Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Love and Puke

It's official. My daughter is the world's heaviest sleeper.

Last night, I awoke to a horrible retching sound and found Babygirl lying on her back, in bed, puking up bucketfuls. I was terrified that she might choke, but she never even woke up. She just continued sleeping. Even when I roused her, she barely opened her eyes, and she was still half asleep when I put her in the bath.

Of course, while she was soundly in bed within seconds of her bath, I couldn't sleep the rest of the night. Between cleaning sheets, floors, tubs, toilets, sinks and a general insomnia, I've had hardly forty winks since yesterday.

I suppose I got two lessons out of this. The most obvious one is that mom is always the one who deals with dirty stuff in the middle of the night. The other lesson took me a bit more time to figure out.

There was vomit in Babygirl's hair, on her face, all over her body. She was swimming in it, completely oblivious, and unable to help herself. Although I tried to be as gentle as possible and to keep her comfortable, she looked so pathétique shivering in in the bathtub, vomit swirling around her feet and encrusting her small body. My heart was moved with pity for her as I bathed her tiny shoulders and washed the puke out of her hair.

It seems obvious that one would feel compassionate toward a sick child. The truth, though, is that she stank so much I thought I would be sick, too. Every muscle in my body wanted to run away and leave her in the tub! (How is that for a maternal instinct?) It's only love that made me stay.

So I've kind of taken the long way around to my point, but here it is. Lately, I've seen a lot of young girls (and boys, for that matter) in church, on the streets, in the media, etc. who are metaphorically covered in puke. They've made some really bad choices and have been met by one of two responses. Either, society (in the name of love) castigates them until they can adhere to a certain standard of acceptability. Or it views them (in the name of love) with a lack of involvement that kindly casts no judgment at all, but this kindness leaves them to follow a path of self-destruction.

Real love, I think, is somewhere in the middle. Indulge me for a moment if I compare love to a stray dog. Would Love see a stray and leave him outside the door until it could clean itself up? No, that would be harsh. Would Love drown a stray to get rid of its ticks? Of course not, that would be unreasonable. But neither would Love adopt a stray and leave it with all its fleas and bad habits. That would be foolish and ultimately untenable. So it saddens me to see young people who are being destroyed by these two extreme responses. There are the well-intentioned who nitpick at and punish young people until they drown in criticism, and there are the well-intentioned who don't want young people to "feel bad" so they approve of everything. But nobody is doing these kids any favors. The critic loves his own opinion. The "tolerant" person loves creating a persona of benevolence. Nobody is truly loving these kids.

Anyway, Babygirl just woke up, and I see I missed some icky spots in the dim lighting last night. So we're off for another bath, but I leave you with these words from C.S. Lewis who always says everything a hundred times better than I could ever hope to.
Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love. When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking? Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal... Of all powers, he forgives most, but he condones least: he is pleased with little, but demands all. 
from the Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis


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