"love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup."
danny's song - anne murray
For some reason, being a child in a big family prompts unusual family-planning questions. As a little girl I was frequently asked "Do you like being in a big family?" Well. I liked being in my family. And it was big! So, yes! I did like being in a big family. "Do you want to have a big family someday?" "Yes, I would!" (I wish I would have responded with "Do you like being in a small family? Do you want to have a small family someday?" but I never did.) Sometimes people remarked that I might change my mind when I got older, or that they just wouldn't be cut out for that. But over the last decade as I've heard and answered that question, the most common response has been: "You must love children, huh?" I was always a little confused by that question ("You mean, there are people who don't love children?") but I always answered my third "yes" of the dialogue. [I have more to say about this paragraph, but that's not for right now.]
As I've gotten older, I've spent more time studying, researching and thinking about children than any other topic. Whether it be scripture, TIME magazines, internet forums, conversations with friends (or strangers), various books or my own thoughts - I've had plenty to mull over. I've watched adults interact with children in public and private settings. I've watched their reactions to an annoying or angry child. I've watched their responses to a pretty and "good" child. My little radars shoot up when children are around. I watch closely - the children themselves, and the people around them.
In all this time, I'm not sure if I've encountered a better sentence about my heart towards children, said by the author of Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown: “I don't think I'm essentially interested in children's books. I'm interested in writing, and in pictures. I'm interested in people and in children because they are people.”
In my house, and therefore in my world, children were people. I don't mean that anyone thinks infants and toddlers are dogs, or matter, or subhumans. I know we all "know" they are people, but, even subconsciously, many put them in a different category. "Children are so difficult!" "Children are so funny!" "Children are a lot of work!" "Children are expensive!" Well, yes. But people are difficult, and funny, and work, and expensive. Some people I enjoy very much, others kind of get on my nerves - that includes newborns to the very elderly. But no matter what they're like, or much effort it takes, I, with all my heart, believe that everyone should love children. Because I believe that everyone should love people.
Obviously there are a variety of personalities and "strengths" that sometimes do better with different kinds of people ;) I honestly am not the best with kids. I love being around them, but I think my kid-skills were so much stronger when I was 17 and 18. Part of how I know this is because of my little sisters. Shannon and Lauren are nine and eleven years old and could probably care for a 6-month old completely on their own for 24 hours. And they have lived a life without infant siblings. They are so good with little people.
For two days we've watched a girl named Autumn. It's been fascinating to see my family made up of elementary school children, pre-teens, college students and 50-somethings, transform for this little person. Everyone wants a turn to hold her, to feed her, to dress her, to play with her. Even the boys. I don't think she's been put down since she's arrived. We all squeal at her funny faces, re-tell stories about "what Autumn did today," work hard to keep her safe and happy. She has brought joy to our home - and mess, and noise, and smells, and "work," I guess. But, who cares about that?! She's an incredible person. And she has made our daily life sweeter and better.
She's helped me love my sisters more - they honestly are capable beyond their years. She's helped me love my brothers more - they have such a doofy soft side that she brought out. She's helped me love my parents more - mom always knows what to do with her! She's so experienced and gentle. Dad is so funny with his "baby voices" and quirky insights. "She is 98% eye-ball. This isn't a baby, it's a life support system for two eyes!" She's helped me love my husband more - he was so patient when she cried at 3:00 am last night, and so sweet as he got ready for work as quiet as possible so she wouldn't wake up.
You are loved, little A! Come back and visit us soon. You're one of our favorite people!
Her Happy Food Dance ;)
She was trying to "share" her sweet potatoes with Kevin. Kind soul ;)