Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wonderfully made

I will never forget when I first met my first daughter.  For months I had been losing sleep, changing my diet, scheduling my life around this little person.  For months, I had thought of myself as a parent, and I had enjoyed being Mom.  But there was something unique and beautiful in that first moment when I saw her.  I think it was the first time I had any real sense of the word 'awe.'  (Awe, like awesome, not Aw, like awww... how cute.  Well, maybe both.)

My world simultaneously grew and shrank.  Nothing seemed to matter outside of the little hospital room, and yet somehow that was bigger than anything I had ever known.  She was just beautiful.  Perfect. 

So this, I thought, is what it feels like to think that your child is incomparable.  I swore I was not going to be that parent.  You know, the one who cannot see any fault with their child.  But there she was, and she was perfect. 

And then an awful thought crept quietly into my head.  Would I love her less if she was not classically beautiful?  Would I love her less if she was not so perfect?  I did not want to dwell on the thoughts.  I did not allow the thought to formulate in words; it felt like treacherous anxiety.

In the years since then, I never thought about it again. 

These thoughts have been mulling in my mind for a few months.  Can I be honest?  Should I be honest?  How can I tell people this?  I have settled on Chronology for the 'how', and I am still not sure about the other two. 

There is a lot of contradiction in parenting (life?).  For instance, we often regret how fast time flies.  We are told we must hang on to every moment because the time will go by so quickly and we will miss it.  The truth is, things happen fast because so many things are happening.  If you ever had time to ponder the reality of the challenges and scope of parenting, would you do it?  Carpe diem!  Are you kidding me?  From day one challenges confront your sleep-deprived self.  How can one tiny person who sleeps all day require so much of me? 

Every step of the way the masses remind you to treasure this time because what is coming is harder.  This starts during pregnancy, and from what I can tell, it never ends. "Just wait until she is born, you'll never sleep again."  "Just wait until she speaks, you'll miss the days when she couldn't."  Just wait until she's walking, screaming, tantruming, borrowing your car and stealing your clothes.  Just wait.  Also, Carpe diem, or you'll regret it. 

Still, the set up is generally pretty good.  By the time I get around to wondering if I can handle it, it is generally over.  Because I am not living in every moment.  Some moments, I just survive.  And those quiet or sunshiny moments?  I seize those.  Forget the rest.  I don't want to exhaust myself seizing. 

I spent as much time as any other parent, I suppose, beating myself up because I did not want to cling to every minute of every precious day. There were enough wonderful days and pieces of days to fill hundreds of memory books, which I will never get around to filling because that would not be appropriate time seizing.  There are joys enough in the day; there is no need to invent them.  It took a second child for me to allow myself to moderate that common bit of wisdom guilt-free. 

When Sarah was born, I did not have time to think about much at the beginning.  There were so many things that needed urgent attention.  This surgery or that?  Surgery at all?  What about her heart, her lungs, her kidneys, her fingernails?  Can I hold her?

The first time I held Sarah, my heart filled in a very familiar way.  The world grew and shrank, inexplicably.  In utter amazement I saw my daughter.  "My God!" I thought, "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?  So perfect?" 

Sarah, my tiny love, lifted my heart.  Her tiny hands would need surgery.  Her face showed tightness from pressure inside.  She was lovely.  Amazing.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  It is another moment I will never forget. 

"You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be. 
How precious to me are your designs, O God;
how vast the sum of them!"  Psalm 139: 13-17

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