Saturday, August 20, 2011
The Girl Who Held Me
Today I asked my son to color a picture for his birth mother. I am preparing to send her some photos and I think he is old enough to participate in that process. I don’t plan to read him the letter I wrote. But if I were her, I would want to see the things his amazing little mind does with a pen, and see the way he prints his name in large, wiggly block letters that slope off the page. So I asked him to draw something. He was hesitant, but finally conceded when I suggested he could sit with me at my desk – the one that is ineverywayofflimits every other day. So I typed and he drew. Then he heard that his dad was outside with tools and he disappeared.
When I found him later helping his daddy, I asked him to tell Dad what we had been up to, hoping to encourage him to think and talk more about the other mama in our lives. “Who you making a picture for, Mister?” my husband asked. “I am making a picture for the girl who held me in her tummy,” he answered. He said it sweetly and with some reverence. Holding someone in your tummy is a big deal. And I love his choice of words. She did hold him. Close. Tenderly. As long as she could. It was a good choice of words.
But she did more that hold him in her tummy. She was his mother. And that is something that hurts my little man a little too much to talk about right now. It is hard enough for him, I think, to make space for a second woman who bravely and lovingly gave him the gift of life. But pregnancy is not parenting. The event of birth is not parenting. Parenting is making food and washing clothes and singing songs and kissing bloody knees. Opening up his heart to the truth that someone else loved him in that way pushes his little heart to the edge of a deep canyon where parents sometimes disappear for reasons that just aren’t good enough. Today my son was willing to let someone love him and hold him before he was born. But he was not willing to draw a picture for a mama.
All of this silently breaks my heart. All of it. She is an amazing woman who did her best and then made a sacrifice I shudder to think about. She was his mother. And she was good at it. She loved him and he loved her back. And all of that, at least today, was too much.
Mister is teaching me that sometimes we can only hold fragments of the whole. And that is okay. Even God knows that we can’t be left alone with all the truth in one day: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” John 16:12.
So I will write the letter. And he will draw the picture. And we will pray that those two pieces of paper, fashioned in love, find their way into the hands he and I both secretly dream about when we are sleeping.