Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Post That Has No Name

I am in a hurry. I am stressed and trying to get everything situated so I can leave in a few minutes for the evening. My patience is paper thin.

In the background I hear my son say to his sister, “Sshhh…Let’s be really quiet and then maybe Mommy won’t get mad anymore.”

Time stops and I am in a modest living room adorned with house plants. House plants I dote on; arrayed in terra cotta with nutritive spikes imbedded in warm soil. I am kneeling in front of a forest green micro fiber couch, sunlight spilling onto my back like warm abashment. I am young, I am thin, my hair is undone and I have much to learn.

I speak out loud caught up in the words. “Please Father. If you give me a son, like Hannah of old, I will raise him up unto Thee.” I knew what the words meant, but I didn’t understand what the words meant.

For almost four years I had pled for a child. I was close, so close. We knew within weeks I was pregnant and I would like to think it was that prayer, but my thrice weekly visits with a reflexologist for the past eight months could have made an impact as well. I think both events conjoined into the space and time in which I was ready to receive him.

I thought mothering would come easily to me. I was the oldest child, had been babysitting since I was 11, and had been a preschool teacher for years. I was told I had a way with children and could often be found surrounded by them since I was like a big child myself. To my dismay it did not. When my son was laid into my arms, I had the connection; the heaven meets earth connection where you’re allowed a glimpse into that heavenly sphere in order to take your child as he is placed into your arms by God himself. It was that moment that I fell in love with the future, with my own potential, with a creature who stared into my eyes like the ancient sage that he is. I knew I was in possession of a spirit who dwarfed mine, an intelligence who the Lord saw fit in his mercy to send me.

My spirit reached out and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, sir,” my spirit seemed to say, but all my frail tabernacle could blurt out was, “Hi Bubby.”

I handed him off to my husband for a bath. I was a little afraid to take control of his little life. I hesitated in nursing him, in changing him, in bathing him. I had the baby blues, but would not recognize it for months. Our days were little and orderly. If I stuck to a schedule, I was okay. I read The Baby Whisperer and stuck to her schedule by the letter. It was the EASY plan: Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time. Both of us thrived. We knew exactly what to expect from each other at any given time. I took a lot of pictures and wrote in his baby book. I stayed pretty much to myself. It was RSV season and I didn’t take him to church. I didn’t like anyone to hold him…I didn’t like going to the mailbox. I got frustrated with my husband more and easily. My son’s head had been squished when the OB used the forceps and I was afraid to touch it, afraid I would break him. I kept a hat on his head. I was terrified he would get hurt, or sick.

He grew and he was as delightful a child as I have ever known. He was calm, temperate, and engaged. His eyes were wise and he was patient with my awkward attempts to do the smallest tasks for his comfort. My husband and I struggled to find our place during this time and to make matters worse, he would lose his job. The added stress of having him at home trying to find work was taking a toll.

The bishop approached us one afternoon in our home and prayed with us. He told us that he felt inspired that we should put our home on the market immediately and move into my parent’s basement apartment. We were stunned and we didn’t want to do that, but we did not question him. We both looked at each other and nodded our heads. It never occurred to us to say anything, but yes. We were stressed. We were arguing. There was so much to be done. This was our first home and it was small and we needed to repaint the kitchen.

We had had an argument and my husband was outside washing the windows and I was inside cleaning the walls. My hair was in my face and I ran up to get a clip. I put my little boy in his bouncy seat onto the counter for a second while I was gone and as I descended the stairs I watched in slow motion as my heart, my breath bounced himself off that countertop and onto the tile floor still in his seat and with it landing on top of him. Part of me left in that moment. Perhaps this sounds dramatic, but I can honestly say I have not gotten that piece back. I have looked for it since, but it left that day. I don’t remember a lot after that. Yelling maybe, agony, me lying under his crib, crucifying myself for my negligence, his vomiting, lethargy, sitting in an ambulance, the young EMT holding my hand as my husband filled out paperwork. The young man who looked into my eyes and must have seen that I was not okay, who gave me his card in case I needed to talk. The helicopter descending because the ambulance would have been too slow, the stuffed alligator I placed onto the gurney, the deflation of emotion as I was told I could not fly with him, kneeling in the grass because I was unable to stand, watching him fly away not knowing if I would see him ever again, knowing I had broken my child. Then there was the man who appeared off the sidewalk and sat by me, the same man who asked me if that baby was my son, the same man who told me as I willed my head up and down, that my baby would be okay and then was not beside me anymore.

We broke every speed law and reached Primary Children’s in eight minutes from West Jordan. We were met by a grief counselor. Somehow my parents were already there. The bishop was there, some friends were there. How did they all know? How did they all get there so fast? I don’t remember seeing them really. Deep inside I knew he was going to be okay. I clung to that, but the grief counselor made it seem like they just didn’t know and it was as if I walked two roads. I was there in the hospital, but I was being led along in another place as well. I asked to see him. He was alone in a large room. The nurse said he had cried himself to sleep. The IV was sticking out of his head because they couldn’t find a vein, the stuffed alligator laid beside him. I cried then, cried for the minutes I had lost with him. I held his hand and stroked it. My husband, bishop, father and our friend encircled him and the bishop spoke. He blessed my son that he would be fully healed. That he had a great work to perform on this earth. They left. All of them left. I sat beside my son and that room was filled to capacity. All of the souls who loved my son, all of the souls who loved me engulfed that white sterile space as sure as if I was in the temple of my God, as sure as we were in Heaven itself. I can not explain it well enough to do it justice. But I knew. I knew we were surrounded-it was crowded in there. The phone rang and it jarred me. A friend called. She was hysterical. I was not. I knew the veil was thin and that a miracle had occurred.

Over time, there has been more than a few nights I have wept wondering if someone else should have mothered these children, someone less quick to anger, someone more patient and whose constant mistakes aren’t on full display day after day. My son and I have had the opportunity to discuss forgiveness, repentance, and the Atonement. He is well aware of my shortcomings and we have had some very frank and deep doctrinal conversations.

Back to where I began. That night as my son whispered to his sister, that they needed to be quiet, I stopped and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I would not go to where I had planned to go. How could I leave my children with a stressed out cranky mommy and go somewhere with others who would get my best. The ones I love the most dearly need my best. They need my best all the time. Sometimes I am going to stumble and because of that I can’t afford to be distracted. It’s just too easy to get distracted.

There are times I lose focus. How can I ever forget that my greatest joys are in the walls of my own home? That NOTHING else matters as much, that NOTHING I will EVER do is as important as what I am doing every day, albeit imperfectly.

The Lord blessed my son and through the Atonement I was finally able to forgive myself for being gone even for a minute when he fell, and through the Atonement I can keep trying to stay focused on what’s most important in the here and now and forgive myself for not being the perfect strong mommy that I want to be. It is only by clinging to my Savior that I can be the mommy that HE would have me be. And in nothing is my weakness made more manifest than as I strive in my roles as wife and mother. And that’s proof enough for me that nothing’s of greater value.

We liked conference. Here’s proof. And here’s to taking this mommy thing one day at a time…