Sadie: "Do you have a mother?"
Me: "Yes. Momma T is my mother."
Sadie: "I thought Aunt Abbe was your mother."
Me: "No, Aunt Abbe is my sister."
Sadie: "Oh. Do you have a father?"
Me: "Well, yes."
Sadie: "Who is he?"
Me: "His name is Harley Joe." (I was about to tell her that she'd never met him before but she interrupted with another question.)
Sadie: "Who is your stepdad?"
Me: "Poppa C."
Sadie: "What's your brother's name?"
Me: "Uncle Matt."
Sadie: "And did Uncle Matt get older and then he died?" (I say yes.) "Did he get married and then he died?"
Me: "Well, yes..." (again interrupted before I could give a further explanation.)
Sadie: "Do people get married and then they die?"
Me: "No, honey. Daddy and I are married and we're still alive. Getting married doesn't make you die."
Sadie: "And when you and Daddy die will I have to have other Mommies and Daddies?"
Me: "Well, I hope you won't ever need another Mommy, sweetheart. Or another Daddy." (Justin and I have talked about what we would do if either of us died young or while our kids are young. I would want him to remarry if he found someone and he'd want the same for me. Our first priority is the kids, though, and making sure that whoever that person may be would treat them like their own...not replacing either of us but filling the motherly or fatherly Christian role model they might otherwise lack.)
Sadie: "Mommy, I don't want you to get sick and die."
Me: "Honey, I don't have any intention of doing that. But you know, that's not totally within my control..." (interrupted again)
Sadie: "Does everybody die?"
Me: "There has only been one person that I know of who never died and that's Elijah. He was taken straight up to heaven. But everyone else, yes. Even Jesus died."
Sadie: "Jesus died and God loves us now?"
Me: "Well, God has always loved us. Jesus died because He loves us and God sent Jesus because He loves us and wants us to be with Him forever."
Sadie: "And now God is with us all the time?"
Me: "Yes. His Holy Spirit lives in us all the time and He's always with us."During this whole conversation I prayed, "Oh, Lord, please help." I felt His Spirit telling me to just answer her questions honestly, lovingly, and to the best of my ability. Don't get bogged down in long explanations. Short answers are enough and you'll both be fine. (That wasn't a problem since she wouldn't pause long enough for me to bother with lengthy explanations.) Most of us moms often concern ourselves with scarring our children by how we answer their questions, how we respond to them, or how we help them make sense of the world around them. We don't want them to be fearful. Explaining to your 3 year old daughter about your blended family (including an absentee father), death, and God's role in all that can strike fear into the heart of any mom...particularly when caught off guard. We must always be ready to give an answer, certainly, but in my short 6 years and 10 months of experience as a mom, I've learned that it's o.k. for that answer to be, "I don't know.", that children are so resilient that fowling up a conversation like this isn't liable to scar them for life, and most importantly...praying fervently over our children and for wisdom as parents is absolutely essential for their spiritual development and well-being. They were God's children before they were ever our own, and they are still His. He is in control. As much as we may think we are, we are not. The sooner we learn that lesson, the better off they will be (and we will too).
I sometimes worry about future conversations that I know are bound to come about how my brother died or how my family of origin came to be and what that means for them. Given our country's current culture war, I may even have to explain why their friend at school has two daddies and no mommy or vice versa, or why "Billy" kissed another boy, or why that's not o.k., etc. I don't expect that the questions will get any easier as they get older. Honestly, they have already asked me how their Uncle Matt died and the best thing I knew to tell them at this point was that he died of a broken heart (Having a child with Asperger's Syndrome who takes things very literally also gives me pause with this answer. The last thing I want to do is confuse him but I didn't know what else to say.). I know they will eventually want more of an answer than that, though. I'm not really looking forward to that day. I'm trying to anticipate these questions but not fret over them. God is still God. He is in control and I need not worry. I'll just take things one day at a time and surrender my will to My Creator repeatedly until it becomes second nature and I no longer have to make that a conscious choice. After all, sufficient for the day is its own trouble and I'm not God. He's got the whole world in His hands. I don't. Thank goodness! :)