I began 2013 by compiling, with regret, my potential “grand-lasts.” No grand prospects on the son side. Four grandbeans on the daughter’s—the youngest, newly turned two. I suspected I’d entered the final season of beany babies.
Last rock-a-byes, large eyes locked onto mine. Last tiny arms encircling my neck. Last lisping whispers in my ear, “I wuv you, Nana.” Last readings of Runaway Bunny. Last diaper changes, even. By the time I retire they’ll all be half-grown, I sigh often.
But the Preacher and I learned something around Mother’s Day; on the day I returned from work and found our daughter and all four grandbeans (who live on the next block) waiting.
“Come IN, Nana!” called the smallest, poking her head out the screen door, twirling around in her red and white dress, flinging herself flat on her tummy, and doing the chicken dance, almost all at the same time. “Come IN!”
For some reason I noticed the pure complexion on our daughter’s face. Like a porcelain doll, she looked. Everyone chattered at the same time. Suddenly, mid-chaos, one of the beans spilled the beans: “Hey, Nana, did you know? Next year at this time, there’s going to be SEVEN of us!”
I didn’t pay much attention. “Mom, did you hear that?” Amanda asked.
She sat on the stool, one leg tucked up, her face peaceful, looking so much like the teenager she was…yesterday?…telling me she was flying off to Papua New Guinea on a mission trip—for an entire summer. Like then, I paid attention. “WHAT?”
She repeated it. “Next year there’s going to be seven in our family.”
“Glory Halleluiah…another bean to love!”
I should have known, looking back. Evasive comments. Unusual tiredness. That peachy complexion. Extra sparkle in both her and Kendall’s eyes. And this fragment of conversation, relayed over Facebook to friends:
Child: “It’s time for another baby in this house.”
Mother: “Well, you’re just going to have to talk to Jesus about that.”
Child: “Yes, Mama. But you have a part in it too, you know.”
She knew, my baby girl. The infant was already growing inside. She fought it for some time, she said. Things had grown easier at home. The children, eight and under, had become more independent. Four seemed perfect.
But God had other ideas.
She showed us her first ultrasound photo: a tiny bean, barely there. A wisp—God’s breath.
“Lo,” it says in the Word, “children are a heritage of the Lord.” No matter what slurs our culture slings at large families, every child is a gift—natural, adopted, foster. First, fifth, seventh or beyond.
My season of grand-lasts will have a reprieve: a fresh baby for Christmas, a beautiful reminder of the Savior—the reason for the Advent Season now upon us. Thank you, Lord.
Father, bless, protect and provide for each family that welcomes children into their circle. Guide us all as we train them in the way they should go. Amen.