No, we didn’t actually name our baby Ebenezer Dragonsbane. His name is “Jonathan Lee,” and he goes by “Jack” for now. He’s exhausting and adorable and everything a new baby should be when his mom describes him.
A Facebook friend recently asked why parents feel the need to refer to themselves in the third person, and I now have an answer. It’s because we’re still trying to remind ourselves that, oh yeah, I have a kid and I’m supposed to be the responsible one. For me, a self-proclaimed “not baby person,” this strange feeling of Jack’s constant presence is a little baffling. I can’t help but compulsively check my baby mirror when we’re driving in the car, but I can’t say I’ve stressed about leaving him with family either. But just like in pregnancy, I’m always aware now–if nothing else, by the fact that I finally have cleavage for the first time in my life. Everything changes, everything stays the same.
Jack was born nine months after Mom died, and his beginning will always be tied to that time. The name “Jonathan Lee” speaks to that, actually. One of the meanings is “God has given a healer,” because this baby reminds us that God makes all things new and brings life even as another draws a dying breath. This isn’t to put pressure on Jack’s future role in our family–like a lot of prophecies, there’s a “now” and “not yet” aspect to his name. He’s already brought healing in the short time he’s been here, by giving us light in dark times and things to look forward to. There’s a “not yet” because I have no idea what God’s plans for him are. But I already know he’s been a healing influence in unexpected places–he was just nine days old when we went to Papa’s funeral. My dad has lost the two most important people in his life this year, and yet, here’s Jack. A new grandson to gentle the sea change.
As for me, well, how do you become a mother without constant thinking of your own? Of course there are moments of “Oh wow, she was more of a saint than I realized.” And for me, there are many, many quiet moments in which I wonder what wisdom she would’ve given or when she would’ve just laughed. I never knew my mom except as a daughter–now, I’m keenly aware that I never knew her as a mom, and it’s hard to guess what she would say for that reason.
My friends and I don’t really talk about this except in passing, and usually I make the references. Maybe that’s for the best, since I think I probably am functioning pretty well and those conversations aren’t meant for the group. Nonetheless, I wonder. I wonder if they have any idea that I feel my mom’s absence even more acutely than I did in those first few months. Because before, she hadn’t been part of my everyday life in a long time since I was an independent adult with my own life. But now, every smile Jack gives me is one I wish she could see, one she should’ve seen so frequently since he’s her first grandson. I feed Jack and wonder how in the world she managed to feed twins, and see his weird rash (yay food allergies) and wonder if she’d tell me straight what she thought.
There are still pictures of her all over my house. I look at them and smile, but I can’t look for too long or else I cry. And I guess that’s how it goes, on and on, as each new phase brings a renewed sense of loss even as it brings life. Look, remember aloud, and smile. But sometimes, look harder, remember there are no new memories to be made, and cry.
Welcome to the world, Jack. You are loved. You have so many people who love you, including an amazing Grammy on your dad’s side. We’ll tell you all about your other grandmother when the moments present themselves. You make me go deeper, and remind me that life will never be the same. Even so, life is good.