1. Since we’re back in the DC area, I really wanted to take Will to the March for Life this year, especially since it’s been about 10 years since the last time I went. I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to go because it has been brutally cold since we arrived and I didn’t want Will out in single digit temps for hours. The day before the March, I decided I really wanted to go but was nervous about hauling him all the way down to the National Mall by myself on the Metro (a trip requiring a train change at Metro Center), marching from the Mall to the Supreme Court, walking back to the Metro, and taking the Metro home again. I reached out to a few friends I thought might be going but no one was due to various reasons- newborn, out of town funeral, etc. Finally, I sent a Facebook message to an acquaintance, Karen, from grad school at Steubenville and she said she was going and was kind enough to invite me to tag along. She lives in Virginia which meant we were coming from opposite directions so we agreed to meet at the Smithsonian Metro stop near the Mall.
2. All this last minute messaging between Karen and me happened the night before and morning of the March so I was a little bit frazzled trying to pack up everything I needed for Will and hustle him out the door on time. (And I was reminded that if we are blessed with more babies, I really need to get my act together ahead of time if I plan on ever leaving the house.) Will and I hopped on the Metro and took it to Metro Center where we switched trains and rode to Smithsonian.
Will was not overly impressed with public transportation. Pro Tip: Lest you think you are going to try to travel compactly and use your crappy umbrella stroller; no. Take the good stroller. I waffled but ended up taking the BOB and I am so glad. Will was comfy, it’s easy to steer, plenty of storage underneath, and jumping curbs and running through puddles was no problem. Pro Tip #2: If you have a big stroller on public transportation, get in one of the end cars. They have room for bicycles, which means they have room for BOB.
3. We arrived a little bit before Karen did and Will took his only nap of the day.
It lasted for an entire 15 minutes. Then my little extrovert realized he was surrounded by 500,000 people who all love babies and he was like, “HELL yeah! Party time!” Karen, her husband, and her four kiddos arrived, along with Karen’s cousin, her husband, and their six kids. Will, Lover of Big Kids, was in heaven.
4. We made our way over to the March and joined everyone in the street. Even though it’s been a long time since the last time I went to the March, I immediately remembered how much I love the March. Even though the fact that it has to exist is heartbreakingly sad, seeing half a million people who love babies and their moms, and seeing that so many of these people are students and families, is just amazing. It’s beautiful to see priests and religious everywhere, and so, so many of them really young and vibrant.
As we marched towards the Supreme Court, Will got hangry and demanded to be released from the stroller and fed. While a little tricky to do on the move, I managed to pull him out and feed him as we walked. A very kind man dispatched his teenage son to push the stroller for me. (Only at the March for Life…) Shortly thereafter, Will took off his right shoe and flung it onto the street, but I failed to notice. A teenage girl came running after us to return it to me. Again, nowhere else do teenagers chase you down to be helpful.
We finally arrived at the steps of the Supreme Court and paused to let the kids snack and relax for awhile.
5. As we were chatting, I saw the Sisters of Life banner. Earlier, I had mentioned to Karen that I really wanted to find Sr. Grace Dominic, a Sister of Life who also went to grad school with me at Steubenville (although at that time she was Henrietta, not Sr. Grace Dominic). Will and I ran around like lunatics, tapping every Sister of Life we saw on the shoulder, asking, “Excuse me Sister, but is Sister Grace Dominic here?” But, we found her!
Why yes, that is my son flirting shamelessly with a nun! Will and Sr. Grace Dominic hit it right off, which I suppose is not surprising given that Will loves the ladies and the Sisters of Life love the babies. It was such a treat to be able to reconnect with an old friend with whom communication is now limited.
6. Having the opportunity to tag along with friends who have a big family reminded me of what a gift it is to have children. In the abstract, children often seem like so much work. And they are! But they are so much more than that. There are those mornings when Will has kept me up all night and I think, “Sweet baby Jesus, I can’t get any sleep with one kid. How am I ever going to sleep/exercise/do anything with a bunch of kids?!? I’ll just be fat and tired forever.” But! But! Will brings me so much joy. At the March, my friend Karen walked alongside me, with her tiny baby in the ring sling and her 5 year-old holding her hand, while her husband carried the 4 year-old on his hip and pushed the toddler in the stroller and everyone was smiling the whole time. Well, okay, the 4 year-old was having a little bit of a meltdown because she was hungry and didn’t like the lunch being offered. But everyone else was smiling, parents included. I’m sure hauling four small children to downtown DC in the cold wasn’t easy, but there was palpable joy. I am so very grateful to have lots of friends who are mamas of many. So many people don’t even consider it a possibility to have more than two, maybe three children, max. I think the day to day chaos of little children is so overwhelming at times that people just believe they will drown under the weight of caring for a larger family.
My husband and I hope to have more children, and for Will to be the oldest of a big family. But it took us a somewhat long time to get pregnant with Will and so far Baby #2 doesn’t appear to be en route. As much anxiety as I have that Will was a one hit wonder and I’ll never have another baby, I am also grateful that the waiting for him to appear and waiting for his future siblings has given me a sense of gratitude for his life and the gift of being a mother. Before having him, I assumed I would get pregnant within a couple of months of trying and that my biggest problem might be babies coming too close together. Ha. Ha. Ha. Even though I know that having a big family is an enormous undertaking requiring many sacrifices, I’ve also seen how much joy children bring and what a gift they are not just to their parents but to one another.
(Side note- I don’t think that those who get pregnant super easily are lacking in a sense of appreciation for their children, not at all! For me, I don’t think I could understand just how unmerited and not-guaranteed is the gift of a child if Will had come sooner.)
7. Go see Kelly, the hostest with the mostest, and read her last take about how many precious little lives are ended because of a potential disability. It is so heartbreaking to me that a parents are encouraged and even pressured to end the life of their baby following genetic testing. I think, what if Will had been aborted because he “might” have had cystic fibrosis? Thank God, he doesn’t. But that isn’t the point. His joy and sweetness and friendliness is a gift to me and to everyone who meets him. Having had cystic fibrosis wouldn’t change that. I’m am so thankful for this child every single day. May I never forget what a gift he is.