Welcome, Autumn

Published by the Casper Journal October 4, 2011

Last week we celebrated autumn with a joyful harvest. Among other things, we harvested our garden ... a bit unexpectedly. The overnight frost forced us to gather tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, potatoes and onions into our dining room. Our kitchen table suddenly became a cornucopia, spilling over onto the floor. Although we were sorry for the end of the season, we were filled with joy at seeing what our labors had produced. The spring and summer months of planting, weeding and watering were suddenly worth it.

The same day of the harvest, we also had a baby. I don’t care if you’ve had one or two children, or even seven, eight or nine ... nothing in life compares to the arrival of a newborn.

To say it’s a miracle (like the harvest) is an understatement. It’s a series of miracles, culminating in a tiny bundle that somehow connects heaven to earth.

Any mother will tell you it’s hard — harder than anything in this world. It can only compare to standing on death’s doorstep, and then somehow walking past, unharmed.

Any father will tell you it’s heart-wrenching — to see someone you love in distress, but then to suddenly have two someones to love ... all in the same room, within just a moment’s time.

Any child will tell you it’s joyful. Anticipating our baby was like a month of Christmas Eves. “Is the baby coming today?” was the constant question at the breakfast table for weeks before she arrived. And when she finally did come (10 days late), it was better than Christmas.

The children arrived to meet their new sister one at a time. Our two-year-old was flabbergasted. She stopped in the doorway and took a full five minutes to take everything in. We watched her little mind turn as she looked from me to the baby and back at me again. Soon she was sitting on my lap, a huge smile on her face, playing the role of big sister.

Our middle children erupted into the room with squeals of joy. “She’s beautiful! Look at her hair! When will she open her eyes?” Better than brightly wrapped presents, the energy was tangible.
Our older children came in quietly, reverently, remembering this experience from before. With an almost sacred demeanor they took their turn to hold and kiss her. Our joy was full.

The weeks of work and pain were over. Our harvest was complete. It had all been worth it.

The feeling that lingered during the following days was tangible, a mixture of heaven and Christmas, sacred but celebratory. The children rushed home after school each day to claim their turn holding her, watching the infamous diaper change or choosing the next pink outfit.

The proud Papa syndrome set in as well, and within a day, every child had a photo book to share and Almond “Joy” candy bars to hand out at school (we don’t do cigars).

Is the harvest all joy? Not necessarily. The long nights, the laundry, the certain tears will take their toll, seeds for another harvest, when she’s grown. But that’s a different circle, and for now our labor is complete.

“Why do you have so many children?” is the constant question in our lives. We will be the first to admit that it’s hard, a definite sacrifice. Like our garden outside, our indoor garden requires constant attention: weeding, working, waiting. However, despite the pain, nothing compares to the joy.

Whether it’s miracle number one or miracle number nine, the price is the same, the prize is the same, the yield is just as full.

No, despite the recent frost, I don’t mind fall. I embrace the changing weather with all its golden (and baby pink) glory. It’s time to celebrate. It’s time to harvest. It’s time to take joy. In our home we say, “Welcome, Autumn.”

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