Sunday, November 25, 2007


At my church, the first 15 minutes the children are in the regular service with their parents, then they leave to go to Sunday school--or the baby room, as it is with me. Most parents come back into the service after delivering their kids to the appropriate place, but I stay in the baby room the rest of the time, as Frances has a complete fit if I leave her there. Today I dashed to the bathroom for just a moment and I told her when I was leaving that I'd be RIGHT BACK, but it was no good. Poor girl cried giant tears until she spotted me coming through the door. When I leave her with Carol or my mom or Mitch's folks or even our neighbor Hannah she just smiles and waves at me, but something about that baby room does not please her. She looks up after happily playing awhile and there's no one there she knows well, and she feels all alone and abandoned and I think she panics. The first time I first brought her she was completely entertained and enjoying herself so I said goodbye and went back to the service. Then someone had to come get me ten minutes later. This happened a couple of times, so these days I just stay with her.

So today, after I'd gotten settled on a Boppy on the floor, a woman who was dropping off a kid at Sunday school came over to speak with me. She said she'd so enjoyed watching Frances be her independent self during the service (I spent our 15 minutes trying to corral her and keep her from shouting just to hear the echo—a kind of convincing that didn't work well). She said she enjoyed watching my interaction with her and that it all reminded her of her first child. It turns out her first two kids were 15 months apart, and her third was 20 months after the second. "The third was a blessing," she said and nodded. A blessing?! When I asked what she meant, she said that with the first two she was still trying to hold it all together—keep the house clean, cook dinner, shower. And with the third she just let it all go. She realized what was important because she simply couldn't do more, and counted a day as a success as long as everyone's butts were clean and tummies were full. I can see that. It's funny that we'd call something that forces us to GIVE UP a blessing, but sometimes we need that yank on our chains. Sometimes it's the things that shake us—tragedy included—that bless us in the end. She also said the first two were so close and such good friends that she was able to enjoy the babyhood of the third in a way that she wasn't the others. It all made me think maybe I can handle three, which is how many I've wanted all along. But that wanting, I have to admit, has been in my brain—an idea I've had—and not a yearning in my gut.

Not that I generally feel much in my gut, as I've mentioned before. I'll be telling my therapist about some incident and she'll say, "How do you feel about that?" And I'll think "Feel? How do I feel? I have no idea." But I certainly can tell you what I think about it. In any case, my ideas about this new baby are starting to move from my brain down into some area that approximates my gut and I find when people ask "Are you excited?" I don't automatically think, "Hell no." Now I think, "Maybe," and the thought has a sweet lilt.

Last week my friend A and I were at the mall and there was a woman there wrestling a child into a stroller. Frances toddled over to say hello and when I went to collect her, the woman looked up at me, stricken, and said, "This is so hard! I don't know how you do it. My nieces are visiting for two weeks and it's exhausting. My daughters are six and eight and they're easy—I'd forgotten how hard this is." "It's good to know it gets easier," I said, and she said, "Oh my god yes. So much." It was a good reminder that this will get easier, that I won't be in babyworld forever. Sometimes it really does feel like this is the paradigm for the rest of my entire life. And by six years old! That's no time at all. I believe folks when they tell me it goes fast, faster than you'd like. It's good to remember that there will come a time when I can simply go to the bathroom again by myself.

And while I'm generally not very good at keeping my struggles in perspective, I've got it. For today, anyway, I see things for what they are; I see the tedium as temporary and as lovely, as well as tiresome. I see that it can be enjoyable if I just relax about it all. Isn't that always the answer to my issues?


rachel, danny, henry and claudia said...

It gets easier - wow - do you think that's true? As for the third - I think I have already given up - my third kid is 28 now!! ;-)

February Mama said...

My baby is exactly the same way at church. He's fine as long as I stay with him in the baby room. Something about that place just makes him a little clingy.

I love the little hat F is wearing--so cute. It must be so fun to bundle her up to go out in the cold!