Grocery shopping day. Snow day. I told you it either rains, sleets, or snows on grocery shopping day, and you didn’t believe me. I even tried to beat the snow by setting out at 1:00 in the afternoon, instead of 6:00 at night. But the snow outmaneuvered me and started 2 hours early, so it won again.
*You might want to stop reading now if you’re someone who wants children and hasn’t been able to have them.
I read a couple of blogs about children yesterday, and it got me thinking a bit about when I had my children.
The first blog was written by a woman whose 18 year old son died unexpectedly about 8 months ago. She writes the blog as if she’s writing letters to her son. It was achingly painful to read.
The other blog was written by someone who doesn’t have children who was wondering what the point was to having children. He’d decided they were a nuisance and he didn’t want them.
I used to feel that way too. I didn’t want children. Why would I? Pretty much all of the children I knew in school made fun of me. Why would I want a kid like that hanging around? Or how about toddlers who scream and throw tantrums at Target? Or kids with disgusting runny noses who try to lick the snot? (Oh, you know they do it. I’ve seen them do it. Kids are so gross.) They’re boring conversationalists and they want to give you hugs and they’re irrational and unreasonable and expensive.
No. I really, really, really did not want kids. It wasn’t fake. It wasn’t posturing. I didn’t like being around them and I certainly didn’t want one moving into my house with me.
And then, one day, I changed my mind.
Years before having children, I watched “Braveheart” with some friends. At one point I commented, “Wouldn’t you hate to be in one of those battles? How do people even bring themselves to fight like that?”
A few of the men in the room disagreed. And I swear, they almost looked longing as they said, “If you’re protecting your loved ones, then you go. It doesn’t matter what happens to you, you go. If anyone hurt anyone in my family, or my friend’s families, and if I had to fight like that to protect them—I’d go.”
Bunch of loons.
When I worked on a military base during Desert Storm I asked one of the soldiers that I worked with, “Aren’t you glad you’re here and not out fighting in a desert somewhere?” And he looked disgusted at the question and said, “No, I’m not glad. I hate being here. I was trained to go and I want to go.”
And then I had my son.
Before my son arrived, I was prepared. I knew that childbirth would be excruciating. I knew I’d be sleep deprived. I knew he’d cry for hours. I knew he’d have disgusting diapers. I knew there would be vomit. I knew I’d be bored. I knew that I’d be given the ghastly label of “stay at home mom.” I knew it would be a lot of hard work and probably no payoff until he was 35 and finally old enough to appreciate me.
And then he arrived.
And it turned out that there was one thing I wasn’t prepared for.
I loved him.
I didn’t expect that. I really didn’t. Not the kind of love that I felt for him. It was so pure. So white and clear and glowy and solid and all-encompassing.
And he was beautiful. Every other baby I’d ever seen was ugly. Let’s be honest here. They’re all red and squishy and ugly. Oh, we all say, “Look at the cute baby,” but it’s not true. They’re ugly.
Except for mine. I was amazed and thought, “How is this possible!? I honestly and truly have the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen!”
It wasn’t until about 2 months later that I realized my baby looked just like every other red, squishy newborn. I was the one who was different—not him.
He had to stay in the hospital for a week after being born. I sat for hours and hours and hours, holding him, staring at him, talking to him. I’ve never felt such peace and joy and bliss as that week, sitting and staring at a baby for hours at a time. Me! Who gets bored so easily that I can’t even brush my teeth without getting so antsy that I have to read a few pages in a book.
And very soon after the love, came the fierceness.
It crossed my mind that someone, someday might actually try to hurt my son. And suddenly, taking a battle axe to someone’s head, or shooting an arrow through their eye, or shooting out their brains with a gun seemed a pretty reasonable option, if it meant protecting my precious baby.
My own personal safety wasn’t an issue. It would be like being a terminator. I’d just keep going and going. If I was down to just a head attached to an arm, I’d drag myself by that arm and use my teeth to rip out someone’s veins at the ankles, if it would protect my son.
There’s a book I read that opened up with lines that go something like this, “I would die to protect my children. And I’d let you die to protect my children.”
That about sums it up.
I don’t know why people have kids. I sure don’t know why I changed my mind about having them. But now that they’re here I love them with a fierce, fierce love. I scare myself with the thought that I almost went through my whole life without having them. What a mistake that would have been.