Poetry & Words

What People Don’t Understand About Having an Only Child

What People Don't Understand About Having an Only Child

Five years ago.  I don’t wish time to stop, because if time had stopped then I wouldn’t have today in all its glorious tumbling mix of beauty and brokenness.

No, I never wish time to stop.

This photo from the past is a femtosecond suspended in space — a single transient moment in time’s flight over us.

We’re in my favorite place on earth, high above the sea overlooking Bodega Bay, and the white-bright sunset is casting slivers of diamonds over us, by the handful. My pants don’t match my shirt, and I’m wearing my brother-in-law’s too-big shoes. She’s set to bolt away and grab fistfuls of sand. The sky is molten. We are hands on a clock, dials on the face of the sun.

And time flies on.

The shadows go round, and round, and round. She’s so little here, my third-grader, and my heart sometimes feels like it will split right down the middle.

See, she’s a miracle, you know, I miracle God granted in defiance of what time’s overly-speedy hands had begun to do to my physical body. And she’s light. Can’t you see it here, the light? True to her name, she’s Alenka, the radiance. When she was born, the nurse learned over the bed and asked, in a voice breaking under the weight of meaning, “What have you come to teach us?”

Strangers, won’t you step down and lift your head and open your eyes? Won’t you see beyond the narrow explanation you’ve created in your own mind?

You ask me why I had no more; I reply: no more arrived.

You ask so often. Do you realize how often you ask?

You never see the sorrow in my reply.

You ask at the line in the grocery store.

You ask at the library.

You ask at homeschool groups. (Oh, especially at homeschool groups.)

We’re dependent on God for so much. The thin tissue of our lungs fills and empties, fills and empties, fills and empties. We breath in oxygen; our organs are fed. We do not owe the function of these inner workings to our own righteousness. Our heartbeats, our respirations, the skin that covers these shells — gifts from the Maker, all.

Don’t count and measure and compare.

We aren’t given equal portions in this life, but we are given enough. We are given our portion. It is my sorrow that my arms cannot hold more; yet it is my joy they can hold the unspeakable gift I’ve been given.

Can you look at this life as liquid gold, with me? As chrysolite and as chalcedony? [1] We all walk sacred ground; there are no ordinary places. [2] We are souls inhabiting bodies; we are magic of the celestial kind.

Look to the Light, my friends, look to the Light and rejoice.

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Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Yes, she is my only one

Yes, she's my only one -  A Post on the Oaxacaborn blog

As much as I share here in this public space, there’s much, much more I don’t talk about.

For a long time, Aveline was young enough that I didn’t have to talk about it. For a long time, her age served as some sort of barrier to postpone the questions and contain the curiosity. But as Aveline has gotten older, peoples’ curiosity is stretched thinner and thinner and thinner. The manners are starting to fade, and the collective curiosity is like a wall of water behind a crumbling dam.

On any given day there are fewer and fewer people left who consider the when? and the why? behind her sibling-less status as private information.

I have an only child.

I’m homeschooling an only child.

And I’ve never been more acutely aware of the stigma in those sentences, or how many sets of neatly-boxed little assumptions exist about this fact.

I’m not here to defend anything.

I’m not here to explain a choice. My redemption lies in my Jesus, not in the number of people in my family.

Instead, I’m here to gently remind you that before you judge someone’s choice, remember that we humans don’t even always hold the power of a choice.

I’m here to remind the curious questioners that in almost every situation under the sun, there’s more.  More beneath the surface. More desperate clinging to hope where you think there’s just indifferent apathy. There’s more to a family than the sum of their numbers. There may be sorrow behind the smile. There may be silent prayers that go unseen. There’s always more to the story than you’ve heard.

What you don’t know, is that my daughter Aveline Alenka was a miracle. Her name, Aveline, from the old Irish Aibhilin, isn’t just a name. It means —

l o n g e d   f o r
w i s h e d   f o r
l o n g – a w a i t e d   c h i l d 

— and every ounce of that is true.

She is a miracle. She is, like her Slovene middle name Alenka, “a radiant light”.

Yes, she's my only one -  A Post on the Oaxacaborn blog

See, what you don’t know, is that when I was in my early twenties, my hormones were operating at a menopausal level. What you don’t know, is that I was looked right in the eye and told my body was the functional equivalent of a sixty-year-old woman.

You don’t know this, because I don’t talk about this.

When my long-awaited child was born, it was four weeks before I could cross the room without holding onto the walls.

You don’t know this, because I don’t talk about this.

When she was six weeks old, I was back in the emergency room, with a group of doctors huddled around me while she was asleep on my chest and I was in agony.

You don’t know this, because I don’t talk about this.

When she was two years old, I was sitting in a specialist’s office discussing the ongoing pain from nerve damage.

You don’t know this, because I don’t talk about this.

I’m not telling you now because it’s an easy or a comfortable thing to talk about (it’s not).  I don’t tell you this because I think I am particularly tragic, or unusual (it’s not), or because I think my story is deserving of either pity or applause (it isn’t).  And I’m certainly not writing this because I think it’s good blog fodder (it definitely isn’t).

I’m not even sharing this now because of me.

I’m sharing this because there’s more to all of our stories. There’s more to what we say and what we do and who we are. There’s more to all of us than what is visible to supermarket strangers and inquisitive acquaintances.

I’m not writing this about me. I’m really not even writing this about only children.

I’m writing this for every single person God has ever created, from every walk of life and every nation and every socioeconomic status. I’m writing this for every single person you come into contact with.

I’m writing this because of one truth, one constant, one vitally important principle: everyone has a story. Sometimes that story is silent, and sometimes it’s spoken. Sometimes you can see a peek of it, and sometimes it’s all hidden. But there’s one thing that never changes…

…there’s always more to the story than you can see.

Yes, she's my only one -  A Post on the Oaxacaborn blog

The world is full of love that goes unspoken. It doesn’t mean that it is felt less deeply or that separation leaves a cleaner wound. Its beauty…and its pain are in its silence. Some of us are not blessed with revelations or confessions. Love cannot be spoken, only shown.” -Call the Midwife