I have two children and always wanted more, but that wasn’t what happened. I have written elsewhere about how I have moved through my grief of only having two children, but what has caught me by surprise is my daughter’s grief over not having any more siblings.
My daughter has always wanted to be the oldest. She has wanted younger siblings to spoil, to boss around and share her bedroom with. What she doesn’t realize is sharing your bedroom with a younger sibling isn’t always as fun as she thinks it is. Instead, she is the youngest. The last.
Regardless, this girl has spent at least the last five years praying every night for a sibling. She has begged her father for the past two years to let us adopt. Every chance she gets, she plays with babies and requests one of her own.
Recently, one of her good friends whose family makeup is similar to ours, got news that they were going to have a new baby. When my daughter heard this, she was devastated. She was raging with green-eyed jealousy. Why could they have a new baby and she could not? She wasn’t very nice to her friend and came home saying how her friend just kept going on and on about all the wonderful things they were going to do with their new baby.
This caught me off guard. I knew I had grief and unmet expectations regarding this issue. I worked very hard to move past it in a healthy way. I had been very angry with God over it working out this way and it had taken time and work to repair that relationship. What I didn’t realize was just how strongly she cared about having more siblings and that she would need to work through grief and jealousy too, just like me. I needed to guide her through the process I had already spent a few years going through.
I held her while she cried great big tears of grief. I didn’t scold her for her treatment of her friend, we could address that later. I let her talk and share her feelings with me. We talked about how there was nothing wrong with her desire to be a big sister and have more siblings. That she could protect her heart as her friend shares her joy over becoming a big sister again, and that despite our disappointment in the circumstances we may find ourselves in, we could be happy for their family and rejoice that their prayers were answered.
But how do you explain to a 10-year-old why her friend’s prayers were answered and hers were not—at least not in the way she wanted them to be? Adults much older, wiser and more experienced with their testimony of Christ have wrestled with this very question. This is where testimony begins. This is where we start finding out for ourselves that God loves us and cares for us despite not receiving desired answers to prayers, and we can trust him. As her mother, I’m equally excited for her to start this process and terrified at the same time. But, I have faith she can find her way through and find peace in spite of not having more siblings.