I don’t know if you know this, but Mary Bullock named Bo. I mean, of course, we gave him the name Lee Dilly Wedekind, IV, but Mary Bullock– what can I say? the girl takes charge of situations— overrode us and named him Bo.
And then of course Bo named Tucker. I mean, we named him Tucker Boone, but Bo has named him Tucka Boo Boo.
So, now that you know the back story, Tucka Boo Boo is SEVEN MONTHS OLD! Other than that first difficult month, the time has been as fast as a blink.
He kills me daily with those dimples. And the way he scrunches his nose when he thinks something is funny. And the way he lifts his eyebrow when he smiles– I think he does this just for me, because he knows he’s setting himself up to get away with…well, probably anything.Or everything.
It’s a problem.
I figure, if he’s like Bo, I’ve got about 10 more months until his first full-fledged wish-a-hole-would-open-and-swallow-me-up-I’m-so-embarrassed kind of public tantrum.
Until then, you can find my face buried in his squishy little neck– the best place to be!
Not checking on her was a risky bet, for sure. But since she was being quiet and occupying herself, I chanced it. Then I heard water running followed by her padding into the room to stand in front of me.
Mom? she said, all innocent like.
I accidentally got paint on my face.
What else could I have done besides respond: Hold on, I need to get the camera?
I mean, really.
While I was writing this, I again heard water running. When will I learn my lesson?
I walked into my bedroom to find her in her underwear. There was a big pile of baby laundry on my bed that I had not left there.
I stopped and looked at the laundry, then back at her.
What? she said. The dryer was off!
My eyebrow popped up all by itself, I swear.
The dryer was off, for real, she said. I did your laundry for you.
I opened up the dryer to find her dress, which she had washed out in the bathroom sink.
I’m kind of afraid of what accident might happen next:
Will she accidentally turn the oven on and then decide to just go ahead and bake me a cake?
Accidentally nudge the car into drive and decide to run carpool for the neighborhood?
The car just turned on, Mommy. For real.
I was standing in the deli section of the grocery store when it happened: the most ear-splitting, hair-raising, blood-curdling scream I had ever heard. At least, in the grocery store. Certain that death or a mad stampede was about to overtake me, I squeezed my eyes shut and ducked my head.
When neither event unfolded, I opened my eyes. In front of me was the screamer: a beautiful three year old with blonde bobbed hair, teetering on top of a grocery cart in what I could only imagine was a traumatic brain injury waiting to happen. Her tween-aged brothers hung from the sides of the cart, and their mother, entirely unconcerned, studied the nutrition label on a package of lunch meat several feet away.
With my ears still ringing, I moved to another section of the store. As I perused the wine racks, I heard another squeal and saw their cart rounding the corner into the row where I was browsing.
“It’s us again,” the mother said sourly.
I laughed nervously while she pushed her cart behind me.
“Do you have children?” she asked.
“No,” I answered with a pit growing in my stomach, “not yet.”
“I hope you never do,” she said.
I turned, shocked. “Excuse me? You don’t even know me!”
She rolled her eyes at me while one of her sons, in the way only ten year old boys can, mocked me: “You don’t even know me!”
I was done in. I sobbed through the check-out line and all the way out to my car. I sobbed as I dialed my mother’s number, spoke in three-word increments so she could understand me through my tears.
I re-lived the exchange in my head for days afterward, lying in bed, shocked at the words this stranger had uttered. But even worse than the sting of her words was my secret fear that she had been exactly right—that the unexplained infertility with which I had been diagnosed was, in fact, entirely explainable: I didn’t deserve to be a mother.
What kind of mother ducks and cowers over a squealing three year old in the grocery store? What kind of mother is reduced to tears by an ill-mannered ten year old? I asked myself this over and over again, without coming up with an answer.
So it all made sense, then. That must be it. I was selfish and immature, and mothers are not selfish and immature.
Then just as unexplained, except by the usual explanations: three times over the next six years I gave birth—first a girl, then two boys. The becoming a mother part continues daily, minute-ly, usually in the style of two steps forward, one step back.
Much of my pre-baby life is a blur. Was there really life before my children? But I will never forget that moment in the grocery store and the fear that lodged in my heart afterward.
Looking back, I can see that the time I spent wringing my hands (and, let’s be honest: our checking account) over my “infertility” was a blessing to me. It was a relatively short period of time, looking back– but it felt like an eternity as I waited and hoped, was poked and prodded, and was disappointed.
All the more time for me to work on my patience and fortify my faith in God’s plan for our family. Perhaps I also should have that spent time preemptively stuffing my ears with cotton—the screaming phase is still not my favorite.
But the waiting and the disappointment, and then the subsequent onslaught of busy (technical term: spirited) children is the life script written just for me.
I now understand that mothers in the grocery store with three children deserve a special level of kindness, even as their precious ones split my ear drums in front of the hot dog case.
But I also now understand that motherhood is not about deserving. It’s about appreciating the blessing once it’s given. However it’s given. Whenever it’s given. Even when they’re screaming. Even when they’re rude. Even when they reduce you to teary phone calls to your mother.
I have a confession.
I can’t keep my eyes closed when we bless our meals.
I know, it’s terrible! I’m supposed to be setting an example! But a few weeks ago, Bo started singing along to our blessing [Mary Bullock’s nightly pick: Johnny Appleseed], and the sight of his eyes squeezed shut, chiming in every third word, is just too sweet to miss.
It’s not that I’m not thankful for the sun and the rain and the apple seed, but I’m equally thankful for the singing
and these babies who sing.
And so I thank the Lord.