Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kate Miller 42: The Baby "Reception"

Parental advice No. 1: Don't let them eat it if it is moving! (from Mrs. T, hostess of the "Baby Reception") 

42. The Baby “Reception” (July 2013)
            Almost a week after their arrival Kate and Mister went to the Wills’ church—the same church where they had married not quite four years previously. Even though it had been almost ten years since Kate had lived at home and attended regularly, many families still knew her well and were delighted to see her and Mister when they walked in the door. There were all the usual exclamations and questions relating to pregnancy, health, comfort, etc…and then the inevitable exclamation: “You have to have a baby shower while you’re here!”
            “I do?” Kate replied, not averse to the suggestion, but taken aback by the force of it.
            “Well, yes! Think of all the people that want to be able to celebrate with you!”
            Kate thought of them. It could be fun. But it was, by no means, essential to life and happiness and pregnancy. One thing was certain, she was not going to put any effort into planning such an event or asking her mother (who was not too keen on parties or mass gatherings of any sort) to do so for her.
            The next day, Kate discovered her mother on the phone.
            “I don’t understand what the issue is…” she was saying. “…So why would it have to be a church baby shower?... No, we’re not going to plan an open house at the church!”
            Kate had to laugh. An open house at church was a far cry from an intimate party at someone’s house. Not only would she not plan one, she wasn’t sure she would want to commit even if someone else did! When Laurie got off the phone, she sighed and turned to Kate.
            “Apparently,” she said, “you can’t have a baby shower.”
            “What does that mean?” Kate said, confused.
            “Well, I guess they don’t want to set a precedent for church-organized baby showers for old members or relatives of members…trying to avoid hurt feelings, I guess.”
            “Someone will get hurt feelings if someone throws me a baby shower?” Kate asked.
            “I don’t know,” Laurie shook her head. “I guess they just have this policy…”
            “Well, don’t worry about it. If it’s an issue, then I don’t want anything. And I certainly don’t want to start a fuss or hurt anyone’s feelings—however strange the cause might be.”
            But the subject of baby showers would not die easily. A couple days later, when Kate was walking with Mrs. T, they talked the subject over. Mrs. T, with her eminently practical mind, bombarded Kate with a series of questions.
            “Now,” she said, “the question is: would you like any kind of party?”
            “Well, sure,” Kate replied, “but…”
            “No buts,” she interrupted, “it’s a straightforward question. Now, what kind of party?”
            Kate had to think about this. It was true that she didn’t want the standard baby shower fare. But what did she want? “Well,” she said at last, “I think I would just like some time with the ladies that know me well, have some snacks, and sit around hearing their stories—the funny ones and the inspiring ones and learn about their early parenting experiences.”
            “Okay!” Mrs. T said with enthusiasm. “That’s something to work with! We’ll do it! We’ll have it at my house. Let’s pick a date.” And with an imperial wave of her arm, Mrs. T swept away semantics and church politics and potential hurt feelings, and created, Kate felt with almost physical forcefulness, a Baby Reception for Kate Miller.
            The reception was a fabulous success. Not a lot of people, but just the right amount, in Kate’s estimation. They were all able to fit in a circle in Mrs. T’s living room, and there was certainly no shortage of interesting stories and advice. One lady told how she and her husband were building their house when they had their daughter, and she spent the first four (or was it six?) years without running water. Kate listened, mesmerized. They all took turns telling wild, improbable tales, laughing after-the-fact at hair-raising adventures, and advising Kate, not to avoid collecting her own series of stories, but to not worry in the midst of them.
            “God is the one who keeps them safe;” one mother said, “it’s a mysterious thing how he gives us such responsibility, and no real power. But we trust in Him, and He strengthens us.”
            All the mothers nodded. 
            Kate felt this deep truth even in pregnancy. These mothers were true pioneers. They struck out on the adventure, humbly and joyfully, with a great task ahead of them and nothing but trust and hope to lead them on. And Kate would join them. But, she wondered, would she be able to do it joyfully? 

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