Monday, February 13, 2012

About babies

I'm going to pretend I can sit up long enough to write this post, which is by no means a certainty. The back I 'put out' a week ago has gravitated, as such things are wont to do in my compromised system, to the nerves in my left leg, making what is already a 24-7 life of pain a 24-7 blitzkrieg.  I do fairly well when I'm standing, and can tolerate lying down, but sitting is excruciating. Beve, who knows me well, observed that had I not continued to help pack (ie, lift boxes) when I first had the back spasms, this might have been avoided. But I'm stubborn about such things. My need to prove I'm not the weakest link ends up revealing my total weakness.  And trust me, this isn't the first time we've been around this dang block.  I see the doctor Wednesday, but until then...well, let's just say I'm not getting much done.

In other news (as broadcasters would say), this weekend brought a spate of diverse interactions.  Here's one. Saturday, E and I went to the baby shower of a much beloved friend who's the much beloved daughter of a much beloved friend.  It was life-giving to me to be at a life-beginning event. We're so beseiged by endings around here. And I've been somewhat blind in thinking how similar life's beginning and ending are. The likenesses are striking in many ways: the dependence on others, for example, the inabilities to speak, walk, contain one's bowels. All very alike at each end. However, what is patently different is the accompanying emotion at each end. The beginning is full of joy and hope. Any tear shed (assuming all goes well, as it most often does) is a happy tear, a thankful one.  There is no guilt in the beginning either. All is new.  The joy in that room Saturday was life-giving to me, even as consumed by the other end as I have been.  The hope of these young parents and grandparents is a living, almost-breathing little girl, about to make her appearance. So close they can almost touch her. And all their fears--and there are those, too--are about hopeful things, if that makes sense.  How the labor will go, the health of the baby, how they will parent. About life. And about Life in Him for this child. About the endings, I needed tell you much. It's hard and sad, and full of far different emotions. So complicated and endless--and I've been writing about it for weeks (years?) now.

Afterwards, the brother-in-law of this young couple (also a soon-to-be father, and an always serious, intentional young man) asked if 'the wisdom of the elders' is imparted at baby showers. His wife laughingly said such advice is given the whole nine months, which I remember well. However, it sparked my always- thinking brain. So if I'd been asked, this is what'd I'd tell these young couples: get to know your child. Pay less attention to what you ought to do, and more attention to who your child is. Pay attention the In-His-Image child God has created. Train accordingly. For instance, with my oldest, all it took was the snapping of my fingers and a certain look for her to obey, because she wanted to obey. She still does. She likes to color within the lines.  Stay in the boundaries, know her place. I thought I was the best mother in the world because this was so. I thought it was me. It wasn't. It was how she was made. Then God gave us a rambunctious little boy, who once he walked, ran into walls, climbed onto the roof (at 3 years old), built things so he could knock them down things, but also bought gifts often, cried at movies, thought of others, loved lavishly. He didn't care a bit about coloring, let alone staying within the lines. And I had to learn that. Had to learn a whole new way of parenting that worked for him.  Had to get to know him. It isn't a one trick pony, this parenting gig. And, no matter what the law says, the most important thing is NOT the carseat. It's loving them. Marinating them in love, saturating them in prayer, and letting God be the gravity that keeps them tethered to the earth.  And train that child in the way he or she should go--not the way YOU want them to--but the way of their passions, interests, talents, abilities. Watch for what makes them tick and train them toward it. Trust that God made them that way for a purpose, and trust that He intends good for it. Then, when they are old, they will not depart from that way, nor from Him. This isn't ME talking, this is scripture. "Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

That's what I'd have told them about parenting. Oh, and don't keep the house dead quiet while they sleep or you'll create a monster. Teach them to sleep through anything. You'll be glad you did.

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