As I write this, the girl and the boy are both pretending to nap (so am I – myself on the couch and they in their beds).
Most likely they are awake and quietly destroying something, messing up the room or re-arranging some precious paperwork in my bedside cabinet.
I’m tired. They are too, but they have more energy in their young, supple bodies than I do in my stout, pregnant frame. Lately, the thought of having a new baby in only a couple of weeks has both excited and terrified me. I’m not that mom who romances over the infant phase. I can’t even remember it once it’s gone. It’s just one big, chi-chi, poopey, un-showered blur.
So why am I, to use the culture’s terminology, not “done” with children? It seems I’d be a prime candidate to enlist in ranks parading to the tubal-ligation center for disease childbirth control.
Quite simply, and not so simply, because at the end of every exhausted, stressful, water-retaining day, I’ve never loved so well, nor so poorly, nor as purely as I have when I had kids.
I’m not perfect at it, by any means, but it compels me to do odd, strange things only someone who loves could do – and it surprises me still that my introverted, melancholy self is frequently able to do it.
For example, when my son, who is obsessed with poop right now, tells me earnestly that we shouldn’t go to the park because the sand is where, “the kitties go poop,” I must, in all seriousness, affirm that he is correct about that, and so we will be sure not to touch the poop when we are there because it has germs. In that moment, he matures a little more knowing that he made such an intelligent statement.
Or like the times he goes, “Big poop!” in his little toilet, the fruit of weeks of potty training on mine and my husband’s part, and he calls out that he ‘needs’ me to come and clap my hands together life a daft penguin celebrating him becoming a big boy.
And we’ll do this everyday until he finally figures out that bowel movements are those things that everyone eventually manages to do without applause.
But, darn it! I was there and I clapped for him! And I was happy for him for no other reason than I loved him.
I can only credit him with giving me the opportunity to love in that way. My daughter too, when she did the same thing. Where else in the world would I have been able to love like that?
I know they may be silly, minor examples of love, but, really I had almost zero experience of doing anything similar before I had the kids. Nor have I loved anyone or anything for such a prolonged amount time (I looked at my daughter the other day and thought, “Wait, she’s only five?”).
This love that I, and many parents, have for our children is the most hectic and purest love many have ever known. I feel that I can only, at the end of every tough day, thank God for them. And one day I hope to thank them for putting up with me as their mother.
Where I am sitting, I can feel the baby in my abdomen kicking so hard that I am breathless. A little foot drags across the underside of my belly and the muscles harden in anticipation of a future contraction.
Yet another baby is coming into our world. They will be yet another opportunity to love purely, perhaps poorly at times, and but selflessly and with a lot of grace.
I figure that, with God, I too am like this baby. How will I get to heaven? Just like my kids will: kicking and screaming, pooping and clapping. A strange package that He sees, for all it’s flaws, for all it costs and simply says, “It’s because I love you.”
Copyright 2013 Marissa Nichols
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