13 June 2008

thankful some more

I've been thinking a whole lot about what it really means and what it really should mean to me that I live in the time and place that I do. Alongside that, it's really hit home to me lately how thankful I should be (I am, but I could never be thankful enough I don't think) for the family and home that God has provided me.

I was looking at my gorgeous, wonderful, amazing baby boy the other day and (as usual) just became overwhelmed by how much I love him. It's no wonder I spent the first little while after he was born sitting around in a big puddle of mush and sobbing every time I looked at him. Motherly love is the strongest, deepest, and most encompassing and bittersweet thing I've ever felt. It's wonderful and horrible at the same time.

But I digress...

As I was sitting there looking at him, I thought of something I read somewhere a while back. Many years ago, it was very common for a child to never reach his first birthday. There were so many diseases and so few treatments that it was just a given that, yes, your family probably was going to be affected by the loss of a child. This was so common, in fact, that many families refrained from naming their children until their first birthday.

I read this before I had Scotty, and while I had some idea of how deeply I would love my children, I didn't have a clue. I remember thinking that you would end up calling the kid something... like how when a dog doesn't have a name people just end up calling it "Dog." I missed the point up until the other day when it crossed my mind for no reason really (other than God putting it there, I'm convinced).

Not naming their children was some kind of attempt to not become too attached to them. They decided that since there was a good chance they would die, they would do their best to keep them at arms length until they were more assured of their health. These mothers, these strong, hard-working, tough-as-nails women made themselves hold back this love that comes so naturally and like so much water from the flood gates. They clothed them, bathed them, comforted their cries, and no doubt held them at their breast day in and day out of that first year... and still desperately tried to hold back that love. I can't imagine how anxiously they must have watched for the rise and fall of their chests as they slept or how their hearts tightened with fear at the sound of each cough or the tiniest hint of a rattle in their little chests. I can't imagine the relief that first birthday brought to the ones who got to celebrate them. Not that the 365th day is any more significant than the 364th, but a milestone is a milestone nonetheless.

I remember doing the same thing when I hit the 13 week mark. "Phew, past the scary part," I thought.

We named our son the day after he was born. And it wasn't terribly long after he was born when we first mentioned the then-far-off first birthday party. Oh, how we've taken it all for granted! Infant deaths are not nearly as common anymore, thankfully, but I know they still happen and that to those mothers who've lost babies, it's just as huge as if it did happen to nearly everyone. My heart goes out to them in whatever small way it can. I know (and I pray to God) that I can't understand all the many breaks in their hearts. I do know that if I had as many breaks in my heart as I have love for my baby, it would seem that I had no heart left at all.

God is so good to me. He blesses us every day with health and peace and freedom and I so easily take all this for granted. The beautiful squirmy little blue-eyed blessing that He's placed in our care is too much to be thankful for; I don't think I'm capable of giving enough thanks yet.

Maybe someday when I get to Heaven, after God makes me like Jesus, and after I get done praising Him for saving me, He'll let me thank Him properly for giving me a mother's heart and for filling it to overflowing... over and over and over...