My kids know what spring break around our house means -- spring cleaning. Yes, we also have fun, we sometimes go see grandparents, we sleep late, etc. But over spring break I always clean. I've been in the kitchen cleaning cabinets, in Jack Henry's room cleaning out his closet, and in the garage cleaning and reorganizing things.
I've also been in the attic sorting through toys and clothes. I have a bag of maternity clothes to give away, and a few things I just can't part with. There are the few maternity outfits I wore over and over in Dallas because I was so big nothing else would fit. These are tucked away in a container labeled "Dallas" with other things from our apartment that I can't let go of. When I look at those black pants and white shirt I remember waddling around NorthPark Mall with Brandon and the kids. I've also been packing away toys that I had hoped Anne Marie would play with. There are some to give away and some to store away. I've put our car seat up in the attic and have given my neighbor's bouncy seat back to her. And I find myself saying goodbye to Anne Marie all over again.
I put the high chair in the back of the attic and said goodbye to the one-year-old Anne Marie. The one all of us would have laughed at as she sat in her high chair with food on her face. I put away the baby seat for the bike and the little baby helmet and said goodbye to the two-year-old Anne Marie -- the one who would have been able to ride on the back of our tandem bike with Brandon and me. I sorted through clothes and said goodbye to the three-year-old Anne Marie -- the little girl who would have worn her sister's sun dresses and sandals. In the attic is Mary Margaret's old princess bike. I will bring it down and set it aside for someone else to ride and say goodbye to the four-year-old Anne Marie who would have ridden around the cul-de-sac on that little pink princess bike. One by one, things packed away and put aside to give away. One by one, hopes and dreams packed away.
Another hard thing has been trying to "say goodbye" to the hope of another baby for our family. Anne Marie was our long hoped-for and prayed-for baby. The baby God gave us in our "old age." She is also our third baby in heaven. One brother or sister in 2007 at 13 weeks, and another brother or sister in 2008, just a few days after the doctor confirmed a positive pregnancy test. I cried long and hard over these babies as well, only in private. And when we passed the 13-week mark with Anne Marie and saw a strong heartbeat and the doctor said everything looked good, I rejoiced. A baby to hold in my arms, after all this time. Until now, I have never minded getting old. I'm not bothered by wrinkles. I didn't care that at Anne Marie's ballet recitals we might have been the parents who would be mistaken for grandparents or that when I was 55 I would still be homeschooling. If it weren't for the cruel biological clock telling me I am too old for another baby, I wouldn't mind getting old.
It's hard to let go of a desire. Hard to say goodbye to a yearning that is so strong. It's hard to be content. Hard to accept God's plan. Yes, I am so grateful for the children God has given me. I think I'm more grateful than ever. I see how fragile life is. And yet, I had hoped for one more baby.
And soon I will take down our baby bed. The one that we have been waiting to fill for years. And I will pray the same prayer. The one I pray when these dark times surround me. The one I pray when I see the signs of spring -- warm weather, flowers peeking through the earth, buds on the trees -- and yet in my soul it feels like winter. Lord, help me to love and trust you more. Help me to love you so much that I am able to die to what I want so badly. Help me to trust that you know what is best for me and our family. And Lord, please be patient with me. Letting go is harder than I thought.