Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This degenerate age of miracles

I'm so happy to be back in Anne Shirley's head, though I think I only have one more book to read after I finish this one. Today a couple of quotes stuck out to me as I was reading on the pollen-dusted front porch and watching to make sure the kids didn't get run over while they chalked up the street.

First, is this:
[Mrs. Gibson says,] "This is a degenerate age, Miss Shirley." 
"Homer said the same thing eight hundred years, B.C.," smiled Anne.
I think that's referring to The Iliad, though I'm not sure because I've never exactly read The Iliad, but a quick Google search revealed that Homer does refer to a degenerate age (though from what I read about that he was talking about physically small, not morally wonton). But it's true! What's now considered the halcyon days of yesteryear was then thought morally reprehensible.

Like sewing collarless dress and wearing rouge and kissing your wife's cheek on the steps of the chapel—oh my!

So, really, every day and age has had their problems and every day and age has had their merits.

Later, still at Mrs. Gibson's house, is this charming exchange:
"You talk as if it was something to eat," grumbled Mrs. Gibson. "Babies are common enough." 
"Oh, no, babies are never common," said Anne.... "Every one is a miracle."

Sitting on my desk is a list I wrote up of angel babies I know (for a project I'm involved in). It's not a short list, in fact it's rather longish. I recently added the name of my dear friend Lora's sweet baby girl, who died eight days after birth due to a heart defect (her twin brother is doing well, however). They buried her the day before Easter.

So, there are stillborn babies and babies who die soon after birth—the babies who didn't quite make it into their mother's arms alive, but who were carried in the womb for months and months and who were so, so loved and wanted; the babies who made it into their mother's arms but only for a fleeting moment (spoiler alert: Anne has one of those angels herself).

And then there are all the women I know of (that I didn't make a list of) who've had early miscarriages—who lost babies before they got to hear the heartbeat, or feel those first kicks, or find out the gender and pick out a name.

And then, still, are all those who can't conceive or who struggle to conceive. All those negative pregnancy tests, month after month after month (after month...after...). Year after year for many. No matter what they try.

And then there are babies who are carried to term, despite being told they won't be, who are given a slim chance of survival, and yet are still alive on their second birthday. Their sweet mothers counting each day a miracle, going to appointment after appointment, scheduling surgery after surgery.

Oh, and adoption. My sweet friend Suzy and her husband were selected to be adoptive parents and were on the way to greet the baby but due to unforeseen complications the baby passed soon after birth—a tragedy for the birth mom as well as the would-be adoptive parents.

Of course there are wonderful adoption stories, too. And stories of IVF going just right. And people who can pop out a baby every year without having nary a complication.

But, honestly...every baby is a miracle. Life is a miracle.

When I think of all the things that can go wrong, when I think of those harrowing hours before Benjamin was born (and the many, many harrowing hours after he was born—because how many times does your heart need to stop, really?!), when I think of all the precautions I've had to take for this pregnancy, all I can think is, "every [baby] is a miracle."

So I'm very happy to be in Anne's head again because she's thoughtful and witty and spunky and reflective and quite often is very, very right about a lot of things.

Auntie Sarah's Facebook status this morning was:
Well.... I have been puked on... Peed on... Pooped on... All before 5:00 this morning!!! I have a long day ahead of me . ‪#‎beingamomproblems‬
I don't think there's a parent out there who didn't nod in solidarity (though, honestly, I think Sarah was probably referring to spit up and not puke (because puke is entirely different (and won't that just be fun for her to discover?))).

Later in the day Andrew posted a comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal that explains "what it's like having kids," and it made me laugh because it's so true.  The answer is that it's like you can install a happiness spigot right in your house that you activate only by looking at it...but it requires constant maintenance, is noisy, and "at random will suddenly release sewage." It's decided that the happiness spigot would still be worth it—it is a happiness spigot, after all. "Exactly," says the father.

And it's true. That's what having kids is like.

And so I posted it to Sarah's wall because in this degenerate age of miracles that's how I communicate to my sister-in-law that she's going to make it through all the spit up (and other random sewage leaks). After all, she has a happiness spigot right in her house—a miraculous, long-awaited happiness spigot.


  1. Someone posted a blog post yesterday about a young mother whose second baby was a really reliable crier, and how she changed her attitude--that he was going to cry and it was her JOB to comfort him--instead of being annoyed because he was crying AGAIN--and how that transformed her motherhood experience. Then flash forward to when most of her kids are older, but she has a whiny four year old, and she makes the same realization--that the four year old is NOT a problem, but her JOB to help him to be happy. It was a lovely read. Appreciating the miracle of her children. I wish I could find it again.

    1. Myrna my mom posted that too and I thought it would probably be easier if I had someone else to do my other jobs, like laundry, please someone take this job from me...oh well ;)