My Two Unpublished Pieces
During this pregnancy, I have tried to get a few pieces published. I wrote two pieces in particular about pregnancy and submitted them to two online magazines dealing with pregnancy, motherhood, etc. Both pieces were rejected.
So, rather than feeling rejected myself, I reminded myself of the reality of the publishing world: most of what one writes will not be received unless one is already a famous writer. Plus, these two pieces may not even be very good. I may be under the impression that I am not as strong of a writer as I may imagine myself to be.
Rather than try to submit these to somewhere else, I’m going to post them here. Both have a timeline on them, and I have a feeling I’m going into labor any day now, so I want to release them before the baby comes.
Entry One: “But At Your Word”
(September 14, 2016)
(submitted to a site geared towards Christian women)
My experience is not unique when compared to many other women. I too bought the home pregnancy kit like millions of others, and I too saw the two pink lines one sunny Saturday morning seven months ago. My husband and I cried, laughed, and did little dances around the house. We’re older parents (in our 30s and 40s), so we were elated that we had gotten pregnant so easily.
Being a first-time mom with no experience around babies, I didn’t know what to expect. But I soon found out. I started the doctor visits: ultrasounds, exams, glucose tests, doppler monitors, paperwork, and never-ending insurance payments. Then came the body challenges: nausea (I never knew the smell of liquid white-out would turn my stomach so badly), heartburn, headaches, swollen feet and hands, falling asleep in public and intense insomnia at home, and hemorrhoids (oh, hemorrhoids!). And then the growth of the belly occurred; I’m amazed how skin can stretch so far.
While this story sounds normal for many women, deciding to try for a baby was my greatest leap of faith. I grew up disliking children, and that dislike would often turn to pure loathing. I didn’t want to be around them. I never wanted to hold a friend’s baby. I hated how young children would just stare at me as if I were there to bring them endless entertainment, crunchy snacks, and juice boxes. Why were kids always sticky with a sweat-like film, and why did they always smell? I became a community college English instructor in part so I would not have to deal with young children / teenagers (and their parents!). So when I met my husband, and he also expressed a desire to not have children, I was elated. We would be together as a team, never needing to procreate in order to feel complete. I had reached my 30s without my biological clock screaming the alarm of dying ovaries, so why satisfy a non-existent need?
But God, in all His glory, started to change my husband’s heart. He would make small comments about babies and us trying for one. This was in the middle of me feeling shaky about my career: should I go back for a Ph.D? Should I send out another round of applications to try and land an elusive, full-time professorship in an educational market that is already oversaturated? Should I try changing jobs and attempt something other than teaching? To top it off, the husband was in his own career transition and finishing up his schooling. I remember being frustrated many, many days, asking God, Why now? What are you doing? Are you joking? Don’t you realize I don’t like children?
Like many, I tend to fear what I cannot control, so I fear almost all seasons of change. I’m the kind of person who would rather sit in the same place doing the same things for years on end than risk walking into unknown lands. If I had been in the boat with Peter, and if I had seen him step out on the water toward Jesus, I probably would have run to the other side of the vessel and thrown a blanket over my head (Matthew 14:22-33).
But our Lord is so tender: He reached into my fear-based heart and asked me to let go. He told me to try conceiving. He told me to launch out into deep waters, waters that I had never touched, and to let down my nets for a great, beautiful catch (Luke 5:2-11).
So when I looked at those two pink lines seven months ago, I looked with amazement and a bit of trepidation, but mainly with trust. Here was a situation that had happened to so many women before me and that would happen to so many women after me. The One who created procreation, and the One who knows me more that I could ever know myself, gave me a gift. This gift will grow out of my womb and into the world, making an impact beyond my fragile imagination.
Therefore, I choose to throw off my blanket and worship.
Entry Two: “A Song for Boys”
(November 8, 2016)
(submitted to a site accepting entries on the theme of “boys”)
I grew up in a house full of women, and I was the oldest sister. My cat was a boy, but he was fluffy and feminine, so I never saw him in a male state. My father was a boy, but he was Dad, and that superseded “boy.” So when I interacted with boys at school (more like saw them sitting in tiny wolf packs in the cafeteria), I didn’t know what to do with them. Boys were a strange, new species to me.
Boys were sticky and smelled like dirt. They made a lot of noise in class and liked to play rough games of handball; they hated playing against me because I would cower at the ball flying toward my face, ruining their fun. They ran very fast and flew like monkeys all over the playground.
Boys were comfortable in their bodies. They never felt embarrassed to burp or fart. They didn’t worry about raising their hands and answering incorrectly. They also didn’t worry about not raising their hands at all. They knew how to stand, how to walk, and how to dance before their crowds of friends.
Boys were mean. They studied my makeup and laughed at my attempts to wear eyeshadow and lipstick. They called me a makeup lesbian. Was it because I never dressed the part of a teenage girl, content in my Levi 501s, my Vans, and my boxy t-shirts? Was it because I never blew kisses at them two desks away?
Boys had special powers. They ran for 8th grade class president and won while I came in second place. They asked me out in Algebra class, and I said no because they made sexually-laden jokes every day. They wrapped their arms around my waist in the hallway without my permission. They took kisses from me at age eight and tried to take off my red sweatpants while I screamed.
Boys were attractive. They grew taller and faster. Their voices descended. Their hair fell around their eyes like foreign curtains. They asked out my friends and wrote them love notes. They laughed at the love notes I wrote to them.
To my surprise, some boys turned to men. One man eventually didn’t laugh at me or my notes. He met me in a black suit; I met him in a white dress. The best of boyhood radiated through him like a low and steady bass line: tender strength, humor, hands to hold while I danced, a radiant sun to my soft moon.
The cycle continues. Two pink lines tell me I carry a new life. This new life is male. This boy swims through me like the strange, new species he is: my exotic, deep-sea creature.
He will swim through me in a matter of days. He will rush forth in all his male infancy, in all his strength and vulnerability. And when I first touch his new skin and hear his new cries, this will be my mantra.
May he be kind to girls on the handball court.
May he respect his body and be comfortable in it while allowing others to be comfortable in theirs, allotting their bodies the respect all bodies deserve.
May he use his special powers to speak for those who cannot speak and defend those who cannot stand, cannot walk, cannot breathe on their own.
May he be attractive in the truest way.
May he run fast, be loud, and break open into life.
May he grow into a man while preserving the best of his boyhood, mixed with pieces from his father and his mother, who love him because he is a beautiful, marvelous, extraordinary boy.