Saturday, August 22, 2009

Try a Little Tenderness

There is a lizard crawling across my porch rail. I'm okay with it. That's part of living where we live. And while that makes it sound as though we are living in the Mojave, we are, in reality, about a mile from the interstate, in a city that is roughly 750 miles from the nearest desert (I love google). Crazy how you can be so close to things like interstates and car dealerships and supercenters and still feel like you're smack-dab in the middle of the country. That's what I love about this place. Usually.

So I'm looking through my Moleskine at notes I've made over the last few weeks about things and stuff. It's part of the process for me...I think it, I scribble something about it, I go back and decipher the scribbles, then I write about it, as I think about it some more. I readily confess, however, that some scribbles will never be written. At least not where they are easily read. My moments of willingness to disclose the deepest and darkest tend to have fairly narrow windows. Just the same, something happened last weekend and painfully, I admit that I need to write about it and think about it some more.

I can be such an ugly person sometimes. Last Sunday morning, I was of course at church. I was playing piano, so I was there for both services. Since we get there early to rehearse, someone else usually takes Olivia to the nursery for me before the first service starts, and then I pick her up after the second service. Usually that person is Bailey Via, whom Olivia l-o-v-e-s, so they don't give Bailey one of the number tags because she keeps several of the worship team's kids. This Sunday was a little different because my dad was there. So he took Livi to the nursery while I wrapped up rehearsal and went to the back to meet with everyone before first service. Long story short, the last I saw of Dad was when he took Livi to the nursery; I did not have a chance to talk to him between the first and second services. After we played in the second service, I went to get Olivia so we could go home, and as I was signing her out, I said, "You know, my dad dropped her off, and I haven't seen him since then, so I'm not sure if you all gave him a tag for Livi or not...", to which the nursery worker replied, resolutely, "Then you cannot take her with you." In that moment, I could have been standing in St. Peter's Basilica and it would have mattered little. I instantly saw red. Luckily someone was standing nearby who went to find the nursery coordinator, who is a friend of my sister's, so she could verify that I am indeed Olivia's mother. Now, I know - I know - that I should be grateful for this, for the fact that the nursery worker would not release my daughter to someone who did not have any proof that they could pick Olivia up and take her with them. And I have tried and tried to get to that place, but more than anything, I just keep running into - but she would not give my daughter to me.

I try, in so many things, to step back and see from a broader perspective, but for some reason with this, I am having a very hard time. And it makes me feel really guilty because I shouldn't be so blinded by my own protective instincts that I fail to see the merit in the protective efforts of those whom I trust to care for her, even if it's only for a few hours a week. Maybe a teensy bit of what bothers me is the fact that I have been going to this church since October, I have been playing the piano since December, and this woman and I had no idea who the other was. I didn't know her name, and she neither knew my name or who belonged to me. Something about that will not leave me alone this week, specifically where my own responsibility to plug in and get to know people is concerned. I didn't curse and throw things, but I made it pretty clear that I wanted my daughter. Like right that second. And as I was driving away and my heart stopped pounding so in my chest, I thought...oh crap. I am such a jerk.

And that's not all.

In between the 1st and 2nd services, I saw a good friend of mine whose wife is getting ready to have a baby. He was telling us how the doctor said she could go any day now, and in his words I heard that fateful let's-have-this-baby-early hope. You know, the one I started voicing when I was 6 months pregnant. (Hey, after being told by every Kroger cashier in the city that you 'look like you're fittin' ta pop', one can ONLY hope to go early.) I immediately reminded him that most first-time mothers do not have their babies early, so they had better save themselves the disappointment. Later, this conversation came to mind, and I thought...oh my gosh. I totally sounded like that woman. You know, the one whose pregnancy didn't go the way she thought it should, or the one who's had so many epidurals that she thinks natural childbirth and those who choose it are totally idiotic (I met this woman when I was pregnant and opting for natural childbirth), or the one who obviously doesn't remember what it was like to be 38 weeks pregnant, weighing more than she ever thought she would weigh, with every joint - including her finger joints - aching and cracking and getting stuck in ways that they should never, ever get stuck...I was her. And I hated myself for it. Because I do remember what it was like to be 38 weeks pregnant and so miserable but also so incredibly ready to meet my sweet darling. And I remember how desperately I wanted to have her early, how diligently I tracked each and every possible sign of labor, and how disheartened I was when, at long last, my own body failed me and the doctors had to intervene and do for my daughter what I could not do for her myself. So I hope she has that baby early, or at least by noon on her due date.

And I hope that I can soften my heart. That I can see things from someone's perspective besides my all-important own and have some compassion, show some wisdom, extend some tenderness, some grace, some love.

No comments: