More from my autobio
They kept Barbara and Joshua in the hospital for three days, and I was very glad when I could finally bring them home. That evening Barbara nursed Josh and then put him into his little bed next to ours.
“There,” she said, “he’ll sleep for four hours now, so he’ll be up again at 1 am. We should be able to get some good sleep before the next feeding.”
We went to bed and quickly fell asleep. However, we were soon awakened by Josh’s crying. I looked at the clock: 11 pm. “I thought he was supposed to sleep for four hours!” I grumped. “Why is he awake so early?”
“I don’t know,” said Barbara.
“You don’t know?!!!” I said emphatically, feeling some panic. “But you’re the mother!! You’re supposed to know!”
“This is my first time to be a mother,” Barbara replied calmly, “I don’t know everything yet!” She got up, took Josh from his little bed and brought him into ours. As she snuggled with him, he stopped crying and was soon asleep.
“He was cold,” she said, “the hospital was much warmer than our bedroom is.” So she did know what to do after all! I was relieved.
And so we began our apprenticeship as parents, with our new son as our teacher. Barbara’s mother came the next week and spent three weeks giving us advice, some of which was useful.
Josh’s arrival brought out in the open a quiet conflict that had developed shortly after our wedding: arriving places on time. When getting ready for church or some other meeting, Barbara would slowly prepare herself, and as part of this would also straighten things up, puttering about taking care of household details. This often resulted in us arriving a bit late.
This really aggravated me; I liked to be on time, or better yet early so I could visit with some with people before the meeting started.
Now with a child added to the mix, this timing thing got worse. Since there was no margin in Barbara’s preparation, if something went wrong, like Josh filling his diaper just as we were going out of the door, there was no avoiding us being definitely late.
I tried everything to remedy this situation, especially on Sunday mornings. I made breakfast, I got Josh ready, I cleaned the kitchen, I got everything necessary prepared, taken out and into the car. And still we were late!
Finally in one of our discussions about this, a discovery came to light: we each had a different idea of what it meant to be on time! For Barbara being on time meant that we were driving into the parking lot when the second hand on the clock swept up to 12, arriving at the time the meeting was to start.
For me, being on time meant we arrived about 10 minutes before the scheduled start, got our coats hung up, greeted people and were in our seats when the second hand swept up to 12. And now with a child to deliver to the nursery, according to my schedule, we needed to be there at least 15 minutes before the start.
In the end we made an agreement: she would work to be on time by my definition if I would keep my desk more orderly. She had a point there: orderliness was not one of my strong traits. In fact her ability to organize was one of the qualities I appreciated most about her. When she approached a scene of mild chaos, things almost jumped into place by themselves! Or so it seemed.
I will say that over the years, Barbara has done a better job at keeping our agreement than I have. But our conflict was not yet over, because the root causes had not yet been uncovered. The Lord would reveal them in his own time.
Picture: My sister Marcia with Barbara and little Josh