When most people are preparing to parent children, they have 9 months to watch them grow prior to their arrival. You know where they are, safe and sound within nest of their mother's uterus. They are floating there suspended almost weightlessly in amniotic bliss, the water-like fluid that originates from the maternal plasma, and passes through the fetal membranes by osmotic and hydostatic forces. You don't have to worry where they are and whose care they are under, that is self-evident.
You get months to sing through stomach tissue to the little one, wooing them to the other side playfully and tenderly. You get to feel them kick and twist and turn fighting the cramped living space. You get to prepare your home with a nesting instinct in that miserable last trimester. With every month, the child makes itself more known crowding into your bed with you making it more and more uncomfortable to enjoy natural instincts like breathing, sleep and sex. This third party or third wheel goes with you everywhere, and yet, still hasn't arrived in the truest sense of the word. You are given an intermediate time of test driving the vehicle that will forever change your reality.
But I think the most overlooked beauty of this 9-month orientation is the knowledge of the child's location and watch-care. You know where they are and who they're with. You know how they're being treated and what they're being fed. You can take neonatal pills to ensure health and vitality. You can obey "inordinate cravings" for pickles and peanut butter and chocolate ice cream when the child's cravings cry out for something in particular. You don't have to worry about whether the child is being neglected or malnourished or mistreated. You don't have to think about whether he or she has being given physical affection or verbal communication. You don't have to wonder about the sleeping arrangements or whether they are clothed and sheltered from the elements. You don't have to obsess about "separation anxiety", your own or the child's. There is no separation, only anxiety.
That is why today I am thinking about what orphanage they are at and who their caretakers are. I am thinking about whether they are being held and talked to, nurtured and nourished. I wonder about their diet and whether they are getting enough milk for their teeny tiny immune systems. I wonder about how they are getting along with the other orphans crammed in some undersized living space. Are they being kept up at night with incessant crying; are they being given medicine for ruptured eardrums; are they being rocked back to sleep when they get spooked by a sudden sound? Who is checking in on them periodically to see if they are gaining weight or getting sickly? Who cares about them as more than a number in an institution? Do their caretakers understand that it's my son they are rocking to sleep? Do they understand that every touch of hand and tone of voice makes all the difference in the world to their development? Do they know that I'm counting on them to treat my boys with dignity and delicacy? I hope that God speaks that into their conscience today for me. I counting on Him to do that, in fact.
That's what I'm thinking about this morning. The first three children my wife and I brought into this world, we had the peace of knowing that they were always in our presence, always in our protective care. We had the constant reminder of their presence as my wife's belly expanded to make room for their intrusion. We were able to slowly adapt our lives to ready ourselves for their "grand entrance". We knew that if something went wrong, we were there, we were responsible, we were the primal and primary parents. But this time, none of these calming characteristics accompany the arrival of our boys.
We have to entrust all of these innate instincts to someone else, somewhere else. Someone we don't know living somewhere we've never been. This is unnatural.
We are counting on God to be the womb and woman. We are counting on him to be the nurse and the neonatal pills. We are counting on him to be the tender touch and the soothing voice. We are counting on him to be the father and the shelter, the milk and the marrow. We are entrusting our little boys to the watch care of their creator, the maker and sustainer of all living things, the one who holds all things together.
Hold our boys today, Father. Hold them together. Hold them for me and my wife. We can't right now, but you can.