Monday, November 05, 2007

Brace Yourself

I have just put Stella down after a long day. It has not been a difficult day or a particularly grand day. Just a day. Her grandpa came over and played with her. She put her stuffed animals to sleep over and over again. Her bears, Papa and Baby, a lion who she calls, appropriately, "Rrrarr," her cat that she calls, "No," which is her version of a cat's meow. That's what she calls cats--No.

She tucked them in and bid them all a "Nigh Night." This is how her world works.

She played in the tub and looked up at me with her wet hair and face. It is at this time that her little unibrow is more pronounced than usual. She gathered her "Shish" and her "Gucks" and put them in her bucket.

This is not unusual. This is very normal.

But sometimes it is in the rhythm of these very normal tasks that I am overwhelmed. And, embarrassingly, I am moved to tears at the sight of my own child.

Our child, our children, my child. What is it that is so overwhelming? To me it is the fact that here is this little cosmic force that I have unleashed into the world. She will grown and change and still be, cliche as it is, my baby.

As I held her before bed I told her that she's my favorite first baby. I was flooded with the memories of two years ago. Before she was born. All the expectancy. All that I had no idea about. All that was prescient and on its way. I knew that life would change, but I assumed that change would be in diapers, in physical labor, in the amount of bodily fluids I came into contact with on a regular basis.

When you read about how to prepare for a child--as a consumer--you're told to get multiples of everything. Multiple bed sheets, multiple burp rags, onesies, sleepers, blankets and on and on. If you've never had a child before you're thinking, perhaps, "I know this child of mine will be loved by me, but I cannot conceive of that love yet. But I do know that it will pee through its sleepers and poop all over the bed and spit up on the blankets. I can conceive of that. I know how to prepare for that."

It is impossible to prepare for the love and the fear that enters your life when you have a child. I look at Stella--all two years of her--and I think of all that she has ahead. All the superlatives of life and the firsts and the work and fun and it blows my mind to think of her out and about acting on her desires and dreams. It's thrilling and frightening.

And I think of how this evening I was sorting through some of Gianna's clothing that she has outgrown. I made a pile to save. Such a mundane action with so much pluck. I made a pile to save for another child. I think of how my perspective has changed. This time last year I found out that Gigi was on her way. And now it all seems so brilliantly timed. Really, there was no timing. There was no planning for either child. But what if I had planned. What if I had planned on waiting until we were married for three year before I had a child? Three years was last December--two months before my ovarian cancer.

Life is unpredictable. And I know it might see macabre to say this. But when I find myself quiet and alone with either child, sniffing their heads and handling their limbs and taking in the weight of their body against mine I have to imagine a life without them. A life after them. A life if they were taken from me. I have to know it would be OK--after a long while--to carry on. That these children, these gifts from God to me, make my life so full but they do not complete it. If I don't realize this my daily flounderings are much more devastating.

I have to tell myself that it's OK to write whatever I want to remember here. I find myself editing things before I write them down. But I realize this blog is a future gift from me to my children. I want them to be able to look back and know how deeply and daily they are loved. And part of the love that I have for them is couched in a fear of losing them.

That is something this last year has given me. Something for which I am thankful as I enter into this season of thanks and giving.


Christa said...

I had no idea how much was going to love Stella and Gigi either. They made my day today! I laughed the whole way home thinking about them. This is family.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying so eloquently what is in every mother's heart.