Today is my younger son’s birthday. He is five years old. We weren’t even in Virginia for a year when he was born. Just like his brother, we were surprised at his delivery as to what gender child we were having. He was named after his great-great uncle, Tucker. He was my father’s uncle who preached at my father’s ordination service. He was from Virginia as well.
Tucker is smart, funny, and full of all kinds of mischief. My ongoing joke with my wife, our family, and friends is that we were destined to have a third child in order for him to live into his destiny of being a middle child. From a birth order perspective, he fits perfectly into the “middle child” stereotype. He is strong-willed, independent, and much smarter than he lets anyone know. He is loving and compassionate, but he hides that with a layer of toughness. When he was born, I was afraid whether or not I would be able to love him as much as his brother, just natural emotions of having a second child. He’s captured my heart and I love him so much. He and his brother are similar and yet so different.
Sunday is my daughter’s birthday. She will be two years old. I am thankful that she won’t remember much of the first two years of her life as they’ve been fairly tumultuous. She never knew my mom, her grandmother, who died just two months before she was born. She barely knew my dad, her grandfather, who died when she was 19 months old. After having two boys, we thought that a girl would be fairly low maintenance, at least in the early years (or until she became a teenager). We were wrong. I am convinced that she inherited some of the mischievousness of my mom. She’s a climber, a spiller, a biter, a teaser, and so much more. She is strong-willed as well.
We weren’t sure whether we were going to have a third child. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I wanted one. While we weren’t trying for a third, we weren’t taking precautions to make sure that a third was out of the question. When I found out that we were having her, I just wasn’t sure what to make of the news (you can read a little bit more in depth about my angry response that day here). It was just a few weeks before my mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and the beginning of a very long and hard two years in my life.
As I wrestled with the news, I knew that God was up to something. Unlike her brothers, we decided to find out what gender child we were having. When the ultrasound technician told us we were having a girl, we were astonished. “Are you sure?” my wife asked. We were in such disbelief after two boys, and the news was met with a sense of joy and dread as I knew that she would most likely never meet my mom. I was overjoyed to be having a little girl but so disappointed that my mom would never meet her on this side of eternity. When my wife was pregnant with our first, I secretly hoped it was a girl, but I wouldn’t trade my oldest son for anything.
This is a weekend of celebration of the lives of my two younger children. I am grateful for them. I never knew how hard it would be to have three children. When we entered into the realm of “zone defense” from the previous “man to man” defense that we had before, it was a fairly rude awakening for us. I usually listen to wise counsel, so I’m wondering who I can blame for not telling me about the difficulty that a third child would bring. Still, while I wouldn’t trade any of them as they each bring their own unique sense of character and joy to my life, I wanted to ensure that a fourth child wouldn’t be in the cards for us (at least as much as was physically possible on my part). So that’s just what I did.
As the father of three children, knowing that I was beyond pushing my luck having a third child, I find my sense of joy in unusual places. There are plenty of times throughout the day and in all of the hours that I spend with my children where I find joy. But there is also a strange sense of joy and relief in knowing that three’s company….and four would not only be a crowd for us, but also might just drive me right over the edge. Every time that I realize that we are finished having children, while there is a small twinge of regret (fleeting, almost), there is an even greater sense that causes me to tip my head to the sky and utter a heartfelt “thanks” to God for the three children that I have but an even greater “thanks” for the fact that I may actually retain some small amount of my sanity by quitting not quite while I was ahead.
Yes, I am grateful for all that God has given me and I will celebrate my children heartily this weekend. At the same time, I will breathe a deep sigh of relief that God knew what he was doing and only gave me as much as I could handle (although I keep wondering about that one). I love you, Dylan, Tucker, and Chloe. You guys make life exciting and fun and you help to instill hope in me for the future. Thanks for bearing with a dad who always tries to know what he’s doing but rarely accomplishes it. Thanks for showing me grace in ways that I never imagined. Thanks for shining a light in my dark days and for teaching me how to love more and more each day. You are three of the greatest gifts that God has ever given to me.