Throughout her school years, whenever anyone asked my daughter Stephanie what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was unabashed and emphatic – “A mom!”
Her kindness and compassion eventually led her into social work. When she married Aaron, I was quite sure her plan to become a mother was still on the horizon. Abigail was born in the summer of 2014. Nineteen months later, Hanna arrived. Stephanie dialled her career back to part-time and she was living the dream – the mom of two beautiful little girls.
The dream included sleepless nights, dirty diapers, sibling rivalry And now there are three! and non-stop teething. During Hanna’s first winter endless colds and flu besieged the Smith household. One dismal spring day my bleary-eyed daughter wiped her own nose for a change and looked at me wearily. “You know, Mom, I always wanted three kids, but honestly, after this week, I’m not sure I could handle it.”
I patted her hand and said, “You don’t have to make that decision right now, dear.”
In due time the weather improved, the temper tantrums diminished, the teething subsided. Stephanie began enjoying fairly regular nights of sleep. One day Aaron invited us to dinner.
That evening as she set the table, Stephanie asked me to get something out of the oven. I opened the door and noticed the oven was cold. Inside was a solitary bun. “What am I getting out of the oven?” I called over my shoulder.
“What’s in the oven, Mom?” she said.
“A bun. There’s a bun in the oven,” I said. And the proverbial light went on. “Oh! There’s a bun in the oven! Jack! There’s a bun in the oven!”
As happy and excited as I was, part of me wondered – how would they cope with such a busy family? – three children, aged three and under.
The months passed quickly. We all speculated as to the gender of the new arrival. Abigail was sure it was a girl. Hanna insisted it would be a boy.
The big day came. Aaron and Stephanie kissed their girls goodbye. Hanna wept inconsolably for half an hour. She’s a momma’s girl if ever there was one. How would she feel about sharing her mom with a new sibling? Eventually she stopped crying. In between sniffles she looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, “Miss Mommy.”
“I know,” I said, “Me too.”
“Not me!” said Abigail, the allwise three-year-old, “I don’t miss anybody!”
Aaron kept us posted as best he could. At last a text message arrived with a picture of a newborn wrapped in a blanket. “Can you show the girls this picture of their new . . . ?”
Seconds later, another text revealed the mystery: “. . . their new baby sister!”
I showed the girls the photo and told them her name – Chloe Jessica Joy. They both clapped their hands and laughed. Hanna grabbed my phone and declared, “This is Hanna’s ‘Yo-wee!’”
“Yes,” I said, “This is your baby sister, Chloe.”
“Hanna’s Yo-wee,” she repeated. Then she looked at me earnestly and said, “Miss Mommy.”
A few minutes later Abigail, in her seriously grown-up voice, said, “Well, Hanna, I’m sorry to tell you, but you have a baby sister, not a baby brother, like you thought.”
Hanna smiled with satisfaction, “Hanna’s Yo-wee.”
Chloe is already a month old. The household is precisely as busy as I imagined. Stephanie and Aaron are back to living on snippets of sleep and scraps of adult conversation whenever they’re available. Hanna still adores her baby sister. Abigail is the big helper.
I’m not worried about my daughter, really. They say that with small children the days are long, but the years are short. The joys will outweigh the problems, every single day – because she’s a natural born mother. God made her that way!
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