Baby Spoons and the Crust

A lot of thought-provokers happened today during my 30-minute lunch break, and I can’t help but take a few minutes to reflect on them here before settling in with transcripts and info sheets and all of the other important tasks I have to do.

Are kids you know picky about sandwich crusts? Lydia is. Unless she’s starving and there’s a good deal of peanut butter smeared to the very end of the bread slice, she isn’t interested in crusts. Today she polished off her PBH and left the crusts on her plate, asking if she could eat something else. We suggested the remaining pieces of her sandwich, but she wasn’t THAT hungry. Meanwhile, Elvis sat staring at his plate with a PBJ cut in half, no bites taken and that face that says, “I really, really don’t want to eat this, but if I make any move like I don’t, I’ll get sent to time out, again, so I guess I’ll just sit here and stare at it.” So Lydia asked if she could eat Elvis’s sandwich, unaware that Brandon had used the ends of the bread to make his sandwich – only one side visible. We handed her the sandwich and she wolfed it down. All we could say to one another was, “Hilarious.” And then, of course, the fact that Lydia had half of Elvis’s sandwich was enough to send him into fits and sobs, even though (as previously stated) someone was about as anti-sandwich as vegans are anti-pork chop. We gave him back half of the sandwich and he went at it with the same enthusiasm Lyd had demonstrated over her quite crusty PBJ.

We don’t really know what we want. Crusts or no crusts. Sandwich or no sandwich. A little bit of both. We’re clueless, envious, subjective creatures.

After the PBJ episode, the kids were back to behaving like normal human beings. And then they began a conversation about heaven. We talk about heaven often–their day care place talks about heaven occasionally, and we’ve told them that Great Pop and Tex and the baby that was in mommy’s belly (see previous post) are in heaven, so it comes up. Today’s conversation started with Elvis saying, “Baby in heaven,” and Lydia followed up by saying, “When the baby comes back from heaven and it grows up a little, it’ll need baby spoons.” Then they discussed between the two of them whether they wanted a baby boy or a baby girl.

I’ve often wondered whether children who do not make it to term have another go-around. It’s all speculation what goes on, anyway, and why, and how, and when. Do I have four children hanging out with Jesus in heaven, waiting to meet me? Who knows? Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see, and probably this area of life–death and loss–requires the greatest amount of faith. And I believe – not in my own fantasies and musings about happy little people clinging to the robes of Christ, but in a loving, compassionate, patient, merciful, just, mysterious, and powerful God of the universe. I stand in awe of him. And because I believe these things and hope for what I cannot see, I can trust that whatever the circumstances, he is the great redeemer.

This past weekend was the first time Brandon and I talked about “the future” and “our plans” (God knows the plans he has for us… plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future… and he chuckles at “our plans” all the time, I’m sure) since the miscarriage two weeks ago. I’m not ready to give up on more children, and he’s not ready to say let’s keep trying for more children, which leaves us contentedly undecided for the long term. This is our fourth miscarriage, and he’s tired of this. I certainly don’t enjoy going through this, either, but I guess I’m just less prepared to say enough. I can’t retire my vision of our family as more-than-the-four-of-us. It is kind of nice to return to my own self – I like being able to exercise and feeling physically fit, and I like being able to have a drink now and again, and I like not being tired or anxious about whether everything’s okay. But I’m happy to sacrifice the comforts of possessing my own body for nine+ months in order to have another little person in our family.

I had no response to Lydia and Elvis’s dialogue, so we both just smiled and watched the two of them, and we hovered there in our land of indecision and longing. There’s no real way to answer the question, “Why do you want to have more kids?” Is it because I’m wired to want to be fruitful and multiply? I don’t know. I don’t know why I want more children. I’ve heard it said, “You have a boy and a girl – that’s perfect! You can be done!” as if that’s the only reason people keep trying to have more kids – in order to have one of each gender. I could list off reasons why I want to have more and also the advantages to only having two. But would it really provide a solution or give additional clarity, like weighing the pros and cons? I don’t know if it would. I think if I were told, you really shouldn’t/can’t have any more kids, I would be able to let it go, but no one has said this, except for the occasional insensitive person.

Like many forms of loss and grief, a miscarriage dominates your thoughts for an indeterminable period of time. For days, weeks, and sometimes months, the mom-to-be is focused on being a mom-to-be — eating right, exercising right, sleeping well… and then, just like that, all of the energy put into thinking about being a mom is channeled elsewhere, and the first place it goes is into loss and grief. And that turns into questions and hypothetical situations, which turns into hunting for answers as to why this happened and sometimes evolves into blame – self, God, others, etc. And then we struggle and flounder about, gradually find other areas to channel thoughts, wrestle with God and what we believe about him and his involvement in our personal affairs, whether we believe him to be a good God or a cruel one, and what does that mean for the rest of my life? Sometimes we find rest and resolve and healing. I wonder how many of us just pack that grief into our hearts and hope that the wound will scab over if we bury it deep enough.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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