Thursday, February 19, 2015

Where Did the Baby Go?


This is my beloved book from childhood. I am amazed it has withstood the years and remains intact. The pages are antiqued yellow and the edges worn, because I am ancient.

Time has curled the corners; the leafing by little hands has ripped and creased the pages. Transparent packing tape lines the wounds of the spine like a band-aid.

The pink cover is faded and frayed like a pair of well-loved blue jeans. Exterior corners, which jutted sharp in the 1970s, are now a dignified soft, round, and peeling portrayal of its youth. The under skin of brown cardboard reveals its position as the favorite, the only childhood book that survived forty years.

 I remember lying on my belly as a four-year old, awkwardly positioning a black crayon in my right hand to scrawl the letters of my name on the front and back interior.It is an endearing story of a toddler uncovering an old picture of a blue-eyed baby in a floppy hat. She does not recognize the baby and asks her mama who it could be. Her mama says the baby is someone she used to see every single day.

The story continues with the little girl scampering through the house in her calico printed dress, thick white tights, and black Mary Janes, in an attempt to find the baby that must still live there.

She peers in every room and closet, finally unearthing a floppy hat. Placing the straw hat on her head, she peeks at her reflection in the mirror. Her neurons fire with recollection, sending her dashing full speed, leaping into her mama’s arms shouting, “Here I am!”

My favorite childhood book is now a huge question mark rattling around in my brain. “Where did the baby go?” It seems like yesterday that I was scribbling my name in the book, a near baby myself. And now, where are my babies that used to live here?   In my home.
They stare back at me, with chubby cheeks, wide eyes, and mouths gaping open with wonder and innocence, from the canvases hovering on nails upon my walls, and behind clear glass, bordered with ornate frames.  My babies.

I think about it every day. Where the time has gone.
How it has been eaten away.

Last night I felt it. Time was heavy, as I tried to lift the last babe from my womb, as she lay sleeping.

She is too heavy to lift now.   My arms too weak to bear her weight, I led her sleep walking to her bed.

Just a blink, it seems-- a flutter of my lashes and the rosy-cheeked baby girl with toes twirling and wiggling round and round only exists in home movies and glossy wall art.

She was all chubby knees and elbows back then, coils of golden hair spiraling wreaths on the back of her little head. She toddled on squishy legs, with milk breath, and eyes glimmering the brightest blue of her great-grandmama's.

There are still remnants of that baby girl underneath the golden spun tendrils, below the layers of her eight-year old locks, near her neck are the baby ringlets, still growing in tight spirals until they become long and straighten down her back.

I twist the curls with my fingers, tugging gently down, like stretching a spring, watching it bounce back.How does it happen?  One moment swaying her as a swaddled newborn, inhaling all the smells of baby, and then my eyes flutter open to this girl of grace and strength.

My arms that bathed and rocked. My arms. Now they can not lift her sleeping form.

It is incomprehensible that God transcends all time. He is timeless: "For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Psalm 90:4
As mere mortals, the ticking clock is measured.Time exists for us.The coiling of worry and discontent behind my thoughts is what eats time.

And I can walk dead through life, dry bones.

My thoughts can mutilate the full life. The alive life.

Some days I squeeze the moments and capture them, hold them gently in my heart, like the fragile fluttering wings of a butterfly. For time is fragile.  Just a wisp and it is gone.

May I live with abandon.

Eyes wide open. To really see.

With an awakened soul.

Arms reaching high towards my Savior.

Heart full of delight in His presence and grace.

For it is ALL grace, you know?

No single breath or tick of the clock measured by our performance, but instead measured by His grace upon us. Measured by His perfect life, not by our mess.

Amazingly, that grace spirals down because of the life of a baby. Eternal grace through a babe.

The arms of Jesus open wide, graciously wooing us with His words, "Here I AM!"

In our disappointment, in our grief, in our despair, in our suffering, He tenderly calls "HERE I AM."

Praise Him!


Lynn Riggs Driver said...

This is lovely. I still have my collection of Little Golden Books from the 70's! I smile every time I look at them, and when I look at the printed name inside, I travel back in time. My youngest is now 9 (my oldest is 22!) and the fleetingness of time has been heavy on my heart lately, too, so that now I find myself telling new young mamas to enjoy these days; they won't last. So cliché, right? Yes, it is all grace. :) ~Lynn @ Riggstown Road

Melanie Singleton said...

Yes Lynn! Me too on telling new moms to enjoy. My oldest was sick yesterday and I so wish he were old enough to hug and snuggle!

Meredith Wouters said...

So, so beautiful! I had that book too, as a child, and still do! It's one of my treasured possessions that I've passed on to my kids, but I sort of keep it safe from them too, since it's barely holding together. I too had to carry my littlest from my bed to hers last night so I could go to bed, and was having the same thought. So heavy! So fast. But God is good to give us those moments so we can appreciate them as they happen, and not just look back later, wondering where all the time has gone. Nice to meet you on Mom 2 Mom Monday!