A deep-seeded despair rooted in the far corners of my heart just over three years ago. Afraid to admit this fear, I kept it tucked firmly away in a location I would only visit for brief intervals of time. I believed if I neglected the frightening thoughts they'd just go away, or at least fail to surface regularly. Truly though, I was a walking charade...and that scam scared me more than concealing a dark heart.
Looking at Libbey, then a few months shy of her fourth birthday, I'd inwardly cringe knowing that her position in my life was about to be usurped. My most beautiful daughter, who was the world to me after my God and my husband, had allowed me to live my dream of becoming a mother, while working at that job full-time. I mean...come on...look at how precious she is in her Georgia Bulldogs shirt:
Three years ago today I checked into the hospital for the birth of my second child, a little girl we'd decided to name Caroline Raley. "Caroline," because we just loved it, and "Raley," after my maternal grandparents...it was their surname. At 2:39 pm our Sweet Caroline made her debut in the world. At 2:40 pm I began to prepare for the inevitable...what I'd been dreading for months. The first thing out of my mouth was, "She looks nothing like Libbey!" And I knew the despair was going to take over.
Carys, my friendly nurse with the fabulous name, wheeled me into the OR recovery room so that I could meet Caroline properly, and hopefully nurse for the first time. When Carys handled this bundle of new life to me I looked into my baby's eyes and felt a shame I never imagined possible. For I knew, in that very instant, that I loved this second child as much as my first. I was unaware that my heart could double in size in less than a millisecond. Any lingering grief I felt at doubting my adoration for another child was replaced by a Peace that continues to pass all understanding.
For not only did I become a new mother again on that day, but my eldest daughter became a big sister. Mama became the "Mamaw Pinky" of one grandson and two granddaughters. All of us--Littons, Roths, Smiths, Sanderses, Poes, Martins, Rasnics, Raleys--grew new, bigger, and brighter corners of our hearts as we welcomed Caroline into our family.
And my gift from God, Scott, was now the proud father of the two most beautiful children ever to walk the face of this earth. He never doubted his ability to love these two girls profoundly and with exactly the same measure. Scott's my hero for many reasons, just so you know.
And here we are three years later...
Honestly, I cannot remember how it felt to be afraid of not loving this gift as much as her big sister. The thought is truly incredulous to me now. I've had three years, as well as my entire lifetime, to be in this moment. And it's so precious to me that I cling to it tightly, guarding it each day.
Happy Third Birthday, Caroline Raley! I thank God for making me your mother, and I thank you for showing me I'll never fully realize just how enormous my heart is. Because I'm quite certain this heart of mine is no longer contained in my chest...it has grown to envelop every fiber of my being.
Thank you for completing our family, Caroline. Daddy, Sissy, and I love you far beyond what my limited words can express.
Now...wanna watch Scooby and eat something completely unhealthy for breakfast? Good. Me, too. We'll probably get chicken nuggets, fries, and a Coke later on in the day...and then we'll both take a nap. In honor of your birthday, of course.