If you read my blog with any regularity you probably know that my 17 month old baby is a real stinker. He screams. He throws stuff. He hits me. He won’t eat. He insists on being picked up, mostly. He insists on being put down, occasionally. He is very particular. He is very difficult.
And against all reason, I love him utterly.
I don’t have a great memory for my other kids’ babyhoods (because God is good and made it that way) but I KNOW that at least four out of the other five were more pleasant than Frankie.
I do remember Anita a bit. She had her particularity, but really just one. She loved the sling. ALL THE TIME loved the sling. I’m not a hundred percent convinced that she’s not actually a marsupial. But if I would meet that need, she was GOOD. She loved to nurse. Her little face would light up when she saw me in the morning. She would smile at me and laugh and snuggle. She was easy to love.
But Frankie’s not like that. He does laugh and play, and I’ll get a toothless grin every now and again. But he’s often sad or mad when I go to get him in the morning. I get precious few morning smiles from him. If I put him down to run back into the bedrooms to grab something, he has been known to shriek and chase doggedly after me like something out of a horror movie, throwing himself repeatedly against the door that separates us.
So, apparently he likes me. But you wouldn’t really know it to look at him when I AM holding him. He squawks, he wiggles, he fusses, he hits. He does hug me often, but it’s pretty violent and involves enthusiastic head butting so it’s really not my favorite.
He was my only baby to wean himself. He was over a year old, so I guess it would’ve been okay with me, except for the WAY he did it. One day, out of the blue, he just started gagging at me when I would offer to nurse him. Not choking on milk, but loudly gagging at the sight of the offering. It was pretty offensive.
What Frankie wants to eat is raisins, almost exclusively. And if you think I DIDN’T give in and let him eat 1,000 raisins one day, then you would be wrong. And if you think you can feed a baby 1,000 raisins and then NOT wake up to <this part of the post has been removed at the request of my editor, who is also my husband>, well you’d be wrong about that too.
So, unlike other babies I know (<cough> Skylar, Julia, Beatrice) it’s really not obvious why even a mother would love Frankie. But I do. It’s not that I care for him because as his mother I am obligated to do so. I truly love him, even though he does very little to deserve it and often seems to be actively working against it.
And that’s where the God part comes in. That’s how He loves me. And that’s how I treat Him. I am drawn to Him desperately, then fight Him as He holds me. I refuse the good gifts and graces He offers me, choosing lesser things for myself instead. And then I get to deal with the consequences of my choices. I love Him, I do, although you wouldn’t always know it to look at me. But He loves me perfectly, even though I don’t deserve it. And because I love Cranky Frankie, I can understand and trust God’s love for me.
Suddenly this makes perfect sense:
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
Frankie doesn’t worry about whether he’s worthy of my love. He is very confident that he is. I think if he could talk, he’d be the first one to admit that he’s not easily satisfied. But he has that childlike trust in my love for him. And he has taught me to have that same childlike trust in God’s love for me.