This Sunday I'm having my little one, my son, baptized into the community that has already accepted him (and us) into their midst. Last year when my daughter asked to go through this ritual, I knew that she had reasons for wanting to do this. She had seen many children baptized, and she had thought about it. Even though she was only six years old, she seemed to grasp some of the weight of her decision.
Last year when my daughter was baptized, I decided, that as a family, I wanted both of my children to be able to share in the Eucharist - receiving the bread and wineat the table. So despite the fact that my son had not yet been baptized, I let him begin receiving communion. My reasoning, faulty it may be, was that as a family, we had all been attending the church for nearly a year and together we would go to the table to receive what was being offered and to give what we offer - the love of Christ, fellowship with a new family, our own thanksgiving for the blessings of our common life.
For the past few months, my son has mentioned that he wants now to do what his sister did a year ago. At first I sort of let the conversation drift around and didn't really question him or talk with him much about it. I offered the typical momism..."OK, we'll see." As he has grown more and more sure of himself recently, I finally told him I would mention it to our priest and move forward. He was pleased, and for the past week he has gotten downright excited about what was to come.
My son is in many ways me, in male form. My son, since the night before his birth, has not been an easy child. His entrance into this world was rocky. After a simple, and full 39 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, I was preparing for bed. I had put our 2 and 1/2 year old daughter to bed in her toddler bed, fed the dogs and was ready to heave my large belly into bed. I had been assured by my doctor a day earlier, that I was still probably a week or so away from delivering. My son, unlike my daughter, was in the right position to be delivered naturally, and I was living in that slow period of waiting for his arrival. As I crawled into bed, I decided to make one last trip to the bathroom. And then in dramatic fashion when I stood up, my water broke. I was stunned. And a little unnerved. I wasn't ready for this new adventure just yet.
Regardless of my preparations, the contractions started, and pretty soon I found myself in a hospital room. We arrived there around midnight, and I assumed that by morning I would be holding my son. My expectations were not immediately met. I labored through the night and the next morning...and the next afternoon...finally my doctor came to me and said, the baby was in distress each time I contracted, and that he was not going to come on his own, that they wanted to perform a c section. I was so tired by the time this development happened, I quickly consented, and was ready to meet this child. I recall very clearly the moment of my son's birth...it was silent. He didn't cry. He was blue. I was frightened. Within a minute he was screaming and bright pink. I remember crying in relief. He was here, he was alive and by all accounts he was healthy, and born on his due date, after 21 hours of labor.
My daughter, as an infant and toddler, was affectionate, loving and happy most days. My son was not really any of these things. He was an adorable baby, and not at all a fussy infant...but he had his quirks that were clear early on. He didn't take to people the way his sister did. He was cautious and sometimes seemingly anxious about situations and events. He resisted change, and was only content if we were following our ordinary routine. And to complicate things further, he had health issues that landed him in a doctor's office or hospital often from birth until he was over 2 years old.
And yet...and still...I have always understood him. He is so much who and how I was at his age, and his life has healed me in so many ways. I recall feeling the way he often seems to feel. Not entirely trusting people around me, not having an innate ability to show affection to those around me. As he ages and learns to express himself and to accept the love of those around him, I am continually amazed by this boy.
By far the best part of today was seeing how much he has changed and grown in just a few, short years. He was excited, loving and happy. And he was able to express those feelings openly to the people around him. Shortly after he was baptized, he ran into my arms and said, "that was awesome mom." I told him how I proud of him I was. He is in all ways, my child.