As I reach up from the wheelchair to accept the tiny bundle my eyes widen and my heart seizes. "Are they really going to let me take you home, little one? What makes them think I can care for you properly? I killed all my African violets, for heaven's sake! And last week I totally slept through Roger's raucous card game. The cat nearly trips me before I remember to feed him. What if I forget to feed you?" Anxious thoughts erupt one after the other, causing my raised hands to shake.
"Are you okay? A little tired, perhaps? Maybe I should push him down in his bassinette." As if my own worries aren't enough. Now I've managed to alarm the nurse.
"I'm fine." The infant moves only slightly as his cocoon is nestled into the crook of my arm. He draws my attention like a magnet, making me barely aware of our procession down the hall. He is warm and beautiful. Delicate eyelashes rest on sumptuous cheeks punctuated by a comma for a nose. The shape of a heart adorns his upper lip, resting on the beginnings of a pout. "What was it that Grandma said about his chin? Ah yes, 'an angel must have kissed him there, for a perfect dimple remains as evidence.'"
"My son is beautiful, not handsome." The sudden revelation, or else the jolt of the descending elevator, causes my stomach to lurch. "Will the other children think he's girly? Call him names like 'wimp' or 'pretty boy?' Will he get picked on at recess and eat his lunch by himself, causing his teachers to whisper among themselves and shake their heads with pity?"
The door has opened again and my son and I are wheeled toward the lobby. I relax a little as onlookers pause, regarding us tenderly. Apparently I don't look as inept as I feel. Maybe I'm not an unfit mother after all.
That thought evokes an unwelcome memory from three Sunday nights ago. It was time for my hourly trek to the bathroom to relieve my restricted bladder. The dog whined to relieve hers as well, so I picked her up and waddled to the back door, whacking her in the head with the door as I opened it. She leapt from my arms and cowered, whimpering under the picnic table. She still tucks her tail between her legs whenever I approach. "What if I accidentally harm my own child? Or worse yet, frighten him by losing my temper? Will he someday wince when I raise my hand? Will he run to hide when I call his name?"
A kiss on my forehead interrupts my frightful retrospection. "Motherhood suits you," Roger whispers. "You positively glow."
Touching my flushed cheeks, I smile faintly. Oblivious as usual, Roger is simply being his easy-going self. Yet somehow at this moment his jovial, laid-back manner irritates me.
"Here, honey. Why don't you take your little prince and fasten him into his car seat?" Sarcasm rolls off my tongue with the words. "I assume you have it properly installed and all the straps sorted out and adjusted." I watch for any hint of trepidation, but there is none. Roger calmly lifts our son, placing him gently into his seat, only slightly fumbling with the straps he is fastening. All the while he croons a soothing lullaby.
Un-beckoned tears squeeze out, streaming down my cheeks, releasing my worries, my doubts, my fears like a flood. Whether it's unbalanced hormones or a bad case of the jitters, I don't know. But I do know that I don't have to do this alone. The God of the universe has promised never to leave me. And Roger, my amazing, even-tempered, God's gift of a husband, promised the same thing.
I settle into the back seat next to our son who continues his peaceful sleep, totally unaware of my inexperience and insecurities. He absolutely trusts in my ability to care for him. Surely I can rest as peacefully in God's strength and trust as fully in His power.
Glancing sideways, I note that our baby's pout has turned into a lop-sided smile, and fresh concerns tumble through my mind. "Is he still breathing? Are his nerves and muscles all connected right? Will the left corner of his mouth always droop like that?"
Be still, my fretful soul.
I love the Lord Jesus with all of my heart. Besides being a teacher, I have been a newspaper guest columnist and have had several short stories and poems published. I love extracting beauty from the ordinary: vegetables, notes, fabric, flowers, paper, weeds, words.
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