Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day

There was a baptism at church today. One of the mothers held her baby in her arms, three months old, who seemed to be asleep. As the pastor spoke about the sacrament of baptism, I noticed the mom start rocking and bouncing, very slightly, almost imperceptibly, but I saw and I knew that even though I hadn't noticed the baby move, that the mother was responding to the smallest cues from a tiny, indistinct person she has only known for three months. The pastor took the baby and woke it in the transfer and then made it cry out in little baby squawks when she blessed it's forehead with her cold, wet hands. Then she held the baby close, and she, too, bounced it. The pastor is a mother, a grandmother, and I could see that her movements were instinctive and involuntary.

And I thought, that is the thread that binds all of humanity together, this maternal instinct to rock and bounce, even if it is not life of our own flesh. This urge to keep creating life, and protecting it, and nurturing it. Other animals do this, but only for a short time. They kick their babies out of the nest, the herd, the pride, out of their hunting grounds. They don't have to spend so many months carrying their babies around, then teaching them to eat and poop and walk and talk. They don't have to shepherd them through eighteen-to-twenty-two-plus years of school and lessons and sports and activities and birthday parties and manners and social etiquette and responsibilities... Their animal babies don't call them when THEY have babies and ask how they're supposed to get their offspring to sleep, or to latch, or what is this weird rash or fever, or how do you cook chicken so you don't all get food poisoning. I mean, I know some animals carry their young, but only for a time. And some have to teach them to fly and to hunt, but then they are off. I guess elephant daughters have the luxury of their mother's guidance for an extended period, and maybe gorillas and lions and whales. But you get what I mean... Human motherhood requires an extraordinary investment of time and effort and energy.

Alice and Ivy woke me up at 5:45am this morning to wish me Happy Mother's Day. I told them to go back to bed. Then I told them to go turn on cartoons. I went back to bed. Ivy busted into Elliott's room and woke him up. Jon got up with all of them and fed them breakfast and I went back to sleep for another hour or so. When I woke up, Ivy made sure to tell me, again, Happy Mother's Day! and reminded me that they had a present for me. I told her I couldn't wait to see it, just as soon I went to the bathroom. She opened the door while I was peeing to tell me Happy Mother's Day. Again. While I was peeing. Hashtag motherhood, hashtag so blessed...

Alice made me a book at school that was All About Mom but really, kind of about Alice. "Mom, you are so special because you always love me!" and "My favorite thing to do with you, mom is go to the Disney Store." Which we've done like, twice, and obviously, is mostly only fun for her. My favorite food is pancakes (I do love pancakes), and my favorite thing to do with Alice is bake with her (I do enjoy that!), she tells me jokes to make me laugh "Ha Ha Ha," and my favorite place to go is the beach. Those were pretty good answers, not untrue at all!
Ivy took a bunch of hilarious photos of me reading through the book.

We got ready for church and everything devolved into a crying, screaming, shouting disaster. Ivy smashed Alice's finger in the locker at the gym yesterday and Alice was sobbing that she needed a bandaid and couldn't put on her tights with a wet, hurt, bleeding finger without a bandaid while Elliott was wailing and screaming because he needed to be breastfed. I sat on the floor with him in my bathrobe and fed him, my church clothes in a pile on the bed behind me, everyone else dressed and ready to go to church. Except for screaming Alice and her tights. I reminded Alice that this was the day we celebrate the fact that I grew three humans with my body and squeezed them out of it, so I was pretty sure she could tolerate her minor finger injury.

A few minutes away from church, Ivy said she needed "to go potty so badly." And Alice said she needed a drink of water to make her barking, resonant cough quieter (she might have croup? Apparently, she shared a popsicle with a sick neighbor on Friday). We finally made it to church and Alice had a drink while Ivy used the bathroom and we made it to our seats after the Call to Worship but just in time to sing this hymn. I sang while repeatedly putting Alice and Ivy back in their seats and getting them pencils to work on their children's bulletin. Jon and I literally laughed out loud at the first line of the third verse. It just felt so appropriate to our morning, by that point. Really, it's appropriate to every day in our house, and worldwide, too, it seems...

The sermon was lovely, and really spoke to me about the power of a mother's anger when her children are hurt being akin to God's anger at the injustices we inflict on each other, but my brain is too mushy to organize my thoughts into words. It was about the anger of a mother bear. The quote on the front of the bulletin spoke to me as well, thought I don't feel like much of my anger is a "good anger" these days...

I snagged a picture with my littlest baby in his suspenders on our way out the door, but neglected to get one of all my offspring together. He's just the most delicious.

During the Children's Moment, the kids all got a rose to give to their mother. So I came home with three really beautiful roses to go along with the lovely herb garden that Jon and the kids planted for me. Luckily, everything is cat-safe, because Eli's been snacking on everything all day. I'll be surprised if there's anything left and the vase is still in one piece tomorrow, he just knocked it over - again - as I sit here typing this. 

Kids. Jeez.

I hope your day was full of love and hugs and thanks. Let's do it all again tomorrow!