Another, again, anew
I knew we were meant to have daughters. Then God gave us a boy, and another, and another.
When we were dating, then engaged, then married, I used to catch a glimpse of him and think—God, please send us daughters. Because I had never met a man like him, so strong and gentle all at once, so humble and quietly confident, so genuinely kind and caring.
I watched how he treated his mother, his sister, his friends, and me. And I knew—with all the women who suffer father wounds, who never learn that they deserve to be treated with respect by every single man they meet—that we were meant to have daughters. That he would be so good to them. That he would leave such a legacy of love to build them up for a world driven to diminish their worth.
Then God gave us a boy.
And another. And another.
Then we were going to have two girls—two!—but they went home to God as quickly as they were here.
And then we had another boy. Now we are having another son.
I realized I was wrong about raising daughters. Not wrong that it would have been amazing, but that it had to be the way he would change the world as a parent. Turns out he is exactly the father that these boys need. A man who is loving and tender, who deconstructs everything that is wrong with our culture’s view of men and who builds up everything beautiful about what a father can be. Nothing takes my breath away more than seeing the impact he has on our sons. They will change lives—of the women and the men they meet—because of how he has loved them.
And yes, we are having one more. Our son is due on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th. Nine months to the day before Christmas, when we remember how the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with astonishing news of Jesus’ arrival.
Over the past 20 weeks—half a sick pregnancy spent pondering the prospect of an Annunciation baby—I’ve hearkened back to my art major days. All those medieval and Renaissance paintings of Mary being interrupted by an angelic visitor she is shown in the act of reading.
I used to think this was a symbolic trope, a quaint custom. She was reading the Psalms, art historians assured us, or perhaps Isaiah’s prophecies about a virgin bearing a child. She is part of the story, goes the explanation.
But this pregnancy and this one more boy have opened up a new chapter in my understanding. She is letting go of the story she knew. She is turning the page on what was. She is dropping what came before. She is letting God write something new.
He is already and not-yet, this expected Annunciation baby. But he has already taught me the same. Set down the book you thought you were reading. Turn to a new chapter. This is not the story you knew, or even the version you thought you wanted. This will be ever better.
Behold. I am doing something new.
People’s reactions to this pregnancy run the range of ridiculous. (When someone close to me proclaimed with a smile, “You’re just meant to raise all sons!” and I stared at her and asked, “Did you forget that time I gave birth to two daughters?”—it was then that I realized that I can never expect the world to understand.)
Every day people treat it like a tragedy—to raise all boys. You should see the sad faces they give me, the consoling hugs, the sighs of disappointment. (Nothing turns a pregnant mother into a mama bear of fierce protection faster than that pity face, I promise you.)
Of all the tragedies in my life, I will never count that as one. I get to spend my life with the best man I have ever known, and I get to build a life raising five more. What greater gift could I have been given? What greater gift could I dream to give back?
What better story could I help to write, from a book I never expected?
Originally posted at Fanucci's blog