Friday, May 27, 2011

Julia's Dad, My Husband

May is full of anniveraries for us, some not-so-happy, some joyous. Today is the five year anniversary of my marriage to the most remarkable man I know, Julia's dad. My ring fits a little more snugly than it did five years ago...but then again, so do we.
Like all couples, we fight and disagree, but talking through these things has really helped us get to know one another, and to work as a team in raising Julia. Sure, we have less time together (alone) now that she's here, but being with the two of them every night, with Julia hanging out in her Daddy's lap, is an absolute joy.
In five years, we've been through a lot and learned a lot. Thankfully, we've grown together. He has taught me to stick up for myself, to speak my mind more than I did. He has not only respected my work, but pushed me to do more, achieve more. Most importantly, he has taught me that I deserve love, that I am beautiful as I am, inclusive of my flaws and foibles.
And what does this all have to do with our beautiful little girl? Well, I think a lot. First of all, I'd like her to read this someday and see how much I value our marriage, our partnership. I'd love for her to find a partner some day who will respect and love her just as much, and I want her to know that she 100%, absolutely, no matter what, deserves all of the love in the world, and that she's beautiful, not despite her imperfections but, as Gerald Manly Hopkins writes in "Pied Beauty," because of them:

GLORY be to God for dappled things—

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;

And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Who would say that a "brinded cow" is beautiful? And yet, none of their spots, or the markings on trout, or even the tiny finches' wings, are ever the same. I hope that all of you reading this, my dear friends and family, realize that you are beautiful and loved because you are "original," some may even say "strange," and (if you're like me!), "freckled." And I hope you all have or had a partner who can show you, day in and day out, that this is the case. I want Julia to know how remarkable her father is, so here's to many more years of marriage and parenthood, many more years of discovery and exploration, many more years of unconditional, perfect love.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Julia--her baptism and her namesake

I have a lot on my mind today.  As I sit outside in my rocking chair, with Julia sitting and snoozing in her miniature rocking chair next to me, I think about God and his plan for our lives.  A year ago today, I found out that I was pregnant with Julia; it was also the anniversary of my father Julius's death.
For a long time, I've wanted to name a child after my father, and I think Julia was meant to be.  In her, especially when she sleeps, I can sometimes see little behaviorisms that remind me of my dad.  Today is the tenth anniversary of my father's passing, but sometimes I feel that he glances back.  I felt that strongly when I ran the San Francisco Nike Women's marathon, and I felt it even more at Julia's baptism.  I just knew that my dad was looking on, smiling.  I know that he would have adored Julia and am really sad that they never met, but I felt his spirit there, in that church, along with all of the other saints and, of course, the Holy Spirit.
Julia's baptism was absolutely amazing.  I know that sometimes, people look at sacraments and see them as symbolic or, even worse, ostentatious, but I think that Julia felt the import of this event.  As usual, she slept through the readings (she's gotten quite the reputation!), but she woke up when it came time for the actual baptism.  She started lifting her little arm up as we got closer to the actual baptism; by the time father Peet held her, she had both of her arms held out, as if to greet her buddy the Holy Spirit:
And when Peet made the sign of the cross with the oil and sealed her as Christ's own, she broke into a glorious smile.  Sure, it could all be coincidental, but I believe this child felt God's presence, and my father's presence, in that space, that time.  I can't explain things in any other way.
I was also incredibly grateful that my amazing friend Cindy was able to come all the way from New Jersey and be one of Julia's godmothers.  Cindy had met my father--she's one of my really long-time friends.  Another "coincidence" is that her birthday is also the day of my father's death (happy birthday, Cin!).  She is like my sister and has always been there when I needed someone, or just needed a laugh.  So it was wonderful that Julia immediately fell in love with her Godmother:
Julia doesn't do that all-body smile for just anyone!  I know in my heart that Cindy will be such an important, integral part of Julia's life.  One of her Godfathers, Greg, couldn't make it this weekend, but he will also come visit, and I know that his presence in our lives will also be a blessing.
Finally, Julia acquired an entire second family in my friends Eliza, Mark, and their daughter Beatrice.  I haven't known Eliza and Mark as long as Cindy, but they were the ones who introduced me to the Episcopal Church, and they have become like family to us.  So it was natural that I would also name Eliza and Mark as Godparents; after all, we have been through so much together, from our wacky trip to Charleston years ago, to our bonding when Eliza had to be a baseball widow, to my bouts with anxiety, to the tragic death of their first-born child.  When Bertie was finally born, I believed strongly that she was a gift from God- not a replacement of any sort, but a blessing.  She has turned out to be such a special child, so gifted with empathy, kindness, and a strong spirit.  She calls Julia her sister, and I do believe they are meant to be Godsisters (Bertie is my Godchild!).  So it seemed right that this family also shared in this special moment with us:

I could go on and on--and I'm already in tears--but I just want to say one last thing about family.  While my Hungarian family, including my mom, couldn't come, I know they were thinking of us, and Julia wore a beautiful cross that she received from my mother.  Ben's family did come, and their presence meant so much to me.  His mother made Julia's baptismal gown, his brother recorded the video for my Hungarian family, and my sister-in-law took all of these pictures you're looking at!  It was right that Julia's introduction to the household of God should happen amidst all of these people who downright adore her.
So as I sit here mourning the loss of my father, mourning (to an extent) the fact that my perfect little girl has Down Syndrome, I can't help but think about the beautiful weather outside, the light breeze that grazes Julia's cheek as she sleeps, the slight smile on her face right now as she dreams about God knows what.  Maybe about her baptism.  All I know is that, if there is a season to every thing, this is a season of renewal, a season of rebirth, and I know my dad is smiling down on us, proud and touched by his little namesake.