so much better than I could have ever dreamed. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There’s tantrums and screaming and diaper explosions. There’s broken dishwashers and lost shoes and coloring on the walls. But there’s also joy. And grace. And mercy. And love. So, so much love. I have been given the opportunity to spend each day with my children. I’m the one that has seen every first. From the first smile, to first step, to first word read. I’ve been given a husband who works hard to ensure that I can stay home. I have a beautiful home that is full of love and laughter and has seen two of our children born in this space.
2017 was a hard year. I had let bitterness take hold in my heart. “If I sent the kids to school I could get a break. If we didn’t have so many kids we’d be able to afford more luxuries. If I had a smaller family people wouldn’t look at me with disapproval at the grocery store.” Woe is Stacie, with her hands quite literally full of screaming children.
And then God brought us Rafe. And his birth was healing on so many levels, but especially spiritually. An introvert with four small children, I didn’t know if I was cut out for this. And so I decided to try the one thing I had neglected to do in 2017. I cried out to God. My days are spent sending up quick prayers for patience and grace. My nights are spent reading scripture and asking God to unite my heart with His.
And life is crazy and loud and bright and lively and so much more amazing than I could have ever wished for.
Sometimes God doesn’t give us our desires. He gives us something even better.