You and your brothers and sisters are still sleeping this morning... I have a few minutes to write before you all wake up, and I want to get these thoughts down before I forget them. And they might come out rather unorganized, because I'm rushing to get them down before our house is alive with noise and busyness. So forgive me if this is a jumbled mess of thoughts.
But I had a revelation this morning and I wanted to share it with you. Because I hope some day you can read these letters and know how very much I love you. Love you so much I feel like I can't get enough of you, Lily - I ask Daddy all the time, "Did we love all of our kids this much?". And he laughs and says, "You ask me that with every baby." :)
It's true. I'm hopelessly in love with my kids.
This morning I woke Daddy up at 5:12...I know because I looked at the clock when I tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to pray for me. I was having a hard time getting back to sleep, and I wanted to talk about some things with him. (just a side note- it worked. After he left I fell into the deepest sleep and woke up not knowing what day it was!)
Anyway, while Daddy and I were talking, you kept burrowing your little warm body into my back...I had scooted over to Daddy's side of the bed and you were finding your way back to me in your sleep. Daddy and I looked over at you and noticed that we shared six inches of the bed while you stretched out over the rest of it. And we laughed about how you always do this. You still sleep in the co-sleeper next to our bed, but you always end up in bed with us at some point during the night. And you have to be pressed up against one of us, your thumb tucked in your mouth and your other hand curled around one of our arms...and typically your foot is touching the other parent.
You have this insatiable desire- even while sleeping - for affection.
So as I was lying there this morning, listening to your suck-suck noises and watching you with your thumb in your mouth, your tiny chest slowly rising and falling, I thought about that quote at the top of my blog.
"Our children arrived exactly as they were designed. There was no mistake here. They are a direct and unmistakable gift from God. He has given us children capable of copious amounts of unconditional love, because we haven't been open to receiving the more indirect ways He's been showering it on us for the previous years of our lives." ~Courtney Heigele
Copious amounts of unconditional love.
No truer words could be said of you, Lily.
I'm going to go out on a limb here...because I hate stereotypes when it comes to Down syndrome. I blogged about it just the other day in a post called Myth Busters. Children with Down syndrome are not always happy...they don't arrive in life with a permanent smile fixed on their faces, angelic halos sitting atop their pretty little heads.
...there is no getting away from the fact that from the moment you wake up in the morning until you drift off to sleep at night...and even in dreamland...you are heaping on me copious amounts of unconditional love.
Or as Daddy would say- you're an affection monger ! You cannot get enough of us. As soon as you wake up you want to snuggle. I can never just put you in your high chair for breakfast, because you are clinging to my neck, kissing me and squeezing me. If you're playing on the floor with the kids and I sit down to read a book or fold laundry, you drop what you're doing and run over to me to be held. You love to read books, to play with dolls, to stack blocks, to color- but if I let you, you would spend the day cuddled up on my lap, sucking your thumb and stroking my hair. You can't get...or give... enough love.
And when it comes to certain people...sometimes even strangers...it's the same. You adore- I mean CRAZY ADORE - people. Naomi (your oldest brother's wife) is your second mother. In fact...you almost prefer her over me. As soon as she walks in the door you are running over to her, your arms in the air, reaching for her and signing "please". At church you want her to put Baby K down and pick you up - if she's sitting on the floor in nursery you run over to her and plop yourself down in her lap as if you own her. If I'm doing nursery and Naomi comes in to get Baby K, you race over to the door like your mother just arrived to pick you up. You worship Naomi.
And her sister too. Danielle is irresistible to you. We went to a revival service out of town the other week, and you saw her in the row in front of us...you writhed in my arms reaching for Danielle, signing "please" with all your might, yelling uh-uh-uh and lunging for her across the chairs. She held you most of the service...in spite of being pregnant and taking care of her own brood of four little children...and you were as happy as could be.
And the list goes on...Mackenzie, Monique, Allison, Janet, Megan, your therapist Karen, the cashier at Target, the woman at church you'd never met before, the lady standing next to us in line at Winco...you want to hug everybody. Actually, you don't want to just hug everybody...you want to shower copious amounts of unconditional love on everybody. It's almost embarrassing, Lily - having to tell you no when you're lunging for the cashier at Target - the one we've never even seen before - because you're pleading and reaching and smiling that million dollar smile and signing PLEASE as if your life depended on it...until the poor woman stops what she's doing to reach for you and says, "Oh please, how can I resist???"
Because we can't resist. There is something about you - stereotype or not - that exudes love.
I've thought a lot about this, Lily...and because I have nine other children to compare you to, I really do think this is a trait uniquely yours. I've read about it in books, observed it in the classroom when your Grammi taught "special ed" all those years, I saw it in classmates at your siblings' school years ago, I've talked about it with other parents of children with Down syndrome, and I'm witnessing it every day- copious amounts of unconditional love.
You know how we all have those questions we want to ask God some day? Why do bad things happen, how did You form something from nothing, what happens to all the missing socks in the dryer? You know, important questions like that? Well on that list of questions I have for God when I get to Heaven some day, I have one that I really want the answer to - "Is the love gene located on the 21st chromosome??"
I can't help but think it must be- because you have three times the normal amount of love and affection any of your siblings had at this age, enough to share with everyone on the planet as a matter of fact. Right down to the cashier at Target.
So here was my little revelation this morning...and it's actually just a theory, so bear with me for a moment, Lily.
What if...we are really the people with special needs...the ones with 46 chromosomes...and missing that extra love gene?
Because what I was asking your Daddy this morning...the thing that had me tossing and turning for hours...was this question: Am I good enough? Am I a good wife, am I meeting your needs, are you happy you married me? Am I a good enough mama? Pastor's wife? Friend? Because I struggle to balance it all, and in this crazy busy life of ours sometimes I really worry that I'm dropping things...I worry that I'm not doing enough, living up to everybody else's expectations.
And Daddy's answer is what got me thinking...because he just laughed and hugged me tighter and said, "Of course. I love you!"
And as you burrowed into me and looped your little arm through mine, I thought about the love gene. And I had this thought...we are so focused on achieving, and God is so focused on love.
My favorite scripture is this....."For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
He loved us that much.
He loved me that much.
He knew I wasn't good enough. He doesn't expect me to be good enough. That's why He sent his Son.
And Lily, I do believe He gave me you as well.
Because you are a daily reminder of God showering love on me. I can't get away from it- copious amounts of unconditional love.
And you're awake now and snuggled in my arms, dearest Lily, so I'll end this letter and start my day.