Wednesday, April 22, 2009

her share and my seat

it's a question of where to sit.

for the past three years, i have joined an amazing group of women on wednesday mornings to study scripture. we meet in one friend's livingroom, seated in a group comprising two couches facing each other and an assortment of chairs completing the circle. we are women from all walks of life: grandmothers and new mothers, singles and wives, experienced moms of school-aged kids and moms with miles to go before we sleep. did i mention it is an amazing group?

three years ago, we were barely a handful. as we dug into scripture together, we dug into each other's lives. and though we can rarely sort out each other's problems--other than to redirect each other to the One Who Can--as women, we can certainly sort ourselves. that is, we've always known where to sit.

even when we were a group of just eight--and especially now that we're a group of more like twenty--we brought along a lot of kids. all in varying stages of independence. the ones who are old enough to be away from mom but not yet school-aged spend their time upstairs with two wonderful, amazing (so thankful for them!) babysitters; but there are always among us those children in varying stages of not-yet-independence.

for whose mothers are reserved the seats on the couch.

of course, a pregnant mom certainly deserves the cushiest seat in the house. and a nursing mom needs the throw pillows to prop up her arms and baby's head. a mom of a snoozing baby needs a comfortable place to be still and still and still so as not to disturb the all-important nap.

it's always been an unwritten rule that seats on the couches are reserved for those moms. and for almost three years, a coveted corner of one couch--throw pillows and arm and all--was reserved for me. in fact, as our study started up this fall, i often benefitted from part of the center square of that couch, too. because i had a baby--a growing baby who took up more than her fair share of space--for almost three years.

more than her fair share of space.

when our study resumed after the christmas break this year, i showed up that first week not knowing where to sit. an amazing number of babies and about-to-be babies were now part of our group, and all needed their seats on the couch. and i didn't. so i moved to a chair, where i now regularly sit between two vibrant, fun, intelligent "grown-up" mothers of adult children and grandmothers of grandchildren, women i so respect and admire and hope i'll resemble someday.

but women whose life stage is so not the same as mine.

because that more-than-her-fair-share of space that eliza consumed is empty now.

which is not to say that i don't think often about whether and when i'll sit on the couch again. i won't fill her space, a space whose emptiness literally aches. but is there another space? part of me is content in the chair, luke happily at school and no longer in need of the nursery care upstairs, my arms free to hold my bible and my study book and even a drink or a piece of homemade bread made by my grown-up friend sitting next to me. my back doesn't ache (because no matter how many throw pillows, two hours of holding a forty-pound "baby" takes its toll). i'm not spit upon, diaper-leaked-upon, weighed upon.

an empty space is a lonely space. i don't--will never--begrudge eliza the more-than-her-fair-share-of-space she consumed in my life, nor will those women begrudge her the space she consumed in our group or on that couch, i know. but how will i ever move back to that couch while maintaining that big empty space?

because i want that space. empty.

1 comment:

krista said...

i don't think that space can ever be filled, no matter how many more little jacksons you add to your family. eliza will always have her space in your heart.