I know somebody who is enduring a lot of difficulty right now. One of these many difficulties is an unexpected pregnancy that has put her in the hospital on three months' bedrest. As hard as that sounds, it is really the tip of the iceberg. She is excited for the baby, but overwhelmed about how all the rest of everything will be managed.
Another problem at which all I can do is throw a casserole.
Or not. The baby coming is a boy; my friend's other children are girls. My own baby is two, and about a month ago I felt very compelled to give her my stuff. All of it. Now, you might say that it sounds like I'm making some sort of decision here. I'm not. I still can't get the right inspiration about my BIG question, but I do know I'm supposed to give away my stuff.
As it turns out, she doesn't need the furniture, but she does need nearly everything else. Tonight, for family home evening, I went through three huge bins full of gorgeous boy baby clothes aged o-18 months. I culled them yet again for Goodwill-worthy items, pulled out the wee things with the most sentimental value, and boxed the rest of lovingly used baby things for my friend. I packed away my like-new Boppy for when she nurses her little man; the one with the cover that matches the nursery I never got to have for the Youngling. I packed up my bouncy chair too; maybe they will finally put some batteries in it, a thing I never did.
I've told myself for two weeks I was going to do this. Tonight I hoped to feel some sense of relief or closure as I de-cluttered my life and found a happier home for all of these things. Instead I found myself saying, several times, "I have to keep THAT! All three boys wore it, and the next one will need to also!" or "I couldn't stand it if there was another baby and I'd given THIS away." And I cried. Not a lot, but some. My three little boys helped Plantboy pull out the old peas, spread compost and put in the fall crop of carrots and beets. So grown up. So energetic. So not babies.
My heart is so full tonight with emotions I cannot explain or understand, at least not entirely. I feel an odd mixture of nostalgia, confusion, wistfulness and sorrow for just how short their tiny years are. And yet, when you are in the middle of that babyhood it is so hard--at least for me it is. I was never all that naive about the difficulty of having kids: even with number one the decision to go forward was scary beyond all reason. In a lot of ways, I feel like I don't want to have a baby. I don't want the sleepless nights, aches, pains, gear and worries that come in those first couple of years. I don't really want to give my body over to somebody else so wholly again.
But I don't want to regret either.
So I'll just send these thoughts out into the void tonight, trying to understand the tears streaming down my face even as I write. Trying to understand how this mothering thing can be so fulfilling and draining at the same time. Trying to remember how sweet and perfect their little bodies were in those impossibly tiny clothes. Trying to decide if my sacrifice is enough.
Trying to find a place where I can exist simultaneously with this mother-creature that lives in me too. Trying to decide if the love that I have for my three little men will be enough to fill the hole that threatens to tear me open sometimes . . . .