Some little girls picture their weddings, with pillowcases covering their heads they dance around their bedrooms.

Other little girls picture themselves as teachers filling classrooms with stuffed animals as they prepare lesson plans and lectures.

I think we all of inclinations and inklings of our gifts and talents from a very early age and for me, I’ve pictured myself as mother to a houseful of boys for as long as I can remember.

It’s been a struggle, over the years, as practicality and reality have played out—exercising their authority well beyond our control.

After our first pregnancy, and again recently, we’ve had to come to terms with the size and shape of our family being something we don’t get to define.

I remember in the interim before we got pregnant with Luke, coming up with elaborate plans to put our possessions in storage and travel the world, exhausting a nest egg we wouldn’t need if it was just the two of us.

But, while I firmly believe in finding the upside in any Plan B, I had trouble defining how I’d fill the gapping hole in my life that I knew was there to be a mother.

Fortunately for me, the universe is prepared to beat me over the head…repeatedly…with the lessons I need to learn.

On Christmas Eve 2012, my side of the family got together for our celebration. In the throws of grief having lost our first son just two months earlier, I was searching for some sense of normalcy. Our nephew Gavin was just four at the time, and a bundle of sweetness and energy that make me partial to little boys. As he settled on my laugh and we both burst into fits of giggles giving each other “pufferfish kisses”, I felt honestly happy for the first time in months as I realized my ability to love and mother could go way beyond any child I bring into the world.

It brings me to tears every time I think about how much comfort each of our nephews and niece give me. And even from the otherside of the country, I hope they feel supported and deeply loved.

I’m thankful each and every day for the opportunity to raise a child but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how desperately we want our family to grow.

In the last few months we’ve had to think long and hard about our ability to have another child; and, if we’re prepared for the physical strain it would put me through if something went wrong again. Sitting here today, I just don’t have the answer to that question. Following drs. orders, we’ve had to take time off from exploring that which I believe has been a very good thing.

In the meantime, thankfully, the universe is chiming in to remind me that my vision isn’t the only way this magical life works.

In May we celebrated my sister’s marriage by dancing wildly with our niece and nephews. (Okay, not Jack who at 15 was mortified to even know us all, let alone participate.)

11060169_10153460652629898_8378640166429362647_nA few weekends ago we went camping with a dear friend and his daughter. His wife, who isn’t much for camping, met us for a few hours Saturday morning. But for the bulk of the weekend, I got to hang solo with these two guys and enthusiastic toddlers. When Harper was struggling to sleep in new surroundings, away from her own bed and comforts of home, we got to cuddle by the campfire and read stories in her tent.

Last weekend we visited friends with a brand new baby boy. Joshua gave me a squinty, newborn examination before deciding my lap was a perfectly great place to take a nap.

And as it would so happen, a college friend of mine who hasn’t met Mr. Right has decided life is too short and there are two many children who need homes to wait for motherhood to begin. She just shared that she’s finishing her home inspection on the journey to become a foster mom.

I feel so personally and fully invested in the lives of my friends’ and siblings’ children, that I know for sure if Lucas is our one and only, we’re going to carry on in this life just fine. Vice versa, in sharing our story, we’ve seen a host of individuals—women and men alike—who are particularly invested in Luke and his future, that I know we’re not the only ones shaping who this kid is going to be.

Life doesn’t always pan out the way we’ve pictured it. And I’ve yet to meet someone where that hasn’t been true in some way. But, I think if there’s a way to find the alternative route–to get close or even halfway there–you can make the most of just about anything.