Everett & Mae (or Crush and Maisy as we have taken to calling them) arrived in the world on April 14th, 2016– at the same minute. Their arrival was anticipated (and delayed) for weeks, if not months. Contractions all through March, a scheduled induction on the 13th which was pushed to the 14th. A call in the middle of the night on the 13th saying they needed to push us back yet again (which we ignored). A decision to have a C-section that was yet again delayed because the operating room was occupied in a birthing unit already operating at full capacity. About an hour before their arrival, my doctor, a strikingly beautiful and unflappable Indian woman, asked me: “Do you believe in destiny?” Numb from the waist down and foggy from my epidural, I didn’t know how to answer her. (But really- how can you?) Before either Jacob or I could find words, she continued “Back in India people believed in destiny. They would try to schedule their babies to be born at exact times for something like astrological fortune. But their plans always seemed to be pushed back. You remind me of them today.”
Destiny did hide in little pockets of the arrival of Everett and Mae– in between the puking and pain killers, the scrubs and the surgery– for some reason (dare I say it?) they both demanded to be born at the exact same minute– 8:55 pm. It was as if they knew after all that waiting– after the delays and the false contractions and reschedulings– they both knew the best time to arrive was then. Their near-simultaneous arrival not only surprised the doctors and nurses, but the hospital’s computer system as well– babies had to have a different birth-minute in order to be entered separately into the system. But not Everett and Mae- they needed to arrive at 8:55. It was their destiny.
It’s hard to think about things like destiny when you change approximately 27.2 diapers a day and assign 47.7 time outs and pick up countless bits of paper off the ground because your children are fascinated by making things like tickets to fake movie theaters (eldest) and rose petals (first middle) and making circles (second middle.) It’s hard to think about destiny when the pacifier falls out at 2:56, and then 2:58, and then 3:02 am from baby #1 and must be replaced when baby #2 hangs precariously from your left arm. It’s hard to think about the Big Things when the little things continually barrage you– the smelly sheets and the cluttered mudroom and the mac n’ cheese that is getting carried away by the family of ants that has inhabited your kitchen.
But then you go finally get out for a walk and your head is swimming with all those little things and you barely have space to pray “Let me focus on what matters. Let me say yes to the things that matter and no to everything else.”
And you realize the little things actually ARE or at the very least CAN BE the Big Things in disguise. Things like Destiny, and Grace, and Love.
Little things like Cohen describing the recipes he wants to make, describing with detail upon detail about the “berry twirls” he learned about on Noodle & Doodle. His voice still soft and gravelly from his tonsillectomy. And how I hope he will talk to me like this even when he is older. The brave way he takes his medicine and is concerned about all the homework he is missing and diligently starts the 10 page packet of word-searches he received (Yep, it’s the end of the school year.) How his smile is like a beginner’s game of Tetris and how he’s growing like a weed out of his size 7 pants (which you can only hide at the top of his closet when he’s not looking, because he would wear them until he was 30 if we let him)
Little things like Sophie coloring at the table, writing the only words she knows over and over again– words like “I love mom and dad” and math problems she has memorized like “4 + 5 = 9”. How she draws pictures of roses and tulips and enacts dramas with her ponies. How– out of all the books at Barnes & Noble– she requests a chapter book with no pictures and says “Can I please read this in my bed tonight??” (Even though- as noted before– the only words she knows are words like Love and Mom and Dad.) But I guess sometimes those are the only words she needs.
Little things like Ellie saying “poon” instead of “spoon” and “kunk” instead of “skunk” and how she enjoys reading the “crapbooks” instead of “scrapbooks” (Because, as my speech-pathologist friends would say– she hasn’t mastered her “s- clusters” yet.) How on our date to Starbucks (excuse me– Tarbucks–) she bounces up and down on her knees and eats the top of her blueberry muffin by smashing it in her mouth like a Neanderthal. How she passes gas and giggles and then gets distracted by a squirrel outside. How we notice a stunning rainbow as we drive home and pull over and get out of the car so we can see it. “Let’s take a picture!” I tell her, reaching in my pocket before I remember I left my phone at home. “Aww darn. That’s okay,” I tell her, “We can take one with our minds.” I see her curls and her stained green dress and the round cheeks on the profile of her face. Her hazel eyes match the greenish gray of the sky. And then we look at the rainbow and say “click.”
People have recently often asked us “How’s it going?” (the ‘now with 5 kids’ is implied) and I don’t really know how to answer. The simplest response might be, “Well, it is going.” Because really, it just goes. And I mean that in a good way. Life goes– the night becomes the day again until night replaces day. And I watch it and I get to be part of it– of the tiny things that are actually Big Things when you think about them. About how this little life might just be my Destiny.