A Painted House

Dear James: Month Seven

Posted on: January 5, 2011

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: November 17, 2008

Dear James,

Yesterday you turned seven months old. I am writing this month’s letter from your Grandparents’ home, the farmstead built six generations of Caspers ago, and the house in which every generation of your family thus far has lived.  Your father grew up in this home and to see you sleeping in his old room that first night made him a little smooshy.  Much as I anticipate he will feel the first time you sit with him in his tree stand, paintball in the barn, or someday, if we’re very lucky and you’re a quick learner, feel too lazy to come inside and instead pee in the bushes behind the garage.  Oh, how proud I’ll feel at that precious moment.

This month your personality has been divided fairly evenly between two extremes.  Half of the time you’ve been jovial and amazingly easily entertained by your dad’s caterpillar-shaped eyebrows, and the other half of the time you’ve been known as CrabApple.  It’s one of those one-name-only identifiers like Beyonce, Prince, or Moses.  We were thrilled to discover that your bouts of The Whining were due to two tiny, yet ferocious teeth poking through your bottom gums and not just some particularly unattractive aspect of your personality beginning to appear.  For two weeks you were at war with these teeth, and it turns out war makes you CRANKY.  Once the teeth finally made their appearance you were back to your old self, leaving me both sighing in relief and nervously contemplating how your new weapons of mass destruction are going to affect yours and my eating relationship.  James, I cannot stress enough that the means by which you currently extract your meals works perfectly well. There is NO NEED for you to break out any sharp objects; no extra packaging that needs removing, no alternate flavors available to you if you just chomp a little harder.  Should you choose to test that theory you may find yourself suddenly quite alone, as Mama will be clinging to the ceiling.

Speaking of eating, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that you were born in the age of entertainment, as you are no longer content to just concentrate on the task at hand and finish your meal in a timely fashion.  No, you require entertainment of some kind while you eat, preferably something that occupies your free arm; the arm sticking straight up like an unadorned flagpole.  Your preferred pass times are grabbing at my hair, squeezing my nose, or your absolute favorite – sticking your fingers in my mouth.  You love this one the most because your first two fingers are firmly lodged in your own mouth 90% of your day, a feat that can’t be accomplished while you eat.  Though to your credit, you do keep trying, placing them in, pulling them out, placing them in, pulling them out.  And it seems my mouth is an acceptable substitute, a holding pen if you will, until your mouth is once again unoccupied.  I admit, I let you do all of these things.  Mostly because there are very few things on this planet that I wouldn’t do if it gets you to settle down and EAT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I have a feeling those five words will be my mantra in the next few years, perhaps even the theme of your childhood.  Either that or, ‘When we’re inside we use the POTTY, not the FICUS.’ So there we are, you and me, cuddled close and filling your tummy, with your arm fully extended and your chubby little fingers artfully painting my face in spit.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I think it bears mentioning that during the sixth month of your life our country hit a historical milestone. Two weeks ago your Dad and I loaded you up in your stroller and walked through the beautiful fall weather to our voting location and cast our ballots for the next President.  As it happens an African American man was elected to our nation’s highest office for the first time. The people of our nation are jubilant, dancing in the streets at the news and dreaming hopeful dreams for how this man will increase our savings accounts and cheapen our groceries, settle our overseas disputes and increase our autonomy.  And while I’m happy for President Obama’s achievement and this advancement of equality in our society, I will tell you that he is not the person your Dad and I had hoped would assume our leadership.  Our primary reason for voting against him is because of his stance on abortion.  Our new leader has made it clear in both is previous voting record and his public statement of intention, that he supports allowing any mother, no matter how old or informed, to have an abortion at any time, without hindrance.  And while I’ve always been morally opposed to abortion, I feel an even higher sensitivity to this issue now, James, because of you.  You were so very wanted.  We asked God for you, we rejoiced over your existence, pleaded with God for your health and safety.  I carried you in my body, felt you move and stretch, heard your heartbeat, watched you take your first breath. And I cannot possibly understand how anyone having experienced those things could celebrate a leader who wants to give women the clearest possible path to end those innocent, unassuming little lives. My heart grieves for your peers, the millions in your generation who will never experience that first breath.  You’ve reinforced my conviction, illustrated in such a powerful, wiggling, cooing, giggly way, just how important it is to take a Biblical stand on this issue and fight for the lives of all those unwanted children, chosen and created in the image of God just as you were. This year of your birth was a monumental year in the history of our country, James.  And your Dad and I will continue to plead with God that just as you have arrived into this world, that He will not turn his face away from it.

Love, Mama

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