A babe in the house is a wellspring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men. Martin Fraquhar TupperWe have a three month old infant in the house. She is a tiny creature. Ten perfect fingers. Ten perfect toes. She gurgles and burbs, laughs and smiles. Her blue eyes are constantly watching, her fingers continually grasping at the air in front of her face. She is an angel.
C.C.'s niece and husband, along with their 3-year old and infant daughter arrived yesterday amidst piles of luggage. I'd forgotten what it was like to travel with children. The need to cart, strollers and travelling beds and bags of toys and books and clothing and various sundry items like formula and bottles and sterilizers and everything else imaginable... just in case.
Travelling with a child is a lesson in preparedness. Just in case.... we can't do laundry. The airline loses a bag. The flight's late, rescheduled, cancelled. Just in case, the baby gets sick, the 3 year old throws up, or throws a tantrum or throws away the baby with the bathwater. Mothers, and fathers are champions of the Just in Case suitcase of the travelling necessities.
Last night, two more of C.C.s nieces arrived with children in tow as well as husbands and a grandmother, C.C.s sister, along with her granddaughter by an absent daughter. One niece also has a baby, five months old, and without a doubt, one of the most perfect 'Gerber' baby models I've ever seen. He laughed and chortled and hammered his fists in the air, arcing his back as he gleefully expressed his wonder of the world.
Amidst the chaos of kids running up and down the stairs, out the back door, asking for a glass of juice, a cracker, a bandaid, a hand up, Marley escaping and everyone going on a hunt, of one of the nieces husbands doing a photo shoot in the back yard, and babies crying for food, we managed to create a memorable feast.
It is the first time we have entertained any of C.C.s extended family.
It was a blast.
The noise level was constant, the chaos consuming. I hobbled around on my crutches or sat on a chair with my foot up -- somewhat frustrated that I could not do more, but happy to let C.C. deal with what needed to be done to get the dinner on the table. And he did! And it was delightful.
Throughout the evening, the women spoke of babies and childbirth of the beauty of children and the fear of having more, or not having more, of what if the next one cries all night, or doesn't have all fingers and toes. Of doctors and baby ailments, of schooling and child rearing. The men breezed in and out of the room, chatting with each other in the backyard as C.C. hooked up the barbecue or, they simply steered the kids from one adventure to the next, setting up Wii, dismantling a fort, finding some diversion to avert a potential misadventure of the sibling kind.
It was an evening of family, of conviviality, of closeness, of life unfolding.
And amidst it all, the little angel sat in her rocking 'bucket', watching the world around her, watching her family unfold in all its loving support. She is too little to know what it all means, yet in its meaning is the truth that this is life -- bold, brass, noisy, chaotic.
This is the meaning of family. Shared times, and interrupted conversations, ten people speaking at once, of children falling, and running in and out, into each other, and around and around. Oof laughter and teasing and understanding and shared history and memories that link each generation to the next. This is the meaning of love.