Feeble Knees

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Uncharted Territory

I must have been standing in the wrong line when biological clocks were handed out, or the one I got had a faulty alarm. The idea of having babies was fine...for other people. Babies are cute, they are darling, I love kissing babies....other people's babies. The idea of being morally and legally responsible for one myself always made me break out in a cold sweat.
This was completely foreign to my good friend Joy (not her real name). Joy wanted ten kids. The more babies the better, as far as Joy was concerned. I would wonder at Joy with complete puzzlement, much as you would a snowstorm in June. I just never had that compulsion or desire to have a child.

My parents had five children. By the time I made my presence known to them, they were so over having babies. My arrival wasn't necessarily as eagerly anticipated as my eldest brother's was. Having number five meant a lot of inconveniences. The house was too small, there was no room for me. I spent my first few months crashing in the dining room. A fifth unplanned child put a crimp in Mum's plans to go back to work, something she'd been longing to do since Number Four. They loved us all, and I never felt unloved. But years later as an adult with plans and dreams of her own, I could see where they weren't necessarily overjoyed when the test results came back positive.

Perhaps this all rubbed off on me, and that is why I was perfectly content to go through life never procreating. Besides, I reasoned, what kind of mother would I be? I'm just too selfish, I like things neat and quiet. My perfectionism would stifle the poor thing and s/he would spend years in therapy trying to get all the knots out of her/his little rope. No, I'm just not mother material. To make matters worse, most of the men I met in church were weird. Not to be mean, but honey they were just downright mental. Some were so convinced that the Rapture was going to happen any second, they saw absolutely no point in getting married or even thinking about having a child for fear it would end up past the age of reason and orphaned during The Great Tribulation. I am not making this up. Other guys seemed nice enough, but they were too busy running around trying to do Great Things™ for God. Changing diapers was not on their list. If there was one thing that I was NOT going to do, it was marry some guy who got me knocked up and left me at home with screaming babies while he went off and saved the world. Uh-uh. Thanks, I'm all set.

So I was content with this, and content with singlehood too, to be quite honest. It wasn't a bad deal at all. I came and went. I did a few of my own Great Things™ for God. Paid my own bills, bought my own car, had my own place furnished just the way I liked it. If I wanted to take a bath at 2 AM, drink coffee and read poetry out loud to myself, I was completely at my leisure to do so. (Granted, I never did do this; But I could have!) I disturbed no one, factored into no one else's plans, and was free to generally do my own thing. Ah, Bliss!

Why would anyone give this up? I wondered. I looked at married women at church, and I watched families start and grow. It just didn't appeal. At all. Sure it would have been nice to have company now and then. But getting married meant having a husband, which meant an increased possibility of having children. At least the cats were never going to have me up all hours of the night waiting for them to come home in one piece. And they weren't ever, ever going to run off to a second-mortgage inducing private college on the West Coast to find themselves.

Then the strangest thing happened when I met and began to get to know Mr. Feeble. For the first time in my life I met someone who, in my estimation, deserved to be a Dad. It dawned on me that if I wanted to pursue my relationship with him, I'd have to think long and hard about the kid thing. It would be completely unfair of me to marry a man who wanted children, if I knew for sure that I didn't. But as time went on, and my love and trust for him grew more and more, it didn't seem like such a cockamamie idea anymore. He had a very simple but deep rooted faith that it would be OK, that having children would be challenging, but a risk worth taking for the joy it would be to raise up new little people. His quiet confidence about it gradually wore away my fears and doubts, and it made me think deeply about God's plans for us.

We were married two years ago this fall. In that time we've lost my mother-in-law, we've seen friends divorce, we've seen my parents getting older. We realized that we are now each other's family, and that's a stunning thought. We're a pretty happy family, quirky, sure, but loving. Surely God would know what kind of kid could weather our bouts of wackiness. Perhaps a second trip through the "Good Sense of Humor" line would provide the proper preparation for life with the Feebles.

Mr. Feeble's really good at making a big weekend breakfast. Sometimes I find myself grinning at the thought of a little Feeble looking up to him, helping him stir the pancake batter. Mr. Feeble would be a good lefty pitcher for batting practice. I can almost hear the sound of a baseball smacking against the house and a joyful little Feeble running the makeshift bases around the yard.

It's little dreams like this that for the first time have me thinking about all the good things and the joys that make the responsibilities and the demands worthwhile. Lately I find myself wondering which of our traits and peculiar personality quirks would be passed on, and what new wonderful gifts and talents Feeble Jr. could have that we never did. What opportunities and dreams s/he might pursue, and how we could help a little one find his or her way.

This may be the biggest thing I ever had to trust God for in my entire life, that he would give me the strength, the joy, and the hope to become a Mum.

To be continued...
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