Sunday, May 13, 2012

Daniel Fast, Day 8: Happy Mother's Day To You, Too

I grabbed some raw almonds on the way out the door for the walk up the hill out of the driveway and across the street for church.  When I got back I made myself a lunch of pinto beans with guacamole and a veggie plate with mixed veggie salad and baby carrots topped with plain hummus.  By my side I have a bowl of pinto beans and grits..  I'll be eating them as I type this out.

My mother called me on this Mother's Day, and she wished me a Happy Mother's Day.  Today being that particular day, that makes sense, right?  I mean, considering that she is a grandma, and she couldn't be that if her kids didn't have some, right?  Well, my particular case doesn't quite go that way.  What she's acknowledging, in my case, is my baby that I miscarried nearly 23 years ago.  

When I'm asked, I don't tell people I have any children, because technically, my baby isn't with me.  Never lived outside the womb.  I carried him for 19 weeks and 5 days total, just short of halfway. And then he was gone, miscarried.  I can almost be passive when I talk about it, as long as I don't have to go into detail.  

There are those who will tell me that I should be over it.  There are others who will tell me that he's the lucky one, not having to grow up in the world as it is right now, with all its war, turmoil, economic uncertainty and upset, all the sex, drugs, etc., etc.  Or they'll tell me that I'm lucky because I didn't have to shell out money on someone who would eat my bread, drink my water, sleep in my shelter, and turn on me behaviorally and spit in my face, so to speak.  No one to be a nuisance, or a college-educated drain on my wallet who for all his smarts can do no better than to come back home, grown but not a man.  Any one of a thousand scenarios that could have played out didn't because he never saw the light of day alive. 

It kills me that when people say things like this, they so often tell me the bad that I avoided.  It kills me how cynical some people get to be about the gifts they have.  Children are a gift.  A good gift.

And it's not their fault if you weren't prepared for them when they arrived.  That they cost money you don't have.  That they demand energy you don't have—or want—to give.  That they are more of a responsibility, and less of a return on emotional investment sometimes, than you expected.  That the situation into which you brought them to fix is now made many times worse for their presence in lives where they ultimately were not wanted for themselves alone but rather as a genetic trinket to wave under the nose of someone who really, really, really needs you to get out of his face, because if he did feel anything under all the lust, even the lust is now all gone, and any peripheral emotional spasms have long since ceased and disappeared.  

And sometimes with all the care and planning that you put into having them, raising and teaching them, nurturing and loving them, stuff still happens.  They're people, not puppets you control.  Not automatons for whom you can write a program and upgrade the software.  They're little people.  They pick up everything through their senses, even when those senses don't work exactly the way they're supposed to do.  They grow up and have experiences and opinions you didn't teach them.  They ultimately make decisions that make us feel 10 feet tall or sink us so low that we have to reach way up to touch bottom.  They're little people, with all that is implied.

And the true mother's heart cherishes every one of her children, whatever feelings they may provoke in her moment to moment.  She doesn't romanticize them, but she cherishes them.  She wants for them every good thing, however well or ill they may act.  And when she loses one, by whatever means, she still carries them with her in her heart.  In her heart, their lives are eternal, no matter how long or short they are in time.

So please, don't tell me which of us, I or my son, was "the lucky one".  Because each child is unique, each one precious, and each one is the product, in large part, of what that child experiences at the hands of their parents and those others whom the parents allow into that child's life.  Yes, there are all those other influences over which the parent may have no direct control, but that doesn't negate the parental influence where the parent is there to exert it.  I was raised by my parents for the first five years of my life, before they put me in a boarding school where, for the next 13 years, other adults spent more time with me than they did.  However, I never forgot where home was, and I never forgot who Mama and Daddy were.  Whenever I was with them, they reminded me who I was and whose I was.  They loved me, nurtured me, lessoned me, and poured themselves into me the best they knew how.  To this day, their influence remains strong, woven into the fabric of the adult I am now.  And though I am independent of them, I know full well what would have been my son's first lessons.  I know because they were mine, from Mama and Daddy.  What you pour out into and onto your children, they give it back to you.  In spades.  Through repetition and perpetuation.

I only had a brief time to parent my baby, but I did the best I could in the time I had.  I tried to eat nutritionally, to take care of myself, to follow my obstetrician's directives.  Above all, I loved and wanted him, and I prayed every day that God would help me be to him the best mother I could be.  My last prayers, as his defenseless little body was being pummeled and crushed inside me by the force of medically-induced labor after my natural rhythms stalled, were pleas to God for His mercy on my child.  And when I was offered the chance to hold him and say a proper farewell, I did right by him the best I could.  I held and admired him, his delicate little hands and feet, his little face that marked him so strongly as bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh..  I mourned him long and deeply for many years.  And when the guilt that I felt over his coming, and his going, became more than I could bear, I did the only other thing that I could do for him:  I gave the guilt, and my son himself, into the hands of my God, to do away with the guilt, and to hold my little one safe forever.

There are unknown thousands of thousands of women whose hearts have a place reserved for a child their arms cannot hold.  Some of those children are still alive somewhere, some are in eternity.  And the majority of people who know you probably don't know your story.  But my mother knows my story.  And today, she honored my by letting me know that she has not forgotten, and it was an act of love from her.  I say this because although the circumstances of his coming were not the way she and my father taught me it should be, with a husband by my side, his ring on my hand, his name on my signature, his honor to cover and protect me, my mama was there for me.  She loved me.  And had he been born at term, she would have loved him every bit as much as she loves her other grandchildren; this I know with everything in me.  I say it again:  Her remembrance is a gift of love.  And I thanked her.

Maybe you are such a one, a mother whose child, on earth or in eternity, is in your heart but not in your arms or in your life.  Maybe you have never acknowledged yourself a mother because you felt that not having your child meant that you didn't qualify to call yourself that.  The lord knows how rarely I think of myself in that way.  But I am a mother.  And, if you want that title, so are you.  So if you have no mother to tell you, then from me to you:  Happy Mother's Day!  Hold up your head.  Carry this with you forward and celebrate big next year.  You are not forgotten.  God has not forgotten.

Your child and your heart are safe in His hands.  God has not forgotten.

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