One of Evie’s favorite movies is Disney’s “Cinderella.” (The classic animated film, that is, not the live action remake. Ryan and Kathleen like the remake, but it doesn’t have enough singing or dancing in it for Evie.)
She likes all the music in the movie. She sings, “Sing Sweet Agaga (nightingale)” in the bathtub, scrubbing the floor of the tub with her washcloth. She sings, “A Dream is a Wish” in the mornings (complete with clock bell noises).
But her favorite song from the movie, the one she sings most often, is “So This is Love.” She sings it over and over, “So this a-yuv, hmm hmm hmm hmm,” as she dances around the living room or the kitchen. It is one of the go to songs when she wants to be sung to sleep, and it seems to live constantly in the back of our brains waiting to pop up at odd moments.
One such moment was a few weeks ago when Evie was sick. She had already thrown up once in the evening, and I had given her a bath, (Kathleen was on night shift), put all the dirty clothes in the laundry, changed her into clean clothes, gotten some blueberries into her tummy, rocked her almost all the way to sleep and very gently put her into bed. Immediately she rolled over and threw up on the pillows, the sheets, her clean jammies, everything. It was only my cat-like reflexes that saved Snuggle Blankie (you don’t want Snuggle Blankie to need a bath right before bed time. When I picked her up she continued to vomit on me.
Two thoughts popped into my head. The first was, “I guess I am going to be cleaning vomit out of my chest hair tonight.”
The other was, “So this a-yuv, hmm hmm hmm hmm, so this a-yuv.”
Tonight she was in a specially rambunctious mood as Kathleen and I conducted phase 1 of bedtime operations. She was talking and singing all through goodnight prayers. When I picked her up to put her in her crib she said, “Sing this a-yuv!” So we sang it, and Evie wiggled around showing not the slightest sign of sleepiness. She said goodnight readily enough, but 5 minutes later was standing up in her crib and crying for Mama.
And that is where Kathleen is now, rocking Evie to sleep some more.
But you have to admit, in the context that song is fitting enough. In fact, I would say it is even more fittingly applied to a vomiting and/or sleep-averse toddler than to Cinderella and her Prince. Especially the line that says, “So this is what makes life divine.”
And again, “…and now I know / The key to what Heaven is like.”
I suppose it is a bit shocking to think that in some way Heaven is like being drenched in purple toddler puke, but if we are to believe that Heaven consists in participating in the inner life of the Trinity, and that this life is an eternal outpouring of self-gift, then I am forced to conclude that Heaven does in fact bear some resemblance to vomit-covered chest hair.
In fact, I suspect that is one of the reasons why God sends us children, and why masculinity and femininity are most often completed and perfected in fatherhood and motherhood. Quite simply, children cramp our style. They draw out of us actions which we would before have considered distasteful, menial, impossible or monotonous. Now it’s just part of the daily routine. Children cause us to endure cheerfully and as a matter of course what we once thought of as heroic suffering. We cease to think of it as heroic. Often we cease to think of it even as suffering. It’s just part of the job, and when all is said and done we did no more than was required of us. God be thanked if we managed somehow to avoid doing very much less than was required of us. Being a parent virtually forces us to realize that we truly are unprofitable servants.
Children are dreadfully inconvenient, but we don’t notice that very much. We are too busy thinking of ways to teach them or love them, smooth out the path or strengthen them to walk it. The inconvenience is part of the advantage of having them. They do not care one bit about our comfort or convenience, our sanity or peace of mind. They are not supposed to. They are offered to us because they unerringly and unrelentingly hit us right where we are weakest and most vulnerable…
Right in the selfishness.
And that is right where we need to be hit.