Thursday, July 15, 2010

Babies

Today something happened so real and heart-wrenching that I suggested my cure-all for just such a situation as this: go stand in the shower and cry.  I mean cry long and hard and about everything you ever needed to cry about.  Once you get started, it won't be just this--this one real, sad thing--but every other real, sad thing like when your sister used to bite you then tell you she'd give you candy if you didn't tell Mom and Dad, like how your brother beat up on you, held knives over your head and that surely made you however crazy you are today; how you married too young or didn't marry at all, or had to work or didn't get to work, or whatever comes pouring out once those necessary tears start and combine themselves with the cleansing water out of the rainwater shower head that never felt quite so perfect as it does when it sluices down your cheeks with the salt.

Yep, there was this kind of moment in this day for someone I know and love.  And for me as well.  But it seems to me I've done nothing but post these kind of sad posts lately, and I'm not feeling it today.  There's time enough yet.

Today I'm thinking of babies.  I know, crazy, huh?  I haven't had a baby for about 21 and a half years, haven't wanted one for about half that time, but last night E and I watched some TLC show about a woman--older than me, which is, frankly, older than Methuselah--who was pregnant with her first child.  55 years old, which in our state means she qualifies for senior citizen discounts, and pregnant with her first child.  And dear old dad was ten years older with a 35 year old daughter.  E had to tell me to shut my incredulous mouth more than once during the program.  "Is it disgusting you, Mom?" she kept asking.  Not disgusting, but something.  I kept thinking of all the energy it takes to have children.  Just this summer I've been working with a young man who has a 17 month old daughter.  He came in one day last week and said she'd slept through the night for the first time.  He got up, crept into her bed and peered down to make sure her chest was rising and falling, a behavior I remember perfectly from E's first full-night's sleep.  This young man looks like he hasn't slept in a year and a half.  He really does.  Poor thing.  And, at the end of that show last night, the retirement age dad looked like he'd aged at least another decade in the 6 weeks after their baby was born.  It was shocking to see how exhaustion had aged him.  Poor, poor thing.


Ah, yes, our babies.  Our three-in-three-and-a-half-years babies. They are the reasons Beve and I didn't sleep for six years, the reasons we learned to sleep in small corners of our king-sized bed (before an older sister-in-law told us of their sleeping bag under the bed system, which we gladly began employing for the two in the pink and the blue pjs here--for a long, long time).  They are the reasons I sometimes put my coffee mug in the refrigerator instead of the microwave to heat it up, and were constantly losing our keys.  I realize that people throughout history have gone to therapy to blame their parents for many significant issues in their lives, and with good reason.  However, it's also fair to say that we were far more sane before we had small children, far more able to make lists and stick to them, to dream and plan and check those plans off our lists.

But look at those faces, the bright eyes and adorable smiles.  Yes, E is sporting the very short haircut Beve's mother felt free to give her (I've almost gotten over it, really I have), but even if I wouldn't have cut her blond locks off, I love her face.  And those chubby cheeks of the younger two.  I'd have given every minute of sleep for them, every ounce of food, every drop of blood.  And I can't imagine my life without them.  I can't imagine getting to 55 years old and being pregnant, but I can imagine the burning craving desire that drove this woman to press on despite her age.

I have friends like this woman.  Friends who tried for years.  One, just my age, now has a very special 5 year old son.  A son not of her womb, but certainly intended by God for her and her husband.  He has special needs, you see, and they have both resources and the resolve to give him everything he needs.  My friend is uniquely suited to be this boy's mother, his chief protector, advocate, guide.  She spent years as a teacher, years in the labyrinth of education so that she can advocate for him in the coming years.  It's amazing to see how God has used every part of her life to prepare her for his.

And there is, of course, Sarah.  Abraham's wife.  You know the old lady who hoped and dreamed of a child, plotted for it when it didn't seem to be happening ('Just take Hagar, dear.' Can you imagine?) and finally, laughed in God's face when He told her she was about to have a son.  "You have got to be kidding me," was in that laugh.  But perhaps too a bit of hysterical hope.  Hope-dead-within-her-hope laughter.  "Are you sure?  Really?"  Questioning God because she was looking at her own  wrinkled face in the mirror rather than at Him.

You know those three adorable chublets?  If I had had my way, if my plan had been followed, not one of them would be here.  That's the truth.  I know this isn't everyone's story.  I know many people have plans, and they follow them and they work out just fine.  But I'm glad every time I think of it that God took the decision out of our hands, and gave us who He intended us to parent.  Those three who became these three amazing young adults.

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