You don't write books with babies in your lap, you don't even check your email because four boys are honking your nose and pulling at your hair and coffee spills all over the overdue bills on your desk and you wonder again, why you said Yes.
Why you said you'd take in your friend's two children when she called saying she couldn't do it anymore, she couldn't be a mom anymore. And rather than see that one-year-old and three-year-old go into the foster system you said you'd take them in, in addition to your six-month-old and his two-year-old brother.
Because some things are more important than sleep. Or a hot cup of coffee. Or that novel you've just been contracted to write because of course, you finally got a contract right after you took the boys in. Because God cares more about the least of these and he'll reward you for it, too.
But it doesn't feel like a reward. Especially when one of the boys forgets to lock the gate behind him and your six month old tumbles down the stairs in his walker and you grab him, weeping, you run with him to the office and close the door and hold your baby close to you and sob to God, I can't do this.
Rock your baby and sobbing, and then somehow, God reminds you that you can. And you rise, open the door, turn on some music for the boys in the living room and they run dancing around the coffee table.
The story only gets written because you hire a nanny--a Dutch girl from your hamlet who makes homemade pasta noodles and laughs with all of her upper body and brings crafts to do with the boys. She brings her keyboard and songs fill the insides of your walls and she makes you mugs of tea and you call her Angel.
But even as the characters begin to form on the screen in your Word document, even as the plot thickens and you try to avoid those excessive adverbs and cliche descriptions, you hear the boys laughing outside the office door.
And you miss them. Your house is full of children but they're no longer climbing all over you, they're climbing all over somebody else, and you wonder if they aren't the greatest story your life is writing?
These four boys whose noses and legs never stop running, who never get enough stories at bedtime, who always want more songs and more snuggles and more glasses of milk and more of you.
All you've ever wanted is to be a published author and now you have the chance and you can't help thinking, this isn't what life is about.
It's incredible to be able to make up stories but it's even more incredible to live them. To hear the words tumbling from your child's mouth as he talks about his favorite blue flashlight as you lie beside him in his bunk-bed. "Some flashlights are small, and some are big, and some are tiny and some are huge," he says as he slips his hand into yours there in the dark.
Catherine Wallace writes, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
Yes, I write books, but I don't make a living from them. I make a living from being a mother and a wife, from nurturing life and love through the main characters of my story: the Dutch-German man I fell in love with back in Bible School, the one who converts his car to run off vegetable oil, who cans his own salsa and snowboards mountains. Who hikes up his pajama pants and dances for me in the middle of the living room, who throws his boys on the bed and eats their tummies, who downloads Parenthood for me and goes geocaching with me and kisses me like he means it.
And the two Filipino boys who now only visit us once a month because they're back with their mama, and she thanks me every week for saving her life last year, and my biological sons--the ones I wasn't supposed to be able to have--who make me feel famous every time I enter a room. Who squish my cheeks together in their dimpled hands and say, "I lah you Mama."
This, friends--this is the story worth telling. The one we're in.
I am honored to be giving away my debut novel, A Promise in Pieces--which releases this month--today to you friends... it's about a woman like me, named Clara, who loves passionately while struggling to believe she is loved.
From the back cover: "It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt—and the promise stitched inside it."
If you want to win one of two copies, just leave a comment below and we'll choose two winners within the week. Otherwise, you can download a free chapter and purchase the novel HERE.
This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom.
Please check the series page for all of the posts!