There’s a miracle story in the Bible that’s so important that it shows up in all four Gospels.It takes place on a crowded hillside where thousands of people have gathered to hear Jesus preach. It gets to be late in the day, and the people are getting hungry. Someone starts passing around a basket of bread and fish. It’s barely enough for one family, but somehow everyone gets fed with plenty left over. There’s enough to go around. 

Love is like that, somehow. Even when it seems like there can’t possibly be enough, there is. 

I want my kids to know they are loved, fully and equally. I want them to know there will always be enough of me to go around. I want our family to be a place where we practice that sort of miracle, knowing there will be times we don’t do it very well. I want our family to be a place where even when it feels like we’re giving up everything, we’re finding ourselves again. I want our family to share. 

Sharing is risky business, of course. The other kid at the sandbox could break the shovel if you let him play with it. You might not get your doll back. Sharing my body with these two children means I may never again fit into that cute brown dress I bought pre-pregnancy. Sharing my life with these three other people means I don’t get much quiet time to read; it means the house is almost always a little more cluttered (and sometimes a lot more cluttered) than I’d like. Rob and I are tied to each other’s schedules, our lives are intertwined in a way they never were before. Sometimes we step on one another’s toes—literally and metaphorically. Sometimes the thing we’re sharing is a case of pinkeye that sends us all to the doctor for eye drops. 

But the great thing about sharing is that it goes both ways. Never, in The Giving Tree, does the boy bring water or fertilizer to the tree; the giving is completely one-sided. Sharing, almost by definition, demands reciprocity. “Pregnancy and care of children,” writes Miller-McLemore, “present an opportunity to realize, perhaps for the first time, that sacrifice—responsiveness to others, and autonomy—responsiveness to oneself—are not mutually exclusive.”8 Sharing is giving, and sometimes it’s sacrifice. But it’s not an all-consuming sacrifice that leaves us with nothing. Instead, it’s the kind of giving that comes right back to us, sometimes in unexpected ways. 

Being in a family doesn’t mean giving up who you are. It means sharing who you are. It’s not without risk. Our toys, our bodies, our beds, our homes might come back a little worse for the wear. But living faithfully requires a trust that there will be enough to go around. There’s enough room in the bedroom for both Harper and Jonathan. There’s enough room on my lap for both of them. The hope, here, on those days when I feel stretched to the limit and there are too many people in my bed, is the assurance that there is enough. 

This morning, Harper came into the bathroom while I was in the shower. Though we’re working on privacy, we still pretty much have an open-door policy in our bathroom, and there are often moments in the morning rush when all four of us are in there. (Why yes, I am dreading the teenage years.) But this morning Rob was off at the gym, and Jonathan was still in his crib, so it was just the two of us. She was in a good mood and dressed already—something of a miracle in itself—and though I don’t think she had anything she needed to do in the bathroom, she gravitates toward people and doesn’t like to be alone. 

“Hi, Mom,” she said, from the other side of the shower curtain. “I love you.” 

I smiled and said I loved her too, and went back to washing my hair. 

“What comes after L in love, Mom?” she asked a minute later. 

“O,” I said, and vaguely wondered what she was doing. She’s just on the verge of reading these days, and often sounds out words or wants to know how to spell something. 

When I turned off the water and reached for my towel, she was standing next to the tub, grinning at me. “Look what I did, Mom. See?” In the fog on the mirror above the sink, she had written the words Mom and Love and had drawn a lopsided smiley face. “Because I couldn’t get in the shower to hug you.” 

Love is a miracle. 


This article is adapted and excerpted from Hopes and Fears: Everyday Theology for New Parents and Other Tired, Anxious People  by Bromleigh McCleneghan and Lee Hull Moses, copyright © 2012 by the Alban Institute. All rights reserved.

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