It took one proverbial red sock to turn the entire load of newborn baby clothing pink. I sat back on my heels, my swelling belly moving with the unknown gender of our third child, and I just laughed. I held up piece after piece, clothing so obviously fit for a boy, and examined it, remembered it. Two boys into this motherhood game and the third was a mystery. But was it? I had a basket of pink to prove otherwise.
I am a storyteller and I do love a good story. I could see it written, typed onto the screen in twelve point font, as clear as if I had written it myself. Mommy washes boy laundry. Cue the hidden red sock. Laundry turns pink. Could it be about the sweetest way of discovering the gender of my last and final baby? I hadn’t really wished or prayed for a girl and never—not once—felt empty without one. But the pink laundry felt like a sugar and spice and everything nice soundtrack—a symphony disguised neatly as a sitcom title sequence.
Wasn’t it just like God to write a beautiful story like that?
But when the baby was born, he, most definitely was not fit for pink.
Our soundtrack turned into snips and snails and puppy dog tails and we rejoiced in the surprise that was simply him. And for awhile that laundry basket of pink clothes sat, ignored in the corner of the laundry room, because life was happening around us and who has time to edit a story that was never really a story to begin with?
I was never heartbroken for the girl I thought I was going to have but I did start feeling a little like the story had failed me. It would’ve been so good. Why would that happen—the dramatic changing from one thing to another—if it wasn’t supposed to be good?
How does one redeem such an obvious error and turn it into poetry? Or do we occasionally have to open our arms to that which is washed up, used up, dyed-wrong and pack it away and pretend it was never whispered into our heart?
Fast forward five years. We receive a call about taking in a 4 month old baby girl. Five years prior I would never have considered us becoming foster parents (and by “never would have considered” I mean I said I would never, never, never do it)—but here we were, on the phone, saying yes to something God had stamped onto our hearts, and to a baby girl, no less. We had actually requested only boys because we had three of our own and we knew boys. We understood boys. We could handle boys. But over the years God had been adding a few words here, a few words there and before I realized it, He had begun typing up something beautiful . . . a better story than I could ever have written on my own.
It’s like my pink laundry was a foretelling. A story that could’ve been so good but became better because I wasn’t the one writing it. She arrived and something deep and poignant infiltrated our home on that warm August night—a permanent change of sweet color. But it has not been easy. It’s been hard. And heartbreaking. It’s involved a lot of crying and fear and confusion and hard, sweaty work. I spent much of the first three months crying in the privacy of the bathroom or the shower or behind big sunglasses whenever thoughts of sending her back flitted across my mind.
How can we be allowed to love someone so deeply and not be guaranteed tomorrow? But then again, are we really meant to love any other way?
Give it time and life has a way of moving forward, feet on the ground, one foot in front of the other. You find a new way of living and loving when you’ve forever been dyed into a new, deeper shade of yourself. With all the pain and uncertainty of our foster care situation, there has been an unveiling of holy things. The “author and perfecter of our faith” has written peace into the unpleasant gaps. Where any fear remains, a bright beauty shines through the cracks—a glorious suffering that finds comfort in the brokenness.
That load of pink clothes, the pile in the corner—well, they never fit my girl anyway. I can see now that they were never meant to. But I do thank God for that little red sock. It was the start of something big and it came from something small. You see, my story has never been washed up, used up or dyed-wrong. It’s perfect in His timing, not mine. And that’s something I can open my arms to and embrace. And while I’m at it, keep them open for so much more to come.