My first daughter is a busy, harried mother of two blonde, blue-eyed angels -- a precocious second grader and a mischievous pre-schooler -- and she is about to give birth to my third Viking grandchild (presumably) . . . any minute . . . Really. Any. Second. But she took the time to send me a series of ecstatic texts last week . . . Not because she was going into labor (she is now) but because she is just on the edge of her first paid writing gig.
Something deep in our genetic coding takes precedence and compels us to put our words, our hearts, our purpose to page . . . as I am doing now as I wait.
She is me but with a more fully developed sanguine heart and with an energy that defies logic and makes the world a better place . . . Always bubbling over with plans and thoughts and words and stories that must go somewhere. She is brilliant and compassionate, wickedly funny and tenacious in her pursuit of all things life. She has a genuine love for the elderly that also manifests in her life's paid work . . . And a love for the hearts of other mommies who have experienced the same struggles that she has -- post-partum depression, grief, deep insecurities, the pain of rejection and overlook, and just plain woman-tired -- she writes to these women, indiscriminately.
She is real, my little girl turned Little Mountain Momma . . . again and again . . . and again . . . who showed up as the biggest surprise of my life over 31 years ago and turned my life right side up . . . when she was barely a thought . . .
But considered a choice.
She is real . . . and she is good. I could see it from the day she was born . . . too good for me and where I was in life . . . Just barely 19 and broken . . . With walls built of grief, deep insecurities, the pain of rejection and overlook, and just plain woman-tired already. She was too good for me and I wasn't ready for her. I wasn't ready to give up the dream of the life I imagined. I wasn't ready for the financial responsibility. I wasn't ready to look after someone else -- indefinitely -- when still trying to find myself. I wasn't ready for the battle of wills that ensued from a seven pound human being and extended well into adulthood (hers and mine;). . .
I wanted to sleep. She wanted me awake. I wanted to nurse her. She was diametrically opposed, preferring a bottle. I wanted her safe in a private school. She wanted to stay in public and hated me for a while. I said no boys. She found one from Indiana at summer camp when she was thirteen . . . and married him (not that day). She wanted me to get a flu shot and and a Whooping Cough vaccine before I held her new baby. I wanted . . . well . . . not to . . .
But do you know what? Nobody is ever ready for the complete responsibility . . . the lifelong commitment . . . . of another human being. Babies have a way of making you while they're breaking you. She deserved better. I got better. She demanded it from the beginning. It was a formidable job for a newborn, but from the day she was born -- even before -- she began chipping away at those walls. On the day she was born, she blasted out a whole section . . . The one with the sign that said: It's all about me.
But in a second . . . in the time it takes to quell the flutter of a heartbeat . . . In a second it could have all been obliterated . . . And I would have never been changed . . . by the ocean blue of her newborn eyes . . . by the white-blonde tilt of her three year old head looking upward for Jesus in the clouds . . . by the compassion poured into the world in the wisdom of her words . . . by the Viking grandchildren she chases . . . the joy . . . the miracle of her -- and them -- in the world . . .
because I had a choice in her.
And women march . . . not for what's real . . . but in righteous anger for fear of losing that choice. I should pray God forgive them for they know not what they do . . . but my own righteous anger flares because I don't really believe that. My human grace doesn't match God's . . . and maybe it shouldn't . . . maybe that's not my job here. So here is what I want to tell them:
March for what's real. March for equality. March for equal pay. March for family or freedom or better child care options. March for respect . . . for common sense . . . for choices that honor and protect all human life. March for open borders or stronger walls or healthcare that works. Save the rainforests. Save the whales. Save the dogs and cats to the melancholy beseeching of Sarah McLachlan . . . Shout til your hoarse and you're heard. Or fight in your own quiet way . . . On paper or on your knees in prayer.
But don't fight for your right to kill unborn children.
To mature, discerning, educated minds, there are very few issues that don't have shades of gray complexities. This is not one of those issues.
For God's sake . . . For all that is decent and holy . . . Stop demanding . . . Stop celebrating . . . Your right to kill unborn babies. They are not a mass of cells. They have beating hearts and functioning brains with nerves that feel the pain of the needle . . . The knife . . . The machines . . . They hear voices from within the womb . . . And recognize and respond to their mother's . . . their father's . . . their big sister's and brother's . . the family dog's bark . . . after they are born. They turn to the light . . . And recoil from harsh sounds or pressure or pain. They move and roll beneath our seeking palms. They get hiccups. They are calmed and soothed by the same music played for them before they are born . . . and after. We can see them in us in ultrasound pictures They suck their thumbs and wiggle their toes . . . they are the same thumbs and toes before and after.
A hundred years ago . . . Or fifty . . . Or even a few decades ago, we didn't know a fraction of what we know now about how a baby develops. Now we have the technology to look into the womb months before they are born and study facial features to determine who they look like . . . To understand unequivocally that there's an actual person tucked safely within protective layers of maternal flesh and membrane . . . a separate and equal human being. It should bring a sense of shame to all complicit that we've actually been killing babies increasingly indiscriminately and in increasing numbers since Roe vs. Wade . . . Just because we can. . . Because someone told us we had a choice. Instead of feeling shame, though, we choose to ignore what we know -- yes, we know we're killing babies . . . It's long past the point of rational, reasonable argument -- we just call it something else . . . argue from a different podium. It's a woman's body. It's a woman's choice. Oppression. Injustice. Unfair! Inconvenient! Not "viable"
No, it's not. It's a baby. A child. A person. I know it. You know it. We all know it.
February 1, 2017 . . .
And then came you who stopped the world to make us forget for a little while . . . to celebrate a single moment in time when we dared to imagine that a single soul might change everything.