Sunday, October 10, 2004

always a bridesmaid. . .

I've actually never been a bridesmaid. But if the adage fits. . .

My husband was made a godfather yesterday. This is his third godchild.

Yesterday afternoon, we were invited to a party to celebrate the 6 month birthday of our friend's baby. (These are the friends who got pregnant a month after learning of the husband's low sperm count.) They're Indian. And traditionally, when a baby turns 6 months old, there is a special ceremony to officially commemorate the introduction of solid food into the baby's diet. Usually, the mother's brother feeds the first bites to the baby. But my friend has no brother. And when we arrived at the house yesterday, she pulled us aside and told us that they wanted my husband to fill that role. So he was briefed on the ceremony which involved him sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding the baby in his lap and feeding her a bite from each of the dishes that we'd all be eating later that day. His forehead was brushed with sandalwood paste, a symbol of purity. He touched the different foods to her lips. (she didn't cry even at the spiciest dishes.) He offered her a plate full of various items symbolizing her future career choice and waited for her to reach for one. (She chose a silver rattle). Everyone agreed that he did a good job. And he held that baby for the rest of the day, only giving her up to me or her mother when he was ready to eat.

Mama (I think that's how it's spelled) is the name for his role. And supposedly, in Indian culture, the mama is like the godfather. He is responsible for half of her dowry when she gets married, is present at all of the important ceremonies in her life. We were shocked and honored that my husband was asked. And when we got home last night, I told him how significant it was that he had been chosen. Wanted to make sure that he understood the importance of his place in this baby's life.

It's not surprising to me that my husband has been chosen to be a godfather to three different babies. Children love him. He's good with them. Yesterday, after watching him with her baby for a while, my friend turned to me and confessed that she thought he seemed more comfortable with the baby than she was. He's going to make an excellent father, she said. And I agreed. Have always known that.

I'm not sure if this is the right time, but I have something for you, she said. They went to India with the new baby this summer and brought us back a bunch of gifts. But there was one more. A tiny silver rattle, just like the one her daughter had chosen from the plate earlier in the day. When they left for India in May, my husband and I were actively trying to conceive and had no idea that we had any problems in the getting pregnant department. Our friends knew that we were trying and bought us the rattle in the hopes that when they got back from their 3 month trip, we'd have good news to share and they'd have a congratulatory gift ready and waiting.

She gave me the rattle yesterday. It's the first baby thing that I own. I don't feel jinxed by it, maybe because it was a gift and not something I bought for myself. I didn't feel sad when she gave it to me, only hopeful. Certain that someday I will have a baby who will hold it and shake it to hear the tiny bells ring. I'm not sure I would have felt this way a couple of months ago.

You will be parents someday, she said. And now your baby will have something to remember me by.

Thank you, I said. Thank you so much.

And I meant so much more than thanks for the gift. I meant to thank her for believing in us as potential parents, for being so certain that it will happen for us that she was unapologetic about presenting me with a gift that may not be useful for another year or two or three. For wanting to be a part of our future child's life in the way that we are now connected to her daughter.

I showed the rattle to my husband when we got home and waited for his reaction. He just smiled, didn't seem to think that getting a gift for a baby that isn't even growing yet was strange. I slipped the rattle back into its velvet pouch and put it into the drawer where I keep my jewelry.

I'm sure I'll look at it from time to time as a reminder of things to come. Am not worried at all that it will make me think of what I'm missing now, only what I will have in the future. My little silver touchstone. My little jingly piece of hope.


Blogger spiller said...

That is hang onto it!

7:11 PM  
Blogger bill naka said...

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8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:35 AM  

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