I held a toddler in church today. It was God's sense of humour coming to light when least expected. Mrs. Spit and I went to the early service to try, vainly it turned out, to avoid the mass of kids that are at the second service at our church. While Mrs. Spit was setting up flowers and such prior to the service, a friend walked up to me with her son. This guy is about a year old now. He saw me, his face lit up, and reached out his arms to me - the universal "pick me up" gesture.
I held him, and was fine with that. Until the little guy pulled his best impression of Pepe le Pu - getting himself handed back to mum for a change.
During the service, he and mum were sitting in front of us. Guess who wanted to be picked up by Mrs. Spit and I? So we spent the whole service juggling the kid back and forth. He's really not happy right now as four teeth are coming in. Don't ask what the sermon was about, as I have no clue. I spent that time bouncing a little boy on my knee, trying to keep him happy.
By the time we hit the end of the sermon, I really had had enough. I was getting tired of Pepe, feeling that I had hit a saturation point - unable to take any more. He went back to Mrs. Spit for a while, but the little bugger seems to think I'm the greatest thing around - he kept wanting me to hold him.
I couldn't help but think that I was supposed to be holding my own son. Gabriel would have been three weeks old and surely we would be taking him to church with us. As I sat in the pew, playing games, bouncing Pepe, and thinking about the role of men in raising children, I was deeply saddened that Pepe was not my own son. Sure, I can interact with other people's kids, but they get handed back once the encounter is over. I might hold the juice for a little while, but I didn't get to feed my own son.
I miss Gabriel. I tried to escape children this morning, but I couldn't. I wanted to be able to spend time with Mrs. Spit without them around, but was thwarted by a bigger plan. I am torn right now. Torn between never ever wanting children in my life, because it hurts too much, and wanting to have my own son or daughter to bring up in this world.
As I thought about what men bring to the equation, I thought about how men bring the uncertainty and danger of the world to a child. As I was dipping little Pepe and he was reaching to grab my arm as he felt like he was falling back, I thought about how I was helping to teach him trust, with a touch of excitement. We men like to lift babies in the air, even to toss them up and catch them again. You can see the wave a fear wash over the child, to be chased away by the smile of excitement that the adventure brings to their life.
Today is yet another hard day in a long sequence of hard days. Those damn contractors took a day off yesterday, but they're back today - working on a Sunday... and there's nowhere I can go to escape them.