Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is This Parenting?

So I just got back from a funeral. I only remember meeting the guy who died twice, but his sister is a dear friend of mine and was one of my bridesmaids, so I went to the funeral. Dennis was the same age as my older brother (32) when he died suddenly and unexpectedly of what they suspect was pneumonia.

My first memory of him was from high school. His family had moved into the Laurel area shortly after my family had left, but he was in Sunday School one of the times I came back to visit. I don't remember really talking to him, but I remember thinking he was kinda cute. Many years later (and yet still many years ago), I played piano for his twin sister's wedding. At the reception, he ended up sitting at my table for a while. We chatted/flirted during the reception until near the end when he finally asked if I was ever going to dance. I told him I'd dance if anyone would ever ask me. So he asked (after a minute where the thought that was clearly going through his head was, "It can't be that simple"), and we danced. The next Sunday, his mom told me that he'd said I was the prettiest girl at the wedding.

So, while those are both very pleasant memories, I really didn't know him at all. But I still found myself crying during the funeral. Partly it was because my bridesmaid gave the eulogy, with tears in her eyes and voice the whole time, and I'm definitely a sympathy crier. Partly it was because Baby hormones make my crying proclivity much harder to keep in check than normal. But mostly, I think it was because I was imagining myself in the situation of having to bury my child. It didn't help that one of the songs played was "Held" which talks about the unfairness of a two-month-0ld dying in their mother's arms while she prays.

I've heard my mom and dad talk about that thought a couple of times and brushed it aside as silly thinking...but the full horror of it really hit me while looking at the family sitting in front of that box.

Is this what parenting really is? Thinking about all of the "what ifs?" What if they get really sick? What if something goes wrong? You're warned about midnight feedings and colic and dirty diapers, and you get to experience through friends' kids the joys of playing and watching them grow...but is this really the secret that is parenting? The horror of "what if?"

But the thing is, as hard as it would be for us to lose this baby at any point in his or her life...wow...that's hard to even type...as hard as it would be, "we" would still be a "we." I'd still have VNB with me. I wouldn't have to go through it all alone.

But if it were him...and I had to somehow raise our baby alone...



Part of me misses the time when I could quit my job, sell my house, and move to Baghdad on a "whim." (And part of me is now ashamed at what I must have put my parents through when I did that.) Because then I wasn't tied down...there was no one else to consider. Sure, that meant that no one had my back when I could have used some help...but I was truly independent. Now I'm not. Now I have a husband and soon a child to care for...and to worry about.

I know that God gives grace in the moment, not in advance...which is why this is so scary right now. I'm sure that, in the moment, I'd be able to handle whatever happened. But the choice between being in Heaven with 'my Boyfriend' and being here on Earth with my husband (and child)....well that's a hard one. And it didn't used to be.

But the verse that keeps coming to mind is Mark 8:38 - that we can't know what it means to _really_ live until we throw away our lives for the sake of the Gospel. While it was "easy" enough to 'throw away' my own life...it's not so easy to think of doing the same with the alien growing (and kick boxing) in my belly or with the Very Nice Beloved for whom I'm so grateful.

I guess this is where we mimic Jesus' prayer the night before He died and say, "Father, if it's possible, I'd rather this didn't have to happen.....but the bottom line is that what I want most is for Your will to happen, whatever that is."

Sometimes that's easier said than done though...

1 comment:

old friend in Florida said...

Parenting is knowing the "what ifs" and finding the joy in each moment anyway. It is treasuring your child(ren) and learning that they are both less and more fragile than you think. It is seeing the hand of Him in the smile of your baby and the sudden burst of a giggle. Enjoy each moment and every breath. Love and be loved... this is parenting.