Lacey had enjoyed being a mother so much that she had done it five times. She and her husband Brian were proud parents of three boys and two girls, and she wished they had more, especially now that the three oldest kids were in college and the two youngest were in high school.
“We’ll be alone again soon,” Lacey lamented. “I’ll miss having children around.”
Brian nodded as if he wasn’t paying attention. “Sure, sweetheart,” he replied.
Lacey grinned. She adored Brian, and she adored the fact that he always knew how she felt.
Lacey’s marriage was flipped upside down three days later. She was on the beach with her dog when she heard a baby wail near the old abandoned lifeguard hut. The dog barked in the park and ran towards the hut. Lacey followed it and saw it cheerfully wagging his tail as he stopped running. Three children stood in front of the dog.
The first two appeared to be five and four, respectively, while the third was a baby still in the stroller. The two older children appeared terrified while the baby appeared distressed and hungry.
Lacey approached the children cautiously in order not to scare them. The children remained motionless while looking at the woman approaching them, unsure what to do.
“Hello, what is your name?” Lacey inquired, bending so she could be at eye level with the children.
The oldest boy stated, “My name is Drew. Kim is my brother, and Will is my nephew. He’s two years old,” he said while gesturing to each of the other children as he talked.
“My name is Lacey,” she introduced herself. “And where is your mother?”
“Mom went to grab burgers,” he confidently stated, although there seemed to be a sign of uncertainty in his voice. “But she could have gotten lost because it’s been a long time.”
Lacey thought, “How long has she been gone?” Drew inquired.
“Yesterday,” Drew explained, “but I know she’ll return.”
So, the children had been there since the previous day, Lacey thought, and wondered how scared they must have been, and hungry as well. Her gaze traveled to the baby who seemed to have resigned to fate and had begun to suck on his thumb.
“I’ll tell you something. How about I take you out for a burger, and then we can find your mother?” Lacey said. This sounded like a good idea to the hungry children.
“She won’t know where we are if she returns. We’ll leave a note for her,” Drew said. “Here is a smart one,” Lacey thought to herself.
“All right,” Lacey said. She scribbled a message and fastened it onto the door of the dilapidated lifeguard hut. “I’ve also written down my mobile number so she can contact us.”
Drew nodded, and with that, the woman grabbed the stroller and began to push it forward. The children followed her closely while the dog ran ahead of them. The children were quiet all through the walk. Lacey didn’t want to frighten them, so she didn’t say a word except for occasional smiles, which she sent in their direction. She pushed the stroller slowly so the children could match the pace with the little kids.
Lacey took the kids to a seaside burger restaurant and asked the children what they wanted before placing an order. Then she contacted the police and child services while they ate. She then returned to the table and placed an order for milkshakes. The children seemed cheerful and at ease.
That’s when Will reached over and stroked Lacey on the cheek. “Are you now our mother?” he inquired. This sounded so cute that Lacey, who couldn’t bring herself to comprehend how fast the loyalty of the children shifted, smiled at Will and gently rubbed his back.
“No,” Lacey mumbled, “but let’s try to track down your mother. You’ll see what I mean,” she said, trying to sound as sure as she could.
But Child Services were less optimistic. They were aware that if someone desired to vanish, they could.
“She’s got three mouths to feed,” Lacey’s social worker noted, “and she’s only 19 years old. She’s been a mother since she was 14, and she probably longed for independence. If she ever returns, it will be after she is in her late 30s and kids no longer want her services.”
“That’s terribly unfortunate,” Lacey remarked, trying to understand how bad the situation could be for a mother to leave such little and innocent children all alone. It made no sense to her.
“But these kids are so adorable and youthful. I’m confident that many families will take them,” she concluded.
“No,” the social worker said, “it’s against our policy to separate siblings. We can usually fit two or three at the most. These small boys will be in foster care for a long time.”
Lacey returned home and informed Brian and her high school-aged children of what had occurred.
“Are you kidding me? Such unfortunate infants,” Lacey remarked, sensing the possible direction this conversation was headed.
Brian empathized with the children a little. “I hope they find a home soon for them all.”
Three of them Lacey sighed, but she recalled Will’s question, “Are you our mother now?” She inhaled deeply.
“Why don’t we take in these three kids, Brian?”
“What, all three of them?” Lacey nodded in confirmation.
“Yes, Brian, all of them.”
“Are you serious?” Brian asked again.
“Why not?” Lacey inquired.
“Come on, we’re doing fantastic. You mentioned having additional children the other day,” she added, knowing that all her husband needed was just a little push.
“No, Brian,” he said flatly. “I said exactly what you wanted to hear. We don’t know these kids, and we owe them nothing. Why do you feel the need to take them in when you only just met these kids a couple of hours ago?”
“What about fundamental compassion? How about love?” Brian exclaimed.
“These are not my children, and I will not spend any money raising them. You desire them, so you go out and get the money to take care of them all by yourself because you’re not going to get anything from me.”
Lacey turned to face her husband. “It’s not about the money, Brian,” she added calmly. “I’ll locate the funds. I’m sorry you turned into such a miser with your affection. How can you hold it against them? You’ve become heartless. I’m curious if you still adore me because if you do, you will want whatever I want. I’m sure deep down you know what the right thing to do is. I only wonder why you’re reluctant to do it.”
Lacey looked at her children, who all had the same look of disapproval as their father. “This is not how I brought you up to be cold and selfish, to shun people who are less fortunate. I must have been a lousy mother for you to turn out this way.”
Brian and the kids exchanged glances before turning away. They were embarrassed, but they were too proud to apologize to Lacey.
Brian felt even worse after learning what Lacey was up to from the family lawyer.
She had put up for sale the beach house she had inherited from her parents, as well as the silver and jewelry her grandmother had left her. Lacey intended to sell her possessions to support the three children.
They knew they had defended her greatly and needed to apologize to her.
Brian and the kids apologized to Lacey that night. “Please, honey, don’t sell anything,” Brian begged. “We have an abundance of funds. You don’t need to sell your inheritance.”
“But do you have enough love? How do I know you will love those kids and take care of them as if they were our family, whether I’m here or not?” Lacey inquired, her gaze fixed on Brian and the two children.
“I’m not going to put those kids in a home where they won’t be loved,” Brian and the two younger children, aged 14-17, pledged to be loving and supportive. Even the older children called from college to assure Lacey that she had their full support.
Lacey was happy that she was able to convince her family. Drew, Kim, and Will were overjoyed to be a part of such a large family with so many big brothers and sisters to spoil them. Lacey’s husband and children also kept their word. They treated the children like family. The boys had no problem fitting into the family; it was as if they were born there originally.
Soon, no one could even conceive what life would be like without the three young children who made their family whole.