My photo
We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Thursday, September 04, 2014


The sun shown brightly on the face of my daughter. Her eyes met mine and conveyed the delight she felt in her surroundings. Sprinklers are so fun. There was a speck of something on her cheek. I grabbed a baby-wipe ('cause those clean everything) and tried to remove it. It didn't budge or dissolve.

It is a freckle! People in my family don't have freckles! My daughter does. I looked over at the other little ones, and they have a few freckles, too.

I don't have them. I never have.

I do however, have triplets and two pre-adolescents. Sometimes, it is lonely having something about me that is so unlike other mothers. It can be quite polarizing. There are T-shirts that make this realization something I can paste across my chest or ceramically-contain my morning dose of caffeine. The most flamboyant, tongue-in-cheek Mother of Multiples slogan:

I Laugh at your One Baby

I saw it not too long after I brought our triplets home from the hospital and immediately, it met my need to feel validated in middle of realizing the exhaustion of life with three at once. It felt good to know I wasn't alone. Even today as I do everything times three over and over again, it brings me comfort that someone else knows

However, I completely understand if you find it offensive. I am also very aware that by my own admission of chuckling at this slogan, there has been a day that I have laughed at the first-time-mom who is unaware of the changes that come as most mommies have subsequent children. The numbers do relax a person. But I get it. I can remember a time in my life when I would have found it offensive and it is good for me to remember why.

I will tell you how I feel now but first, this is how I might have felt years ago.

In the throws of infertility and secondary infertility, I think I would have first felt like all the people with children just need to be thankful for the ability to mother and stop complaining. I think I would have felt sad that I couldn’t join the club of whatever is so hard about raising children. I think I would have preferred to have any number of children over being childless or struggling to conceive. After having a miscarriage, all of the above would have felt even more pronounced.

When I was a new mom learning how to care for my sweet Andrew, I might have heard this phrase and considered my experience with my one baby and all the days mothering him was over the top hard and felt belittled. 

Then after Elijah was born, when all things mothering are exponential, I might have felt like it didn’t matter how hard the days of negotiating two littles, it wasn’t as difficult as raising a larger family--- let alone more than one baby at a time. I couldn't compete with those numbers.

But now, it feels like a disservice to those I know (including myself) to discredit just how difficult it is to raise multiples. It is different than one at a time and hard, too. 

The continuum of Easy – Hard – Harder – Hardest only exists in the world of comparison. It may seem satisfying to find someone who can share our experience as a means to relate to each other. Groups are created around shared experiences and Facebook is full of them. But even in our similarities and in our attempts at comparisons, we all have unique stories. Even when there is commonality I still feel unsatisfied which sometimes leads to more complex feelings of disconnectedness and isolation. There are moments in a conversation that I sense that the mama with whom I am speaking would not ---in a billion years--- say what is really on her mind for fear that her experience will pale in comparison to mine. I will confess, I have been so guarded toward others. Then sometimes, another mama will make a statement that tries to level the playing field. I have done this as well. More times than I can count someone will tell me, "My children were 18 months apart. That is just like having twins." Um, no it is not. And that is OK. It does not mean she hasn't had her share of difficult days. 

Romans 12-16 describes those who are free to love God and love their neighbors in the grace and mercy afforded them by Jesus. I read through the lines, I am led to repent of all the ways I have valued finding similarity over showing love in due season. There are no comparisons here, simply speaking, only many exhortations to do and be and love. I think particularly of the call to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and feel the weight of loving well. Over the last two weeks, there have been so many things in the headlines and in the lives of people I love dearly running the gamut of the experience of life. There were joys and there were deep sorrows. Thinking about navigating such contrasting experiences and the emotions that flow out of them feels overwhelming. How is it even possible to gravitate from pain to delight and everywhere in between?For me, bent on playing by the rules, it can me dangerous to live out of the laws in these chapters without a connection to why these chapters come at the end of Romans.

I would argue that there is only one way to even think about doing such a thing... loving each other well with or without shared experiences. In order to go there, we first have to huddle under the umbrella of Romans 1-8. This week, I finished listening to Tullian Tchivijian's sermons through the book of Romans and once again I was astounded at the good news and unifying nature of the gospel.  After the consolidation of people and peoples under the weight of our biggest problem, being separate from God by sin, Paul announces that God has now met both Jew and Gentile with the kiss of grace.  Once again and in this area of life, Jesus calls me to lean in toward the gospel as my only hope in all things.

Loving my neighbor flows out the remarkable truth that in Christ, everything I need I already have ---including compassion, unfailing love, and a sympathizing in my weaknesses that is unmatched by other human form. But I must confess, I don't always do that very well. Even more than a person who identifies in my experience, I need people around me that remind me, "And to the one who does not work but believes in Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness".  Regardless of my current circumstances, I was once as Romans 3 describes and yet now, I am loved and identified as a daughter of the Most High God. That is the beauty of grace, it stands ready to move in and level every playing field. When I remember that my individual struggles and differences are only secondary to my biggest struggle, remembering the good news that honors that this life is hard and looks outward to Hope and gives space for lasting love and community. Seems like that theme is found in scripture as well.  

I am going to let you in on a little secret.  Having three, two-year-olds is really hard.  It is a different kind of hard. They are precious.  It is still hard work. That doesn't make your experience where ever you are invalid. Denying my own experience for fear of belittling yours is exhausting. Yes, I look to ridiculous T-Shirts and Pinterest posters sometimes that remind me that someone somewhere might get it somewhat, but even in the most similar aspects of our lives, we will find variations too precious to ignore. When I fail to see the beauty in our diversity, my lawless deeds are forgiven, my sins are covered. Regardless of my current circumstances, we all have the same big problem. Help me sisters, to remember.

In the world of compassion, everyone has valid experiences. The expanse of experience is covered in the grace reserved for individuals loved by God. I need to learn from you and in the gospel, it is safe to do it. It is good for me to remember the seasons of my life and their respective, defining truths. Knowing you helps me to do that. I cannot walk in a thousand shoes, but I can see you standing in yours.

I am getting to know my three littles differently than I have gotten to know my big boys. They are no less individuals with their own places in the world but they are bringing whole new sets of DNA to the table. With Andrew and Elijah, people have said, "He looks just like his father," or "He has his mother's ability to turn a phrase." Although some have tried--- you have no idea the comments that try to link our littles with us physically. It is hysterical. I digress.  ---we are learning about a whole new family through them. They will be very different from me. I can sit and try to figure them out by matching them to what is most experientially comfortable or I can let them be who they are and marvel at whatever that is, similar or not.

In relation to my friends and neighbors, I want to study your face. It may or may not resemble mine. Allow me to stare into the beauty of who God has made you to be as I lean in to the person God is making me. If in the end you look nothing like me then let us wonder at Him more. We will have our differences and our similarities, but the one we can always count on is the fact that we are loved and known perfectly by our Father. I don't want to miss even the smallest freckle.

1 comment:

Kim said...

love this...