Six. All boys. And I’d take six more please…
I shared this picture on Instagram all ready, but it’s just too perfect not to blog too. Me and my six boys. The Foothills hospital gives you a teddy bear when your baby doesn’t make it. It seems ridiculous, taking home a teddy bear in a shoebox instead of a baby, and it is. Still, we loved Deacon’s little bear, and it reminds us very dearly of that precious week we spent with our boys. When the bear they gave us for Shepard didn’t match exactly, we immediately ordered him an identical one from eBay. My crafty SIL made the bears little ties that matched the boys’ ties they were buried in exactly in material and size. (Thanks again Jennie!!). These bears sit in a special place always. We move them around the home sometimes as there’s really no shelves of any kind hung on any walls yet! It felt so right using them in our family pictures this year. I’m sure it won’t be the last time!
It’s amazing how many people ask how many kids a person has, and I’m so thankful at how much I LOVE answering it. It used to be harder to answer, and now it’s a little less hard, but mostly I just love a chance to tell someone about all of my boys. My earthly boys represent themselves quite well physically. :) My heavenly boys don’t get that chance, so I love being able to represent for them. The other difficulty is hoping people don’t feel bad for bringing it up. I can tell some do, and I do my best to put them at ease, and I hope it works. We couldn’t be prouder we’ve got SIX boys. SIX BOYS! All dark, brown-haired handsome boys. How is that even possible? Lol. And as if they don’t look alike enough, the fact that two of them are exactly identical? Quite hilarious. And sad, but also hilarious. A part of me will ALWAYS be sad they aren’t here all together, but I don’t want that to ever keep us from sharing a laugh with friends and even strangers that yes, we have six nice, sweet boys! That first we had three boys. And then we had two more exactly identical boys because three similarly looking ones weren’t enough. And then after ALL that, we needed another one. (Did we ever.) But really, it’s so comical and just so great. Ha.
I know telling others their ‘real’ number of how many kids one has is not for everyone, and of course that’s perfectly okay! I support whatever anyone’s heart needs to do to conquer the day. Or just whatever plain feels right in their heart. I definitely also want to offer support to anyone who wants to say their real number, but can’t. (It’s HARD.) For me, I couldn’t not say six. Anything other than six is a lie. Like it almost makes me laugh out loud to think of telling someone I only have four boys? How absurd. Why aren’t my heavenly boys just as real as my earthly ones? Especially given our faith and knowledge of heaven. I know Shepard and Deacon are a heck of a lot busier (if that’s possible) than even these four busy boys on earth are. I have six busy boys. They are just as real and just as much ours as my arms and legs are my limbs. It’s the very definition of eternal families, the essence of our entire LDS faith and gospel.
So here’s basically what I say with a smile when asked. :) “I’ve actually had six boys! We unfortunately lost twin boys, so I have four earthly boys and two heavenly ones.” Sometimes when it’s a complete stranger, say in Ikea for example, I just leave it at six boys, and I selfishly indulge in and soak up their astoundement and admiration. Because when I don’t mention the twins are in heaven, I don’t have to see how sorry they feel for us in their eyes. (Which is understandable and fine, of course.) But we just get to have a moment to enjoy our six boys untouched by grief. It’s wonderful, and strangers are my favourite.
The strangers at the Victoria’s Secret counter have been among my most memorable. Ha ha! I was by myself, they didn’t believe I was even a mom, and when they asked how many kids, their jaws dropped. Especially I’m sure because I was still buying lingerie at that point. Lol! I had to laugh. Another great one was when a new friend from our cruise who couldn’t believe a person could even have six kids who said after, “well actually that’s not that surprising, I’ve seen the way ya’ll dance with each other up in the club.” Cue the cry laugh emoji. I promise our dancing was G-rated! Too funny.
Sending a christmas card out is one of my favourite ways to involve the twins in our lives. Last year life was busy and it didn’t get done, and it was a bummer. So this year I kept it simple and used a pre-made card through Pro Digital Photos in Utah. I did add the snow and the phrase to, “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” It turned out perfect! Thanks as usual to Leah for taking adorable photos of my family for me. You have no idea how many pictures are complete throwaways due to the awkwardness that is her sister. Lol.
So for anyone who struggles with their real number, just do it! For the longest time I just don’t think discussing anything of such a sad nature with others in small talk was even thought appropriate, but society is changing, and you and I can help normalize it so for whoever wants to say their real number, can. Just maybe we can reach a point where people won’t be so surprised to hear someone mention their children in heaven, stillborn or not, or to even have someone mention miscarriages that happened in between (because those are enormous events that shouldn’t be taboo and deserve to be made mention of it that’s what a mom needs to do). Because to me, discussing family members who are in heaven is just as real as discussing family members in the next room. For many people it is the same! So why not say it out loud to one another? Why keep these truths to ourselves? It hurts to think of a mom telling someone her wrong number, knowing she aches a little more each time to not say the real number, but choosing to let herself hurt about it rather than possibly make another feel awkward. And let’s not forget about the dads. They hurt too and can be just as sensitive and loving as any mother out there. You are brave enough. People are kind, and they want you to feel comfortable saying whatever number your heart feels it needs to. I promise! Even if your number comes with a small explanation. There’s no greater feeling on earth than for a mama with children in heavenly realms to celebrate ALL of your children. And it doesn’t hurt that the minute you tell someone you do have a few heavenly children and a few earthly ones, it immediately softens their heart a little, and gives them a bit more understanding into your heartaches and hurts you have to bear. The world can never have too much of extra softening and understanding.
I started the tradition of a white heavenly tree for our Shepard and Deacon in our home this year. I put two identical ornaments on it each year we aren’t together. It makes my heart full to think of adding beautiful ornaments to it every year and watch it grow. It makes my heart completely burst to think of the year we are together, and we don’t have to add to this tree anymore, but we can just enjoy it together. And I can tell them all about our tree, and the reasons behind my choice for each ornament. I also can’t wait for the family to open their gift from the twins this Christmas morning! Christmas is in six sleeps!!! Can you even imagine what Christmas is like in heaven? Celebrating Christ’s birth WITH Christ? Celebrating Christmas in a place where every single person is literally a perfect angel? Do you think all of their trees are white? It seems unfathomably celestial. Kind of like eternal families. Merry Christmas. :)