Even if I was the best writer of my dreams, I could never apprehend the essence and grandeur of our sunshineman.
But it’s his birthday. And thus I brave inevitability sounding trite. (Love makes us willing to stray into our deepest fears.)
I found out Sunshineman was on the way in the midst of the worst weirdness of sickness, despite a life of ups and downs, I’d ever experienced. And, what was worse, is that significant portions of my family were also experiencing the phenomenon. And it seemed to be brought on by our home (an important place in concept to me. heh).
Today, a year ago, I was tromping around Oregon City working a high-emotion 60 hours a week and still recovering from pneumonia and a personally pathetic trip to Ukraine. My face was still swollen from cracking my chin in Alaska months before. Most of the people I loved were dying through issues in our church. It may seem silly to say, but this meant walking through the worst fractures and seemingly unsolvable pain I’d experienced. It’d only been a few months since meeting the love-of-my-life. Interesting times, for sure.
Life was more or less characterized by work, nutritious popcorn dinners, staring (often feelingless) at my Bible, doctor runs, crying or wishing I could cry…and, obviously, the excessive grace and care of my Father. It was a year of necessary, heart-wrenching beauty, but in the middle of it, and even looking back, it was the hardest of my little existence. (Didn’t want to write this post because everything seems conventional as cheerios.)
Our sunshineman was overdue to come out and join the fray. And my sister called and we went walking about. (How I survived the various years before their respective entries into my life–my sister, my brother-in-law, and our sunshineman–is now hard to comprehend.)
Beyond valiant, my sister was. And my brother-in-law too, despite a debilitating cold with delirium (shortly followed by appendicitis ). The sunshineman came into the world much like he smiles now–serious, contemplative, without expectation for a time…and then all at once.
The nights that followed meant losing sleep, not because Sunshineman was a fuss-budget, but because his aura, asleep in his basket, was like a freakish web of peace. The first day
our his parents went back on the job, we curled up on the futon. The Christmas tree was there, a stack of books, some weepiness from both parties, and a lot of flash-flooding over aching holes.
Phew. Then all the other days.
At one year, Sunshineman lacks the ability to hold grudges, doubt intentions, give the silent treatment, doubt your dedication, accept that food runs out, or love conditionally (okay, all of his love is probably totally conditional, but it doesn’t feel like it).
And like everything I am tempted to think of as weaker than myself, our sunshineman is constantly destroying me at the weight of my own pride and doubt.
In full affirmation of original sin and the value of maturity, “weak” people are so much stronger than I am. And in this degree, Sunshineman is more than a part-time superhero. He startles me with his joy in total dependence and lack of control (even of his own bowels).
And this is what I really want to think about.
(I’ve harped about the rest elsewhere. And I’ll just quietly illustrate the point by turning his birthday post into a manifesto about myself. Thus the years give us human beings more complex and devious ways of selfishness, even as our faith rightly grows.)
In the year of Sunshineman and working with other dependents (mostly older), my lack of grace about my lack of autonomy crawled right out into the open.
If I’m experiencing a problem, I want to go behind a closed door. And if someone helps me out of my own bind, I feel so embarrassed my existence comes into question. Despite the one million and one ways I am a really a needy milquetoast, I haven’t learned to rejoice in this with grace.
My whiny, hopeless, angsty frustration with myself or with relationships or running out of organic popcorn kernels is often a little fist wagging at mortality. But calling to cancel an event or a failure to fulfill any duty and the sudden, absorbing impression that the world is ending in grief just holds less water when Sunshineman recently learned to wave. And somehow he is quite happy about it, despite someone dressing him that morning, his diaper being full, and having no control over continued cash and resource (and milk) flow.
Besides the occasional humorous anecdote, maybe I find it hard to write about my incredible 13 nieces and nephews because there is very little regret about them. It’s hard to dwell in the middle of black-clad, languid, longing of the self-pitying soul when they are standing there–walking about, trying ice cream, repeating knock-knock jokes, recovering from a 5-minute despair about pears.
This is why, I think, I can never safely stray from community that doesn’t involve the “weak” or immature. Not just because of the restored wonder, child-like faith, but the direct smack reminder not to take myself too seriously…or permanently. If, for some reason, someone is spoon feeding me in a few years, it will be the worst. But somehow Sunshineman thinks it’s the greatest thing now. With all his other sins, bitterness hasn’t had its way. And it shouldn’t with us either. Not with such a Father that will give me a full spoon always somehow.
All our daily bread. Not all our daily accomplishments and independence.
I can’t articulate this in the different way that I mean it from what I learned from old people. It’s just when it’s through our babies, I have to deal with hope of this actual world. It’s like this anticipation and joy in the future comes right up in our souls, no matter how stuck we might feel. For babies, we revert to better-world-bright-tomorrow without thinking it.
I don’t know. But at least I’ve broken ground on talking about you, little man. Happy 1st Birthday.
Today I am remembering your dimpled shoulder and the way you rest your hand on ours, re-watching videos of your laugh which suddenly sounds toddler-esk, inadvertently making grandma faces when I think of your tricks, admiring your contentment with steamed peas, humored by your contemplative lap sitting followed by keyboard lunging, delighting in your utter joy of pillows, and eager to see you stand in actual for-realz-life.
I know there is a lot more to you, locked away in your great, duck-downed head, than we’ve yet discovered. And you will lose some of the things we know and should.
You will develop other things, maybe you will learn not to wail when the fireplace is forbidden, but you will become a rampant terror in other areas. Struggles will become more complex as we start to understand your complexity. You will not grow straight up like a tree, but you are off to a good start. You have parents and a Savior who are eager to give you everything. And you have responded in joy. Maybe simple. But obedience is more like a theme with variations than what I thought. If you grow sun-ward, you will be okay.
Establish your trust that Someone is and will be there when you cry out and retain your happiness in your inability to be autonomous. I think you will always be far ahead of your Aunt Boppy.
You’ve already taught her a lot of lesson. Like just how dependent she can be on something as new as you. That’s what’s feeling pretty close to home while she’s away these four months.