“What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” John 13:7
This morning I woke up at 5:15 to do some work. [I know! On a Saturday no less.] About an hour later, I heard Philomena crying through the monitor. This was definitely too early for her to be up. Then I heard Ryan going to her and comforting her only to be met with a screeching, “Moooooommmmmy! Moooooommmmmy! Moooooommmmmy!” I considered just ignoring it and letting him deal with her [and he gladly would have], but it was Ryan’s first morning to sleep past 6:00 in months, and I felt a twinge of wifely guilt. So, I closed the computer and went upstairs.
When I picked her up, Mena immediately quieted, and I decided to bring her to our bed to cuddle. Quickly she fell back asleep in my arms. Since I was wide awake, I definitely contemplated sneaking away to get some more work done, but then I decided this was one of those soak-up-the-moment-because-your-baby-is-getting-so-big times. And so, I just held my sleeping toddler and prayed in the early morning light.
I will admit I’ve been having a lot more of these moments lately. And it goes deeper than the cliche “oh, they grow up so fast!” kind of mentalities. Since Ryan and I have been dealing with secondary infertility [we’ve actively been trying to have a baby since our miscarriage almost a year ago], there is a very distinct possibility she may be our only child. I don’t mean this in a pessimistic or pity-seeking way; it is just the reality of the situation.
Lately, I’ve made comments to Ryan like, “sometimes I wish I would have known in that first year she might be our only baby. Maybe I would have been more present. Maybe I would have approached those months differently.”
However, the more I think and pray about it, it is probably good that the Lord shielded us from that knowledge. An example that comes to mind was when I was studying abroad in Europe for a semester in college. Every weekend I went to a different country for a new adventure. I remember someone giving me the advice, “you should go to each new city with the mentality that you will be coming back someday.” At first, I thought that notion was ludicrous. I figured I should be doing the opposite. I should be going to each city as if I would never be back, so as to do and see everything that I could. However, I quickly learned that there is a lot to take in when traveling in a new place. And the times I tried to do and see “everything,” I wouldn’t be having a good time, and I just ended up stressed out.
I think the same would have happened if I knew Philomena may be our only child. I was already pretty emotional about milestones and having her “grow up.” If I would have known this may be the only time I experienced it, I think I would have been almost paralyzed with stress and anxiety about “experiencing” it perfectly.
And if I look deep inside myself, I really don’t have any major regrets regarding those early months. Indeed, I did soak up her newborn-ness, just gazing at her for hours and hours on end. I did appreciate those hundreds [thousands?] hours of nursing. And we took an absolutely ridiculous amount of pictures and videos. I am sure we were distracted at times, but overall we were present, probably more so than we had ever been in our former lives. If I would have known she may be our “only,” I would have been accompanied by a constant fear of “missing this moment.”
Yes, it is true that she may be our only child. Or maybe God will, indeed, grant us another baby. Or perhaps He will open the door to adoption. And maybe that door will be for an older child, not a newborn. Or maybe it will be for a baby. Your prediction is as good as mine at this point.
Regardless, this post is not really about the “what if” of our future. Rather, I am starting to realize that we need to find that balance in embracing the present moment, because there never will be another one just like “the now.” On the other hand, if I live my life with the fear of each of these moments leaving, then I am never truly “in” them. Christ said, “do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). This is true, of course, but I also think it applies to yesterday: He has already taken care of the past too, so we need to learn to let go.
“My past, O Lord, to Your mercy; my present, to Your love; my future to Your providence.” St. Padre Pio