It was tradition that every night Mama or Daddy, or both would sit on the bed or lie down with us and tell us a story or sing, and pray. They'd pray for us to have good thoughts and good dreams and a good night's rest. After that, we knew we must lie quietly and even if we couldn't sleep, Mama would tell us to "close your eyes at least, and rest them". Of course, this meant falling asleep almost as soon as we thought we couldn't. Anna Grace and I shared a room until I was nineteen, so from the time I can remember, we learned what sharing meant and without meaning to, we shared so many memories and windows of history together that we can go back now to almost any of them and look out those windows, smiling and often shaking our heads in amusement at what we see. This window I step back to look through views our room one night. She was two, and I was four, and Mama lay between us in the dim light, humming. I liked to lay my head on her chest and listen to her voice from the inside. It was softer than daddy's, and more musical. Mama's voice and the rise and fall of her chest made me drowsy with a comfort so thorough within, that I've often gazed through that window of time, and others like it, relishing the sweetness of moments like those. Mama wore a purple silk robe, and I stroked it over and over. Surely, there must not be anything in the world as soft and nice as that purple robe, nor so fine, I thought. She paused in her singing and guided Anna Grace's and my hands to her belly, which was several months pregnant.
"Keep your hand here and be still," she said. In a moment we could feel a twitch from the inside and Mama explained that it was the baby, kicking. How puzzled and impatient I was!
"Why must we wait to meet the baby? Why does it stay in the belly?" I smoothed out the ruffles of curiosity by stroking that purple robe and soon mama's singing and the gentle rocking of her intonation as she prayed, left me curled up in comfort and sound asleep.
What is so strange to comprehend now, is that I am a Mama. I am the one with a baby in there, and I still find myself amazed, if not disbelieving. It's one thing to go from single to married, but from married to baby? Grandmama has told me so many times, "I still feel seventeen inside. When I look at the mirror and see such a wrinkled old face, I almost want to laugh! What is that old woman doing in there?" More and more I'm understanding her. I still feel like that seventeen year old too. Even younger than that, sometimes. What am I doing with a baby? Girls much younger than I have raised babies and started families, but somehow that fact doesn't seem to matter. Self doubt slides in from the narrow cracks, if I let it. Recently I was at an appointment for the baby, and they asked when I'd first felt the baby kick. Couldn't say. Really just couldn't remember the first time…was it 12 weeks or 15? I felt ashamed and irresponsible, and wanted to cry. So I got home, called mama, and did just that. And you know what? She laughed at me. Actually laughed at me and said,
"Hun, that doesn't even matter. What in the world are you feeling bad over that for?" Then she set me straight. "Having kids isn't something you go into being an expert at. You learn with each one."
"But what if I don't love it enough?" And, as unreasonable as it sounds, I've honestly questioned that.
"You will. It's built in. You may not know how much you love it now, but you've already begun to love it. I didn't know I had such a bond with the babies I was carrying until I lost them, and then it was like a piece of my heart was torn out. Now you're just worrying. So don't do it. The way God designed things is that when that baby gets here, you'll love it and it'll keep you company, and you'll figure out how to be a Mama. Won't even have to figure it out, really. It just comes to you."
One day a couple of months ago, I felt that fear of "what if I'm not a good mama" creeping up the back of my neck and I stopped it there. I said to myself (because I do talk to myself),
"You know, G? If God puts a baby in your life, or a child, or a person, it's not because you can't do what you're supposed to with it. He puts those people or children or babies in your life because He's already equipped you to deal with them, and to fulfill what they need from you. So, there's no use fretting that you're not the right person. You are. And that's why you're where you are, with the people and kids and babies you have in your life, Right Now."
Since then, I've felt more of a peace and a joy spreading over me - and I suppose simply the freedom to enjoy this journey. There are so many gifts to motherhood, and it's humbling to know God's allowing me to be a part of that. Sometimes my eyes get shiny from being 'eat up with the sweetness. JB coming home from work and talking to the baby, his head right up again the bump, and both of us feeling the little kicks and turns of that miracle inside.
"Baby," he says, "This is your daddy, and I love you. I love your mama too, and we're so glad you're our baby. We're going to meet you soon, and then we'll hold you and get to look at you, Little Watson."
I'm thankful. Thankful for a husband who loves God, and loves his baby and me. I'm thankful for a mama who will laugh at me when I need it, and will straighten out my overanalyzed thoughts. I'm thankful for a baby to raise, and love and learn from. And I'm thankful God has already given me what I need to do it, by Golly.
These small hours are the ones that count.