Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Second Best

When I was a little girl I proudly announced to my teacher, when asked what I planned to be when I grew up, that I was going to be a mommy and have 12 kids.

When I was 14, a boy at church tried to insult me by predicting my future: "You're such a molly you're going to have 12 kids, live on a cattle ranch, be married to the bishop, and write mormon cookbooks." To his dismay, I didn't see it as the insult he intended. I thought it sounded perfect.

In college wards--three in a row--the end of the year found me voted Most Likely to Have 12 Kids, and again, I took it as the ultimate compliment.

If I had ever stopped to sketch out my dream life it would have looked very much like this: Stay-at-home mom to 12 or so kids, all delivered naturally & possibly via home birth, probably home schooling, writing books (though not necessarily cookbooks) on the side, married to an awesome guy who totally supported all of those endeavors, living off the land and possibly off the grid...you get the idea. It's a completely different life from the one I have.

Thank God it's completely different from the wonderful, amazing, totally perfect life I have. Oh, how I thank God that I ended up with this wonderful, amazing, totally perfect-for-me life.

Sometimes I get pitying looks from people because I wasn't able to have children "of my own." I look at my beautiful, beautiful children, who look nothing like me and never will, and I am grateful all the way down to my toes that I was blessed to have THEM; not the genetic clones I envisioned. I feel the love of their birthfamilies, surrounding the kids and sustaining me. I look at all the ways adoption has expanded my soul and opened my heart and enriched my world, and I'm humbled to the ground that God's plan for me included this "second-best" path.

Sometimes I get pitying looks from people because my path to wedded bliss took a painful detour through divorce. Ironically, some of those pitying looks come from people whose own marital experience could best be described as the next road over from hell, so I take the self-righteous pity for what it's worth--a thinly veiled attempt to feel better about their own circumstances. This one is harder to write about because I don't have a happy ending to tack on as the moral of the story. I do, however, kinda agree with the handcart pioneers, that my divorce and subsequent experiences have been a small price to pay for knowing God. The kind of close-up, intimate knowing that only comes when you are down in the mud...yeah, I'd do it all again if it meant coming through with the knowledge, deep down to the core of me, that God is always there for me.

And you know, as much as I adore my kids, I'm really glad that I'm not living the stay-at-home mommy life that I imagined. I love that my kids have benefited from many loving people besides me. I'm glad that they've been able to learn, from early ages, that the world is full of kind people, that they can trust the world and be safe in the world, because they've been blessed with wonderful caregivers. I'm glad that God's plan for my life has involved an endless parade of college students who share their enthusiasm and energy and fun, not just with me, but with my kids. My kids think I have a coolest job on the planet, and I would have to agree. Thank goodness God knew that giving me lots of grownup kids to mother, in addition to my four little ones, would keep me happy.

There are more. I love my scrappy little house, for many reasons, one of which is that it's given me the opportunity to learn new repair skills I didn't think I had. It's also given me the chance, many times over, to appreciate good neighbors and awesome home teachers and all-around nice people who help me out when I'm over my head. I love my beat up old minivan, mostly because my kids love it and because it's name is Madame Blueberry, and how can you not love a car that comes with a name like that? If I had the dream house, the dream car, I'd miss the affection for shabby things that has grown on me.

It's cliche; true, but I'm so glad that God hasn't answered all of my prayers the way that I wanted.

This beautiful, messy, glorious second-best life is the happiest thing I could know. Who knew?


Gracie said...

He knew. And I'm glad He did!

Jen said...

It's very comforting to know that His will for us is better than the best we can imagine.

Becky said...

That's a wonderful life! My cousin, who is adopted into our slightly insane family, can always say when we start getting really weird and embarrassing that, "I'm adopted." Sometimes I wish I had that excuse :) However, she's sealed to the family and is stuck with the rest of us forever, ah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa....

Melanie Crouse said...

You are amazing, Wendy. This is just what I needed to read today. Thanks!