We celebrated the fourteenth birthday of our son Augie last week. Who can believe that?
The morning of his birthday, I took out Augie’s baby book to find a picture I love. It’s a photo of a freshly-swaddled little babe staring me in the eyes as Paul stares at him. We are beaming, me and Paul, gazing in awe and wonder at the beauty of our fourth son.
Four boys. I remember being amazed. How could God be so kind? What riches were ours to behold!
We never found out the gender of our babies before they were born. I didn’t want to with baby number one (a boy) or two (another boy). By baby number three I knew that I would love to have a daughter and would feel terrible if I was disappointed at the news of another son. I would rather wait to meet the baby and fall in love instantly.
And it worked. Baby number three was a boy and I loved him immediately. Baby number four was also a son and I was smitten right away (along with baby number five several years later — also a boy whom we instantly adored).
So I looked at that picture last week, the one of me and Paul and baby Augie, and I was flooded with memories. We brought that tiny newborn home to three older brothers (ages five and under) and a new chapter of Life with Boys began.
In Augie’s baby book, I found another picture. This one was taken a few days before Augie’s birth and it is of me great with child. I was standing in my dining room, smiling for the camera. I was happy and excited because I’d just gotten up from several weeks of bedrest. It had been a difficult pregnancy, one that required me to accept help from a lot of friends and family members.
I had forgotten about that. Looking at the picture, I remembered neighbors bringing us dinner and loved ones watching my small boys. People cleaned my house and switched over my laundry and I was humbled and overwhelmed by all the gifts of love.
It was difficult, too. I was aware of how needy I was, and how I was adding another baby to so many other babies. The Church teaches us to be open to life and so we were. But it’s one thing to do that when you are independent and strong; having your fourth baby in five years and on bedrest and in need — that was something different.
Those feelings are all so distant now. The pictures remind me, and I realize — it was all a season, a period in time that came and went. The small sufferings and feelings of helplessness passed and what I am left with is a handsome 14-year-old son, along with a band of brothers who seem to get closer every year.
I marvel at this reality — the reality of time and place — because I’m reminding myself, as I think about this season so-long-ago, that “this too shall pass.” The sufferings of this moment I’m in, as I write these words, one day this too will have passed. It might seem epic in the here and now but it will come and go.
Small babies grow to be bigger. Those bigger children will grow as well. The suffering of a difficult pregnancy yields the fruit of a beautiful baby. The suffering of a cranky toddler brings an independent young man. The challenges of life with teens — this too shall pass.
It doesn’t take away the pain of the moment, but the bigger picture certainly helps. These feelings we have right now are not the end-all or be-all. They are bumps in the road and yes, part of the journey. They get us where we need to be.
And even more than the bigger picture is the eternal perspective. God’s grace and peace are with us throughout each step of our walk, taking us where He wants us to be.
This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.