Sunday night, I sat down at a kitchen table beautifully decorated by my husband for a homemade Mother’s Day dinner.
(The man prepared this elegant meal of blue cheese lettuce wedges, olive oil and rosemary bread, sautéed garlic asparagus and bourbon-butter steak AND served it at a table decorated with bird décor and linen napkins he had apparently spent the afternoon Googling how to fold. Can we discuss the number of brownie points this superstar just earned? What missed 15-year anniversary of our first date?! #boyfriendforeva)
Spoiled rotten and completely overwhelmed with gratitude for this precious man who had not only cooked for me but also for the mama I hold so dear, I just sat in my chair — not allowed to help or clean — and (because I haven’t sat down in 10 years and I don’t know what to do with sitting time) slowly and intentionally counted each and every one of my precious blessings.
As I basked in the laughter of the superheroes who had gifted me a Lego rose for Mother’s Day — one I couldn’t kill — I just thanked God. And I realized how easily this could have been the Mother’s Day that wasn’t if I had allowed fear to paralyze me years ago.
The fear of losing my husband in combat nearly kept us from conceiving Superhero 1 just weeks before Supersoldier’s 12-month-turned-16-month-long deployment to Iraq.
The fear of experiencing another devastating miscarriage could have kept us from conceiving Superhero 2 the day Supersoldier returned from another combat tour.
And the fear of bringing home a child we didn’t know from a place we knew he would miss to a family with no experience with medical special needs with money we didn’t have could have kept us from one of the greatest blessings of our lives.
Without these three superheroes, we would be missing out on nighttime cuddles and bedtime hugs. We would be missing out on nudity displays and wrestling matches, trampoline dodge ball games and tree house Nerf wars. We would be missing out on homemade pizza Friday nights to Disney movies we would have never watched and Sunday family hikes we would have never had the privilege of bribing our children to engage in with snacks they’re normally not allowed to eat.
We would be missing the laughter and brother fighting and stomping and Lego crashing that is the background music of our home.
But most of all, we would be missing out on the unconditional love and endless joy that these three very different superheroes bring to our lives.
Fear so easily could have robbed our family of the joy spark in the eyes of children who’d just learned how to read or the warmth of the hugs that followed skinned knees and light saber wounds. Of the hard days when God used the challenges of children to humble us. Of the painful days when we had to depend completely on Him because our talents and tricks were completely inadequate.
And when I look at Superhero 3 especially, the one whose story required the greatest amount of faith and fear conquering to write, I physically feel ill considering what our life would look like without him — the superhero who almost wasn’t.
Without Superhero 3, there would be no one in our home to love us “big much.” To beg us to “hold you me” and to barge into our room with midnight announcements of “Why no one snuggling me right now?!”
Without Superhero 3, there would be no one in our home to teach us what it means to thrive despite our conditions. To change our attitudes when we can’t change our circumstances. To push on and press on and not let anything — from a broken leg to a missing thumb to 10 surgeries and 14 casts in the span of a four-year life — stop us from God’s best.
To be an overcomer.
Without Superhero 3, our family would have missed out on one of the biggest blessings and most important lessons of our lives.
The thing is, there are millions of Superhero 3s just waiting for THEIR imperfect families to bring them home, love on them and fail as parents (because all of us do at some point) as they attempt to teach them how to fly.
All it takes is one imperfect family working through one perfect God to give one superhero a chance.
So this week following Mother’s Day, I’ll be writing a short series called “Superheroes Without Families.” Because it’s not your reproductive parts that decide whether you’re a mother or not. It’s not your ability to give birth that decides if you get to celebrate Mother’s Day amid a league of superheroes who stain your Sunday best and hug you tightly when they accidentally shatter your cider glass on the floor.
It’s your love for your children — even the ones you didn’t birth yourself.
You may or may not be able to have biological children, but there thousands of superheroes-in-waiting who are hoping that someone like you might call them “child.”
This Mother’s Day week, I want to share our story of how God made one of them ours.