I will freely admit it’s been a big, fat ball of crazy around here. My grand plans of getting my “how do you do it” posts up on Monday, um, haven’t happened. Now, if you were to ask me, “Hey, Kathryn, how do you not sleep?” That, I could answer.
Have a sixth baby!
Oh I kid.
But in the midst of my sleep-deprived stupor, God gave me an experience and some time of reflection to process it all. May I share it with you?
Gianna just turned five months old. Didn’t I just give birth to her? A few nights ago, I found myself with a husband out of town, a baby that wouldn’t sleep and a pair of earphones. I cued up the birth video and cried all over again. Man, that was a beautiful day. If ever you have wanted to tell all the moms, “cherish this time!” and wondered if anyone would hear your cries, I’m here to tell you that, YES, I hear. I still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have this precious new life to love, to nurse, to hold, to kiss. She’s got some serious Michelin baby legs going on and a fair amount of back fat.
I just can’t get enough.
So, pin all that baby love into a note and hold it tight because it will be crucial here in just a moment.
Point, Kathryn. Get to it.
Last Wednesday, my oldest, Gianna and I all traveled to Houston for a once-in-a-lifetime 4-H event at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. More on all of that crazy fun later this week. I dropped Will off at NASA at 8am and had the entire day ahead of me. Gianna and I had a few hours to kill before the space center opened, so we stopped off at Starbucks for some Passion tea and a raspberry scone. Just the two of us. People kept walking by, smiling, giving me the nod. I heard a few, “well isn’t she just the cutest baby ever,” and even got a thumbs up from a patron.
Basically, Gianna had them all right where she wanted them. Me? I was just the transportation.
A middle-aged man walked by on his way to the napkin station and quipped, “She sure makes some cute noises. Sounds like she has a lot to say.”
Indeed, she did. She had been babbling and cooing non-stop for a good half hour. I knew our time was becoming short, though, because those babbles would soon turn to screams if I didn’t get her diaper changed. Figures that the Starbucks did NOT have a baby changing station, so off to the van we trekked. But before we did, that same, very kind, middle-aged man walked by and this time, we struck up a longer conversation.
“I’m the oldest of four,” he shared. Seeing my opportunity for solidarity, I mentioned, “Oh, we have a big family, too. She’s the youngest of six.”
He then put his hand on her arm, smiled and said, “Oh, her name must be ‘Oops.'”
And, y’all. I just don’t even.
I mumbled something like, “No, it’s actually thankful and we call her Gianna” and then quickly gathered my belongings before beelining for the door. I could feel the anger bubbling up. It was nearly all-consuming. How dare he call this baby an oops. If only he knew our story he wouldn’t have said something so utterly stupid.
We went about our day, sightseeing, grabbing lunch and running a quick errand. But, at the suggestion of a kind reader, I decided to stop off at St. Paul’s, the Catholic church just across the street from NASA.
It was crazy quiet and I even asked the front desk receptionist if I would bother anyone if I went inside the church. She smiled and told me to enjoy the peace and quiet. For a half hour, Gianna and I just walked around the interior, admiring the Hubble telescope stained glass and wishing that the adoration chapel goers would be okay with a chatty baby. It was taking place just behind the altar. I breathed a heavy sigh and walked out the doors. Just as I was about to dial a friend to go crash at her place, I realized it had been a while since Gianna ate. Of course she was fussy. She was hungry!
We walked back into the church, I sat in the back pew with a perfect view of the Monstrance, holding Jesus in the Eucharist, and I began to nurse sweet G. And that anger, that exhaustion, the nearly immobilizing fear that I have not been doing enough (or worse, too much) these past few weeks was finally released. My prayers landed on a few friends in desperate need of prayer and for the first time in weeks (months?) there was absolute peace. I can’t recall a time that I prayed without distraction, without my mind wandering and without little fingers tap, tap, tapping my shoulder.
No, all I could hear were the sweet sounds as Gianna ate and the rhythm of my own heart. For a few moments, I closed my eyes and could feel the peace.
As Gianna stirred, I took one last look around and then we walked back into the hubbub of life awaiting us. But, for an hour I was purely present. And it was dang near awesome.
To the man forever known as Mr. Oops? Thank you, kind sir, for reminding me of the beauty of our life. You see an oops, I see a gift. May we all be so blessed.