Life When You’re Making Other Plans


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Tulips in back garden by house. There’s 6 inches of fresh and old snow on the ground, but not on this garden and the flowers aren’t waiting.

My two new grandbabies, born just weeks ago, will know that life can sometimes be a bit spontaneous.

When a first child is born, his or her parents’ lives are changed forever. A nursery may be prepared, a baby book purchased, scrapbooks filled with locks from the first haircut, or pictures of the first step. The world, at least in that little home, revolves for a time around the tiniest family member.

It’s not always that way for child number two or four.

The grandson and granddaughter who entered the world this February aren’t first children. The grandson is number two, so he’s still unique—he is the baby who changed his older brother into a “brother.” But, he’ll figure out pretty soon that he was never “first.” The granddaughter who entered the world this February isn’t even number two, in anything. She is the fourth child and the third daughter. She has a lifetime ahead of mended, slightly stained clothes and toys that are, well, “broken in.” It is to be hoped that they aren’t usually broken.

Somehow, today made me think of these two new babies, with their melodic, pretty names. One was born Feb. 13. The other Feb. 8.

Both entered loving families, but families long established before their arrival. They will have to work a little extra hard to be heard, to be noticed, to feel the love that I can assure them is and will be there, even if the nursery wasn’t first created for them and the volumes recording their baby lives a bit thinner than the volumes that record the lives of the Number Ones.

After all, love isn’t measured in volumes. It’s measured in how a mother’s and father’s heart can feel just as close to the nd and rd and th kids.

Anyway, why did today make me think of these new babies? It was an odd, typical early spring Iowa day. We started with a heavy snowstorm, but as I write this, the sun is peeking from the clouds and the snow patches on the pavement are rapidly disintegrating. It didn’t exactly move from winter to spring in the course of a day—we have way too much snow for a lick of sun at 30 degrees to make that much difference—but the sunny afternoon sure feels springy.

After the hard labor of clearing the snowfall, I checked the back garden, were new flowers are already poking above the frozen ground. If it were me, little flowers, I might choose a safer, more expected, more protected time.

Like my new grandchildren, you’ll have to take your chances. Life isn’t always totally mapped out or expected. Sometimes, it just happens. But it is always grand.

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