Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Isn't she beautiful? Seriously, is she not a most perfect example of perfect perfection? Every cliche in the book rises at a time like this: miracle, blessing, bundle of love, gift from god, joy, grace made whole in this world, and on and on. Strangely, I am free to experience these joyful feelings more at her birth than I was at my own children's births. Perhaps it is because I am not myself walking into the terrifying unknown realms of new parenthood this time around, or because I am not trying to do so while simultaneously recovering from battering labors, a twin pregnancy, C-section deliveries, and facing all the mystifying and almost-always at least temporarily uncomfortable changes in my own body; I have made that scary journey, and come out the other side with all 3 children safely, now healthy, strong, happy, and compassionate adults living their own lives. I was lucky; nobody starved, or was homeless or unclothed or broken, or fell into the frightening pitfalls familiar to all parents. Heck, they even still love their parents (although they've lived most of their lives with their parents in two separate-but-equal households) and each other - a bonus!
But Sylvia Rose is just a golden nugget of pure joy, who sits as happily and as lightly in my soul as a warm ray of sunlight. That she is in this world is pure miracle, and I am free to just enjoy her. I can make things for her and give her clothes and books and anything I am able to give as she grows, and plan fun outings, and dream of a happy future with her, but her survival is not dependent on me. I can make whatever crazy outfits I want to for her, but the pressure of having to be the sole provider of everything she needs isn't there. Her food isn't coming from my breasts. She has a safe car seat (her parents even have a car, unlike me when my children were little!); her parents have cribs and changing tables and bouncy chairs and swings and diapers unlike any yet invented when I was a young mother; she has onesies and footies and hoodies and crazy hats and all kinds of fun stuff both frivolous and vital; when she grows bigger and the Boston weather turns cold, it is not my job (though I will jump in gladly if I am needed) to be sure she has a toasty snowsuit. I have been the mother on whom all these hourly, daily, yearly, needs fell, and I know how much weight the needs can bring and what it can do to a soul. But here I am now, "just" the grandmother, with not only the joy of seeing my child's child but with the lightness of spirit that comes from knowing that Sylvia's parents will do exactly everything that needs to be done. I proved competent when it was my job to be the parent, though it was certainly never easy and the outcome was never assured, and now I know that Matthew & Naomi will do the same.
I know, I know, all the threatening, scary dangers are still there, as they were for my own children, as they are for every soul born into this life; the faces of those dangers may vary, depending on the circumstances of any given child's birth, but there is no shortage of perils to be faced, no matter how privileged or well-loved the child. But Sylvia has arrived, safely and lustily, equipped with a perfectly-functioning set of baby-skills: she is unbelievably cute, she has a perfect suck-swallow reflex (sorry, I was a lactation consultant, so it's the first thing I assessed), she wakes and opens her eyes and acts adorable, she nurses regularly with great gusto and proficiency, she poops just like she's supposed to - in other words, the evolutionary survival skills that make babies acceptable despite their frequent loud needs and utter disruption of the formerly-known world are all working in her favor. She is born into everything she needs: the unquestioning love of a rather large family (the first of the next generation!), highly competent parents who are amazingly financially stable (unlike my own children, who were born to loving but unemployed hippies), a strong network of support with a wide variety of skills & talents (artists, medical personnel, computer wizards, librarians, social workers, many others), in a country where freedom, liberty, and justice are at least theoretically prized values, in a socioeconomic class where most Americans aspire to be...in other words, she's got it all. I think of Paul Simon's lyrics:
Never been lonely, never been lied to,
Never had to scuffle in fear, nothing denied to,
Born at the instant of church bells chiming,
Whole world whispering "Born at the right time"
So there sits little Sylvia, the focus of so much good stuff. And here I sit, with the thought of her warm little weight perfectly resting in me, and I know that it is good. She is equipped to make it - no, to triumph! - in this world, her parents love her and will do whatever they need to to keep her safe and healthy and happy and maybe even wise, and I have nothing more to do than love her. This is joy!