Glimpsing The Future

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Alex with Michael newborn

Older images, same sentiment

Two sixth graders in black T-shirts, in a garage on a warm, windy Sunday afternoon. Their friends and their mothers (except for me, because every time I sit up I feel like throwing up) are out in the driveway, cutting and Gorilla gluing and holding pieces of cardboard together until the glue sets, to make a boat for the Food Bank race in two weeks.

 

But these two boys, in their slim black jeans and their black t-shirts advertising basketball and Marvel heroes, the utterly ordinary stuff that preoccupies preteens, have been called into the shady, cool garage by a single noise from the 6-month-old baby sister of Alex’s friend. She’s in a bouncer amusing herself while the crowd works.

Alex goes down on his knees and starts going, “Hi! Hi!” with a big smile. The baby stares at him–let’s face it, probably his glasses. Alex glances up as his friend comes in and tries to wave him off. “I got this,” he says.

“No you don’t!” says Big Brother. “I’ve been dealing with this for, like, ten months!” And because unlike Alex, he has no fear of looking like a fool, he makes truly crazy faces and noises, and thus wins the Make The Baby Smile Challenge.

Two preteen boys, on their hands and knees on a concrete floor, utterly powerless against the charms of a baby.

Alex with Michael changing table

Despite my general not-feeling-good, I enjoy a private chuckle and a big warm fuzzy, and I think, I am glimpsing the distant future.

And it is beautiful.

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The Babies I’ll Never Have

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K and N

Nicholas, March 2009

It is Saturday afternoon and I am folding baby clothes—new, soft, tiny baby clothes—and layering them lovingly into a gift box for one of our choir members. I had forgotten how much I love baby clothes. I love everything about babies. You know, I don’t even hate the diaper changes. Did I get tired of them? Yes. But that was also play time. Tickle time, raspberry time, rubbing-noses time, sing silly songs time.

Besides, I was a breastfeeding mom. Those diapers are different.

Sitting on my bed, assembling this gift, it’s almost crushing, how much I want a baby.

I have to remind myself that I sometimes can barely breathe. How little people are constantly yelling “Mom I want” and “Mommy help me,” how I fluctuate between a wild frustration that they don’t help more than they do and a desire to do it all myself because it’s easier than teaching (and battling) them to do it. How there aren’t enough hours in the day and how long Julianna’s homework takes, and how this year I hardly even weeded my flower beds because I was so busy.

K & M Black & White

My favorite picture ever taken of me.

I have to remind myself that the price of four C sections is “irritable uterus” and the risk of rupture. I need to remember that my primary responsibility is to the family I already have. My job isn’t to keep having babies, just because I love them. It is to raise holy and happy adults. And sooner or later, you have to leave off the former because the latter takes so much time and energy.

My life has entered a new stage. But it’s a sweet pain, folding these baby clothes. I think this is what people in the natural family planning community mean when they say every month you grieve the child you could have had, even though you know it’s not the right time.

I feel it every month now, although some are worse than others. And I wonder if it will eventually fade, or if this is part of who I am now.