Friday, January 21, 2011
Such as These
"What did I do to deserve this?" I asked for the second time in thirty minutes.
The first time I asked it, I was in the shower, one leg smooth and one leg not, when I heard crying, the real kind - the kind that pulls wet mother from the shower in a flurry of towel, bathrobe, and mad dash by windows. I ranted inwardly to myself, Is it too much to ask for ten minutes of shower!? What did I do to deserve this?
Sugs was crying, Papa carrying her with full arms and a toothbrush still in his mouth. She wanted ME - this damp scramble to be presentable at 2:30 in the afternoon. Real Gil passed me the bundle of four-year old, then he hurried to finish getting ready for work.
I clumsily carried Sugs to my rocking chair, and folded us into it. Wails became sobs, then whimpers as she explained how the misplaced toy had deliberately tripped her, thrown her head into the dresser. As she poured out tears and words, I saw the moment in new eyes. It became so much more than an inconvenient interruption to my shower reverie, a mother holding her ever-growing daughter. The indulgence of this was far greater than the indulgence of hot water.
I held her close, feeling a very guilty pleasure for the chance to hold her, (which only happens when she's hurt). The wet towel on my head grew heavy, so I leaned my head to the side and felt it slide to the ground, along with any tenacious traces of resentment at being interrupted mid-shower. Then, I adjusted my bathrobe, snuggled her in, and started rocking.
"What did I do to deserve this?" I asked, this time audibly. "What did I do to deserve you? I was just a normal girl with mistakes and grumpy days, and yet, God gave me you!"
"I don't know, Mama," she answered gravely, as if she herself did not understand this phenomenon.
"I'm so sorry you got hurt, but..." I lowered my voice to a whisper, my lips against her forehead. "I love being right here, right now with you."
She smiled, tears still peppered across her cheeks, and burrowed down deep. I suppose it was the right thing to say. Soon, she was pretending to be asleep, her tapping toes and furrowed eyebrows giving her away. But that was okay with me, because I was pretending too. She was no longer the four-year old daughter who just that morning, rode a bike without training wheels up and down our street. She was still my little baby, the one I didn't rock enough or savor enough.
Real Gil walked back through the room on his way out the door to work, his eyes brightening when he caught sight of mother and ever-growing daughter. I'm pretty sure he was envious, but he hid it well.
I mouthed one word to him: "Heaven."
He grinned wide and kissed me good-bye - not an easy feat in a moving rocking chair.
I settled in again, hearing the background noise of a computer game and a clicking mouse. Tracing her face, her not-so-little body with my eyes, I wondered how many more times I would rock her... the speeding bicyclist who needed me less and less. I wondered how terribly I'd embarrass myself, trying to keep her mine and yet, giving her wings too.
Hearing deep heaving sighs, I realized she was no longer pretending, her sleeping body relaxed.
I laid my head back and relaxed along with her. And I wondered...
What did I do to deserve this gift?
P.S. Pictures brought to you by the ever-talented James Glover Photography.
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.
Mark 10:13-16, the Message translation