This conversation happened on a Sunday morning nearly a decade ago. This couple sat near us, and I met them during the ‘meet-n-greet.’ Back then, little conversations like this one were a highlight of my morning, back in the days before I became an introvert. They struck up a conversation.
“So, do you have any children?”
“We do. We have two little boys. They’re two and three.”
“Oh. Oh, my. We have two boys, but they’re 23 and 24.”
The woman patted my hand. And then she took mine between both of hers, like you do when you’re a very kind person with something important and intimate to say.
“Honey, I’m not going to tell you what’s ahead of you. You would only worry. You just have to do it yourself. It’s so much fun, and you’ll love so much of it. But I can’t tell you about it. You just have to do it.”
That was some very interesting advice that I found mildly terrifying at the time. She was absolutely right.
If someone had told me I would lose two babies before I could keep two babies, and I would journey through speech delay, surgeries, broken bones, hospital visits, and hurt feelings for everyone involved, I would have indeed become consumed with worry.
Because those facts don’t allow room for the other truths they carry in their hands. Yes, there was speech delay, but now he talks. (In fact, today he asked me to stop talking.) Yes, there were surgeries, but there were recoveries. And I got to be the mom on the scene. Yes, there were broken bones and multiple casts for an entire summer, but there were laughs and stories to go with each new one. Yes, there were hospital visits, but there was bonding and confidence that I had never known before. Yes, there were (and are) hurt feelings almost every single day. But we are learning to love each other more. We are learning grace. We are choosing us. All of us.
Worry doesn’t allow room for the good stuff.
It’s better to do that which is right in front of me. Right now. That’s all.
Otherwise, I will just worry.
It’s better not to know. Because you never really can.
“When we have children, we know they will need us, and maybe love us, but we don’t have a clue how hard it is going to be.
We also can’t understand when we’re pregnant, or when our relatives are expecting, how profound and dicey it is to have a shared history with a child, shared blood, shared genes, even humor.
It means we were actually here, on earth, for a time, like Egyptians with their pyramids, but with kids, it’s an experiment: you wait and see what will come of it, and with people, that almost always means a mess.
I see Sam and me get mad at each other, over and over, but then we apologize, become friends again; I see how each time this is redemption.
How amazing it is to share that.”
~ Anne Lamott