Wittle Pumpkin.

I am so completely and totally not ready to have kids. Here’s one reason why: I’m selfish. My best friend from college who happens to be almost the same age as me and happens to be a mom now, well, she’s totally ready to have kids. Well, actually. I don’t know. She has a kid. The cutest little five-month old who wandered into her belly when she wasn’t expecting it.

There we were at Starbucks, single me and married best friend, sipping on chai teas and frappucinos like that was all that mattered in the world when she whipped out a bookmark from our Bible study book. Seriously though, I would have been pumped to see a new bookmark. I actually get really excited about things like bookmarks and we actually text each other pictures of new journals and new pens quite frequently. It’s a weird obsession.

So out pops this “bookmark” that totally wasn’t holding her page at all and she could have cared less what was on page 93 and she slaps it down in front of me and there it sat on top of my book. My eyes followed the bookmark from the jump out of the book to the landing zone right in front of me. And my eyes just stayed there for a while.

This was no ordinary bookmark.

It was gray and white and black and had swirly things and looked like all these blobs, an art project gone wrong. “I just thought you would really like to see this new bookmark I got,” she smirked. I stared. I stared actually for probably way too long. “I’m pregnant!”

She really was pregnant, and this swirly picture wasn’t really a bad bookmark after all. She told me that it was the size of a poppy seed. Or was it a blueberry? This size game of measuring the growing fetus to a perfectly good fruit that you eat continued the entire time. They actually all do it. Congratulations! Your baby is the size of a lemon…You won’t believe it! You’re having an avocado. But, as it turns out, it pops out as a baby—an eating, pooping, crying, spitting, eating, sleeping, pooping baby.

Ready or not!

When my cousin found out they were going to have a baby, I inquired, while eating my (selfish) dinner of fajitas-for-one where I worried about (selfishly) only feeding myself, “So, are you ready to be a dad?”

“I guess so,” he replied. I’m actually wondering what would have happened if he said no, he wasn’t ready. Well, I guess we’ve seen a few guys in this world who decided that actually they weren’t ready for something that they actually knew would happen because of X and here you are stuck with the resulting Y. They bail. Good thing he’s not the bailing type.

So the swirly bookmark moved from blueberry (or poppy seed) to lemon to avocado to a whole freaking pumpkin. I went to see this pumpkin, but not really pumpkin, in the hospital and I held him with fear, like the kind of holding when you have to stay sitting and you feel your limbs cramping up because you’re so stiff and you forget that you need to breathe to stay alive. My best friend looked tired, very tired. “I have to tell you all about it,” she whispered to only me in a room full of googly eyes and people who talked in these whiny high-pitched voices saying words that aren’t words, like ohh youu goo goo gaa gaa wittle babyyy! You look just like your mommy! News flash: they don’t look like mommy or daddy. They look like aliens for quite some time. That wittle nose has been squished up for literally nine months and looks nothing like Daddy’s not-so-wittle nose.

I have to tell you, I finally got to hear the I have to tell you all about it and I’m not sold on the whole ordeal. It sounds like a fiasco. The things I have learned are, frankly, unbelievable. I’ll spare you the stretch mark and breast feeding details.

But she absolutely loves her little pumpkin and she wouldn’t trade him for an actual pumpkin any day. Just last week I bounced him around in my arms for a few minutes and did the whole goo goo gaa gaa routine and then I stared at my dinner on the table and I held him out to her like, “Sooo, what should I do with him while we eat?” Pathetic. (Selfish.) But I was so hungry.

“I mean, I’ll just hold him while we eat.” She bounced him up and down with one arm and one knee, ate dinner with the other knee, (I mean arm, but knee eating would be impressive) and held an entire conversation with her mouth and her brain. Incredible. Then came the diaper changes and the monitors screaming all night long. I woke up exhausted and I hadn’t done a thing.

So, this is why I am totally not ready for a baby. Or an avocado or a lemon or a pumpkin. For now, my bookmark doesn’t have swirls on it and I care about what page I’m on and, let me tell you, I am definitely in the first few chapters of my book.

Let’s Make a Deal.

God, let's make a deal

One time I made a deal with God: if I fight for a cure for cancer, will you be sure that I never get it?

Somehow my hours of planning pancake fundraisers and roasting s’mores with students on campus (just for an excuse to throw childhood cancer stats at them) and even stringing little Superman underwear scribbled with colorful, catchy childhood cancer facts should totally earn me some brownie points. The happier the flapjack poster, the better the odds. I’ll store the points up for later and God will certainly reward me with a healthy life. And the nights where we stayed up all night, dancing for a cure, those had to earn me some serious credit. After all, I gave up a year’s worth of time in planning, fed college students food in exchange for advocacy ears, clanked together a few coins in a jar, designed and wore the T-shirt, and then gave up one whole night’s sleep to prove my dedication to such a worthy cause. Surely dancing equates to a cure for cancer. We had such a good thing going.

We had a deal, right?

I actually don’t know the outcome to this bargain. God may not have cancer on my itinerary, but it will also probably have nothing to do with how many Red Bulls I drank to stay up all night dancing.

I think He might care that I cared. He made my heart break for the small children with no hair. He made my mind spin with possibilities of getting my friends to care about the small children with no hair. He made my hands and my feet move into action in defense of the defenseless small children with no hair, and he made my schedule clear for the hours of sign making and awareness spreading that yes, indeed, these children are small and yes, indeed, they lost a lot more than just hair.

But somehow I don’t think this whole bargain thing is real. We can’t get straight A’s all our lives and expect our paycheck to directly correlate. Believe me—the numbers on my pay stub do not reflect a deal gone well in that department. I brushed my teeth every day growing up—it was my little brother who didn’t—yet I still don’t produce enough saliva and my teeth are rotting. Where’s the even trade on that one? I started cheerleading in 1st grade before everyone else and put in hours and hours at the gym and my parents threw dollars and dollars down the drain and I went to private lesson after private lesson…but I still didn’t make the college team. No scholarship or return on investment for that one.

We all would like to think that we made it through a really hard winter this year, so we will surely get a beautiful spring in return. Well, this day still shows clouds out my window.

So I guess I’ll have to just do what I love for simply the sake of doing it—with no hope for an exchange. If I help all my friends and family with the mind-numbing editing of resumes, my book won’t magically be on the shelves at the bookstore. If I write grants for money for those who are hungry, I’m not guaranteed a life without rolling pennies to buy groceries. If I help fight for a cure for childhood cancer, my small child might one day get cancer before the day we ever see a cure.

But, how about this deal?

If you send me more cold days, could you send me some gloves or even a fire to warm my hands? If you send me some days of poverty, could you send me a laugh to get through it? If you send me more pain and tooth decay, could you send me some doctors who understand and who even care?

And if you do send me cancer, could you send me someone to shave my head and hold my hand? Maybe even someone who would shave her head with me—someone fighting the battle by my side.

My grandmother died when my mom was exactly my age—24. I would bet my mom had a few things up her sleeve that she was willing to sacrifice if God would have just kept her mom alive. If I just try harder and help more, could you just let her stay to meet my children? And I would bet my grandmother watched pennies turn into dollars and dreamed about her retirement one day. If I just save it now, will you let us enjoy it later? None of the bargaining worked out. But God did send a loving family to help her through her illness, to build a lift to get her in and out of the bathtub and point to letters on charts when she could no longer speak. And God did send a wonderful stepmother to love the grandchildren and be Grandpa’s companion in an adventurous retirement. The deals aren’t always quite as we bargained, but there are comforting deals that He can certainly uphold.

I would bet she loved how her family loved her and I would bet she loves how her family is loved today—I think she would have bargained for that.

We live in a world where we pay someone in exchange for cleaning our car. And we buy new brakes expecting that we will be safe on the road. Someone asks me for a favor at work and I usually respond, “What’s in it for me?”. We expect something in return. So please excuse us if we stomp our feet too loudly some days. Sometimes we just have to stomp our feet and march up the stairs and slam the door because life just isn’t full of fair bargaining.