Between I will and I do….the “baby” question

Getting married at this stage of my life has its definite advantages. There is much of what I wanted to achieve and do that has been done.  It also comes with its own challenges.  Challenges that one would expect like learning to let go of some independence, learning what inter-dependence looks like and figuring out how to share my space naturally with another, appreciating that when God says two are better than one and a cord of three isn’t easily broken, that the bonding of this cord happens as things are resolved (this means wrestling, stand offs, choices and inevitable conflict at times). Challenges as families shift in their understanding of each other and the way that we are involved in each other’s lives.

It also means that we learn to trust another’s involvement in our lives and our life choices:  not because the other is the “boss of me” but because the other actually cares about me and wants me to be a good “boss of me”.

One of the hardest things for me, especially as we have made choices not to live together, not to sleep together and are doing our courtship the “old school” Christian way of preparing for marriage- there is lots of anticipating and excitement, but also recognising that our first year of marriage may have lots of ‘refining moments’– is the fact the people frequently feel the need to tell me to hurry up and have babies because I am getting on…. (Open private speech bubble: It’s hard not want to ask you what you know about my ovaries or my fiancé’s reproductive capacity in these conversations: Close private speech bubble)

Thank you for believing that I will make a good mom.

Thank you for being interested in our lives.

And now I am going to thank you for trusting that this is something that my fiancé and I have spoken about; have prayed about; have made choices about too.  A wise friend said to me when I voiced my frustration:  There isn’t only one way of having babies nowadays – and there are no guarantees regardless of age or planning or how much of a good parent one may potentially be. My Ouma had her last child at the age of 44, AFTER a mastectomy and a bout with breast cancer.  He is perfectly healthy.  Yes, the risks are there.  Yes, it may be harder but it also may be easier for me than for some of my other friends who have done EVERYTHING right – they eat well, they keep their body fat at the optimal percentage, they exercise, they LOVE children and they have a supportive community around them and yet, I know their heartaches and things just not happening despite trying for months at the optimal age. Not just one friend – numerous friends! There are no guarantees in any of this.

It has been hard to know how to respond when the day we got engaged people started telling me I needed to start trying; or asking how long we planned on waiting because….well, you know, Lex, you are old; or going to an appointment with the lady doctor and being told to go home and make a baby now because the egg was in the perfect place according to the scan (She got asked to behave!).  It’s hard when I know that people don’t mean this badly. 

We would like to walk down the aisle first.  We would like to be in a position, where as a self-employed person, I don’t need to work for 3 months and we will be financially comfortable.  We would like to have memories of us 2 before we make memories of us 3 or us 4.  We also know that we want to choose a baby –regardless of whether we ‘make a bio-baby’ or not.

In the midst of all the pending changes, the last thing my heart, my brain and my body can cope with is the idea of being a mom on top of this all.  Yes, there are risks. We are risking joining 2 lives.  We are risking making decisions around careers and homes and futures as a couple.  We are risking giving up individual adventures to have a joint adventure.  Allow us to risk this well before we risk together with the life of another little person.  We want to risk for and with them. We want to love them well – more than well.

Just give us a little bit of time to get there!

A James Thomas Moment… To God be the Glory

Today the world – yes the world – began to grieve the loss of a good & godly man.

Yesterday chaos broke out on twitter, in the press & in more specifically in a shopping mall in Nairobi when Somalian Muslim extremists whose motive was revenge- based decided to open fire and make sure that the world knew that they were present.

Yesterday, in a shopping mall in Kenya, people were gunned down – unless Muslim (according to reports) – and terrorized and are still being held hostage as I type this.  Images of injured children being wheeled out in shopping trolleys made the sight of innocent children sleeping in trolleys today bittersweet to see.

Last night at our connect group (Christian community group) we interceded for James Thomas who was last seen just before the chaos broke out.  Early this morning there was a weird sense of hope & possibility that he was a hostage when there still hadn’t been news.  This afternoon when we heard he had been identified among those killed it bought the Kenyan tragedy very close to home.

This is the second person in my broader community, whose life I have had a connection to via my immediate community, has been taken by extremist actions.

James was a larger than life figure in my mind.  Someone who looked at life from different angles, who loved God and people deeply and whose sense of enterprise and justice radically changed lives as he put this into action.  James was one of the first “old” faces I saw at church when I returned to Cape Town after 9 years of being away.  His hug and welcome reminded me of this big man with a heart that was warm and a chuckle that was deep. James wasn’t a tourist in Kenya, he was working in Kenya – seeing things he had envisioned being made real. 

In the midst of scrolling through facebook statuses, tributes & comments to James and his family, I had an encounter that left me feeling like actually, this was a James moment.  James was relational.  I remember that well.  I experienced it.

My fiance was trying on shirts for our wedding.  A conservative Muslim woman, covered from head to hands to feet was sitting on a chair waiting next to me. Her chubby cheeked baby was fast asleep in a pram – I commented that this was the way to survive shopping trips.  She lifted her veil and smiled at me, putting out her hand and introducing herself.  We smiled at each other and recognizing she wasn’t local, I asked where she was from.  Somalia.  Her husband was a doctor, furthering his studies here. As her husband and my fiance emerged from their cubicles, almost simultaneously, both asking our opinions, she quickly dropped her veil and we shared a chuckle.  We were more the same in that surreal moment than we were different.  

It was poignant reminder that in the midst of trying to make sense of the “Somalian” attack in Nairobi, we had life happening. Relationships between people of different faiths – people who matter much – don’t always have to be characterized by fear, prejudice or conflict .  It was a reminder that it’s easy to label, to judge and to assume the worst.  Underneath that veil was a strikingly beautiful, warm woman who sought to know my name.

To God Be the Glory:  a well-known hymn we sang to close off the church service this morning.  As the chorus sounded up, I had a deep sense of knowing that James was no longer with us; of reassurance that he was “home”.  That he had arrived with “well done for a race well run.  Well done.”

There are no words enough to comfort a family who has lost their life partner, their father & a community who lost someone who made an impact in meeting him & through his actions. Yet, in the midst of praying and seeking hope and trusting, all that is resounding in my mind is To God Be The Glory.