Except for Shawn

You know how people obsess over their first born? They take photos everyday of all the wonderful and cute things the first born does? They are extremely cautious and protective.

Have you seen those parents with more than two kids? That third child or in my case fourth child apparently didn’t exist until he was two. We had pictures from the day of birth and then nothing until his second birthday. It’s as though there was a moratorium on photographs during that time.

It all started when the kids and I were looking through old photographs. Remember when we took rolls film into the store to get them developed? As we looked and reminisced Shawn kept asking, “where are my baby pictures?” “Where are my baby shower pictures?” “Where are the pictures of you pregnant with me?”

How do you tell that baby you opted out of a shower? I had two baby showers or more with each baby, except for Shawn. There is only 15 months and a few a days between he and Josiah. How do you say, I was tired? I was too practical? It was a mistake? Friends and family offered to host a shower for me but I said no. The only thing I wanted and needed was a double stroller. I met with one friend and one family member at a restaurant where they presented me with the stroller. This definitely predates selfies. I’m not sure if we asked a waiter to take our picture.

Then one day a few years ago I put out an APB, I turned on the bat signal, I called, sent text messages asking friends and family to scour their photos to see if there were any pictures of Shawn. A few were located. I was relieved. I showed him the few that were sent to me. He have me that smile he gives when he’s excited but doesn’t want to show it.

I have lots of except for Shawn scenarios. All of the kids were vegetarian for the first 18 months except for Shawn. He was eating meat at six months. Everybody slept in their own beds as babies except for Shawn. I was exhausted so he slept with me to keep me from getting up in the middle of the night to feed him.

He’s not scarred for life over the exceptions. At least I don’t think he is. We have more than made up for the lack of pictures. Now it’s Josiah (third born) who I struggle to find photos of on my phone. He doesn’t seem care though.

Shawn at birth.

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Mary did you know?

One of my favorite songs of the season is Mary did you know. I wonder what were some of the things Mary thought when Jesus was suckling and looking at her with a sweet smile.
Not every mother knows she will carry a baby that will change the world as an adult. Klara Hitler didn’t know. I’m sure she never dreamed of the tragedies that would occur at the hands of her baby boy. When she first felt him move and when she prayed he would not die in childhood as some of his siblings did, I’m sure she didn’t know.
When we as parents hold our breaths and wait for the first cry. When we smile broadly at the first steps. When we celebrate the milestones of childhood. When we shower our offspring with words of encouragement and rebuke, kisses and hugs, I’m sure we don’t know. We hope they will become productive citizens of society. We pray they will live a life that is reflective of our love. But, we don’t know.
My heart is heavy for the mother’s and father’s whose children don’t live a life that reflects the love they were given. I’m sure they didn’t know their children would grow up to kill a room full of children or a theater full of people or an airplane full of passengers. I’m sure they didn’t know.
At the same time that I grieve, I rejoice. I rejoice that Ruth Patton encouraged her son and that Barbara Bush supported her children and that Alberta King put a dream in her son’s heart early on. But I’m sure they didn’t know when they carried those babies they would grow into world changers.
Mary may have known some of the story but she didn’t know the entire story. As she watched her son grow into a man, I’m sure she didn’t know how his life would end and that his story and her story would be told and sung throughout the world.
Mary did you know?