Monday, April 3, 2006

Life From The Step Down Lounge

At a post-conference family dinner yesterday my almost three-year-old niece Stella, announced that she would be sleeping over at our house. When CK and I got up to leave, she found her shoes, pjs and blankie.

Andrew asked her if she had invited herself.

"Yes." She confidently responded.

We started out the door with Stella, and a load of diapers when Moe, the five-year-old sister, started to cry and proclaim the unfairness of the situation.

Two minutes later we had Stella, Moe, diapers, blankies, pjs, toy blocks and Finding Nemo stuffed into the back seat of our car. As we drove home they requested that our evening included trying on all my shades of lipstick and making Christopher, the perennial favorite uncle, chase them around the house as they screamed in peril.

    A day earlier I had been fascinated by Ardeth Kapp's story of how she and her husband had come to know that they were not to be blessed with children in this life. I am sure this personal revelation was heart breaking. I couldn't stop thinking about it though. A strong witness told them of their destiny regarding their family. After they knew they dedicated their lives to service.

    Over and over again I have heard family stories in the same light. Couples knew when they should adopt. Knew who they needed to see in order to heal and conceive. Some couples, like the Kapps, knew to put faith in a future family. I want to know. I think I know. But how do I know when I know?

    I was discussing this with my family over dinner. My dad was so positive.

    "...and look," he said of Ardeth, "she went on to write lots of church songs!"

      When we got the girls home with us we made a sprawling bed on the floor of our step down lounge (CK calls it that, I don't.) We tried on all the lipsticks and decided blood red was by far the most fabulous. Perfect for almost any occasion!

      CK was too tired to do all the running around, but he did lie on the couch and was perfectly still as a patient in our hospital. Moe determined that he had spiders all over him (in his ears, on his neck, touching his toes) it was up to us to cure him of his Arachnigitis. (Deadly stuff.)

      After we had successfully cured our sleepy patient, we watched Finding Nemo. Moe was asleep before Nemo was caught by that gross dentist. Stella stayed awake and flopped like a fish between Christopher and me. In her effort to get comfortable, she would alternate putting her head on CK's chest and her feet in my face or pushing the back of her head against my chin with her knees burrowed into CK's ribs.

      Stella insisted on sleeping in our bed. CK carried her in and we left Moe fast asleep covered in layers of blankets. Stella would twist her body back and forth and breath loudly. If I moved she was sure to follow. She wanted to cuddle close. The traces of lipstick left on her face marked on the sheets where she had rotated.

      Moments after Stella' s body calmed down, we heard Moe crying, dramatically, from the front room. CK picked her up, carried her in, and placed her next to me. I was sandwiched, there was no breathing room. CK was relegated to the bed in the lounge.

      Moe cried for a good hour before she asked to go home. It was almost 2am. Christopher wrapped her in a wool blanket and drove across town, back home with her mom and dad. Mostly she missed her older sister Drew, with whom she was delighted to see cry earlier when Drew couldn't sleep over because of first grade.

      I didn't sleep until my husband was home. Eventually we collapsed in the step down lounge next to a space heater. All night long I didn't sleep. I had crazy dreams. I'd wake up and think,

      It's ok. We won't have children. I will be fine.

      We would startle awake when Stella would whimper from the bedroom.

      If we don't have kids, I will never be sleep deprived. I'd reason, though my logic was induced by fatigue.

      Perhaps it's better for us not to have...

      The morning came too early. Somehow, I had made it back to my own bed at some point during the night. Stella was looking at me smiling, the lipstick looking more like a juice mustache.

      "Where's Chrippiper?"

      She jumped off the bed. I could hear her pj booties scraping the wood floor as she went from room to room, whispering "Chrippiper!"

      I fell back asleep.

      When the garbage truck came I awoke again. I could hear quiet laughing from the front room. Turning the corner I found Stella in a little nest of pillows next to CK. She had 25 layers of lipstick all over her lips and chin. My husband, though it was early, seemed really happy. She had him smiling and laughing as he tickled her toes ...

      I think I know.