"Six," I say. And then, "Well, for now. Seven in May."
Our little house is packed with six already but seven? I feel like Maria in Sound of Music, sputtering it in disbelief. "Yes, but...seven?!"
Still, this disbelief doesn't come from the same place that sends sarcastic comments on what causes that or the horrified whispered counting as my kids hop out of our super sized van. Seven?!
This disbelief comes from a place of awe.
It's called the luckiest number and I know why - because seven is miraculous. Seven is so much more than I could have ever dreamed of.
I grew up a part of seven. I woke up a part of seven, played a part of seven, learned a part of seven, thrived a part of seven. Being one of seven is a strong part of my identity. I see the world through the lens of one of seven, a person with six other people who have influenced me in that unique way that siblings do.
As an adult, I live as a part of seven. In group texts with my three sisters. Pushing my brother's kids on the swings in my back yard. Praying for them all, by name, with my own children - every day. Seven kids born to my Mom and Dad have shaped my life and my heart in a thousand ways. Now seven of my own do the same.
It's easy to forget, at times, that this is several times over what is considered normal, because it is normal to me. While seven kids worth of laundry will never be my favorite, nor how long an illness takes to pass through a family this size, seven feels familiar. Comfortable. It feels like family to me, because, for me, it's how family has always been.
A friend asks how we are preparing to meet the new baby and how I think the kids will do. Everyone seems concerned that adding a seventh will somehow negatively impact the kids we have. Push them further away from their established place in the family, make it harder for them to get attention or love. As a middle child in a family of seven, I might be just the one to ask. I think back on that June day when we all rushed in to see our Mom cradling her seventh, and the only thing I can remember is joy.
I know on some days it will be more than I can handle. Some days it may feel like more than my heart can hold. It is sure to showcase my shortcomings on a daily basis. It will drive me to my knees more often than not.
But that's how blessings work. They teach us, time and again, that gratitude, struggle, thankfulness, humility and reliance on the Maker of all things - all these things are pure joy. Not because they are easy, or don't change us.
But because, incredibly, they do.
We've got ten weeks to go and she wakes me gently each morning, sleepily turning over inside. My beautiful, wonderful, amazing number seven.
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