We just got home from a wonderful vacation, courtesy of Shea and State Farm. We spent six nights at the Walt Disney World Yacht Club resort with hundreds of other rock star State Farm dads and moms and their families.
I have two stories from our trip that I want to share. This one is a Here moment. The next one is a “This stuff only happens to Jen” story. Stay tuned for that Friday. Unless you have a weak stomach.
Two years ago, we were at the same hotel for the same week at the same State Farm event. I was a year out from my cancer surgery and treatment. We had been cleared to try for our third baby, but four months had passed with no results.
Everywhere I looked there were babies and pregnant moms, and my heart ached. After four months of trying, which was longer than it took with Gabe and Kate, it was hard not to feel defeated, and angry at my cancer and my age. Shea had worked hard for the trip and the kids were super excited, so every day I took a deep breath and made my outsides look happy.
It wasn’t that hard to do, in the relaxing lap of Disney luxury and with the joyful noise of my kids’ laughter. But there was a film over that vacation that darkened it just a bit.
Thankfully, we had our third baby. Her due date was nine months to the day after we arrived at Walt Disney World.
Last week, when we walked into the lobby of the same hotel, a wave of anxiety and longing swept over me. The feeling stayed with me when we swam at the pool that night, surrounded again by babies and pregnant women. It wasn’t until the next morning, as Annie toddled around the lobby and Shea said “Look how big she’s getting” that I realized I was holding my breath, just like two years ago, waiting for something and scared that it wouldn’t happen.
But there she was, dragging her blankie across the floor and smiling up at the bell captain.
And my heart quieted. It was a moment of powerful Grace.
I have struggled with the knowledge that we could be done having kids. Even with three c-sections and cancer and postpartum anxiety and the fact that Annie just…won’t…wean, I thought maybe there would be time for one more. The longing was not as strong or loud as last time, but it was there. I prayed over the last year to know if the longing was mine alone, or placed in my heart by God. And I also asked that if another child was not in The Plan for us, could God please remove the longing from my heart?
I prayed for contentment.
I guess sacred moments don’t always happen in sacred spaces. Or maybe sacred moments make places like hotel lobbies sacred. Either way, in the middle of the Yacht Club lobby at Walt Disney World, my prayer was answered. I saw my family, and I knew it was enough. More than enough. I understood that God’s plan is for us to move on to the next phase, that there is something else coming our way.
It’s the end of the having phase of our parenting. Now we move on to the raising part.
And the space in my heart where the longing used to be is peacefully empty. It’s reserved. I don’t know for what or who, but it’s ok not to know.
I am contently*waiting for the something else while I thank God for answered prayers and moments of Grace.
*I think I made a word up right there. But you know Dana and I used to be English teachers, which totally qualifies us to make words up. For reals.