Joy…A Double Portion…The Children of my Heart
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be married and have a family. I grew up in a family of six children—three boys and three girls. When we were growing up Mom often said if she had married younger she would have liked to have had six more. It always made me feel wanted and loved--and more than a little choked to think of having three more brothers.
Given that all I ever wanted was to be married and have a family, it was a pretty easy decision to take care of children—while waiting for my knight in shining armor. Don’t be laughing --if you have read anything else of mine, you might remember, I believed in fairies too…..
I had some wonderful families to work for and collected some special little friends along the way—my Facebook is filled with the amazing grownups they’ve become. We played Hide and Seek, had Mad Hatter tea parties, picnics in the park, Christmas in July—checked for trolls under bridges--enjoyed beach days, and read stories by Robert Munsch and Dr Seuss. I have mixed boatloads of Koolaid and baked enough cookies to feed a small country.
In 1991 while living in Ontario, I learned of a young family who had lost their wife and mother. I remember feeling compelled to pray for this grieving family. I was asked by mutual friends if I would consider a nanny’s position with this family. I was concerned I would not be able to meet the needs of these hurting children, so I said no. Over the next few months this family came to my heart and mind, and again I prayed for them. As I prayed something changed in my heart. April 23rd 1992, I flew to Calgary to take care of Steve and Sandra--first for a few years in Alberta—and then later again in British Columbia. In our time together, we loved, laughed, teased, taught, and forgave each other….. precious days.
Years later when I was in my late thirties I could hear the soft ticking of my biological clock. The family I was working for at that time had a daughter who was nineteen and very direct. When I talked about having children of my own, she nonchalantly replied that, ‘Now-a-days, I didn’t necessarily need to wait for a man, and perhaps I should consider visiting some of the clinics that are available for that sort of thing’. (She was much more direct, but that is about as close as I can manage—I am blushing as I type). When I picked my jaw up off the floor—and poked my eyes back in my head-- I evenly replied--that--if and when I had children I would be married and have them the old fashioned way.
Last summer I was honored to fly to Calgary to attend and celebrate Steve’s wedding to his beautiful bride Robin. It was wonderful to see their father Jim, his new wife Beth and Sandra again, and to meet Sandra’s boyfriend Mike. The following week the kids and I went out for dinner with their partners. We hadn’t been together for about ten years. My heart was warmed to see how grown-up they were and to hear the same memories through their eyes.
Now in my mid-forties the ticking had been getting much louder and when the alarm finally went off, it was how and when I least expected it--and absolutely gutted me. My heart and arms had a physical ache that would not go away. I grieved for my children--the children I will never carry in my body or hold next to my heart… never laugh, sing, read or whisper with, never cool a fevered body or kiss a hurt away---the grief and sense of loss was suffocating.
They were difficult days, but I chose joy. I made a deliberate choice to look at Steve and Sandra—indeed--all the children whose lives I have been part of and be thankful. Only a few days later I received a letter from Steve and Sandra’s father. In it was Sandra’s graduation picture from University. Sandra shared on the back what I meant to her, as she and Steve have both done through the years. I am humbled and blessed at the place this family has given me in their lives and hearts, but to be reminded at that particular time was a balm to my heart. I don’t believe in coincidence---I believe in God. I believe we were nudged and placed in each others' lives-- me to meet their need--and they to meet mine. When Jim dropped that letter in the mail, it was exactly when I needed to be reminded of who they are to me.
I cannot claim Steve and Sandra as my own, but twenty years later I can tell you—knowing them has brought much joy and they are truly the children of my heart.