We listened to the faceless voice tell us of your birth. The phone call from Colombia had come at last. The adoption agency matched you with our family. The woman caller told us that you will join us soon.
Change caused change. The home office became a nursery. Rose pink covered gray walls. I unplugged the modem and hung a mobile on a hook in the ceiling. A crib replaced the desk. The bookshelves house a music box, toy animals and a doll. The text books, manuals and periodicals have another resting place. Your room is ready. Come when you can.
Change causes change. Some require more care, more thought before we act.. They take more time to evaluate and test than selecting and applying a coat of paint. I am working on those now. I hope I am ready.
During quiet moments I think about the changes ahead. Some are subtle; some more profound. Your needs, routine and extraordinary, trivial and grand, will determine the family agenda for years. Full night sleeps will be broken into segments wrapped around your calls for feeding and assistance. Appointments, invitations, will come for events that require your presence. There will be birthdays and school plays to attend. Your mother and I will chaperone.
I sat beside the bookcase lined with titles that I hope to read. I have added to the inventory faster than I have finished my reading wish list. I do not have a shortage of reasons or excuses for allowing the library of unread material to grow. Demands of work, contributions to household chores, meeting and enjoying friendships, these duties and other temptations compete with the fixed number of hours in a day to allocate time.
The next title I cued up to read was one in a volume set of historical perspectives by Will and Ariel Durant. “Caesar and Christ” covers the lives of two towering figures in religious and political history. Its theme attracted me; at least as I anticipated it, focused on the art and skill of making decisions that may lead to apparent conflicts of interest. I imagined that by pairing these two figures Durant served up a delectable telling of the challenges we face among interests in our political, social, familial, and religious lives. One or more of these may impact the way I live, the way I treat others, the way I approach decision making.
I took the book off the shelf and dragged my finger through the table of contents. I thought for a moment that I will not find or have the time to read this book for a long time. When there is time to read, there will be other titles to read with stories about blind mice, hungry wolves, giants and dwarves. There will be rhymes and fables and words of wisdom from a doctor who writes about raising children and a doctor who writes stories for children. There will be characters with the names Mickey, Bugs, Pluto, and their more contemporary buddies, Burt and Ernie.
And I wondered. Perhaps we can work something out that will benefit us both. I believe and support the recommendation to read often to a child. The language stimulates learning; the sound of the voice encourages security, confidence, and attachment.
Here is what I propose. In the early weeks and months of your life allow me to read from the pages of Caesar and Christ. I will bring my book and sit beside you. As you lay content, I will read aloud the record of the days of the Roman Empire and birth of the Christian church. You will hear my voice and feel my presence. Send me your acceptance or rejection of the plan. After all, this is a proposal. I will listen for your baby sounds of approval, mindful of your right to wiggle with approval or squirm in disappointment.
I will pause to gauge your willingness to cooperate with my reading experiment The first moment I sense that it is time to switch to cartoon characters, I will. I think that will be fair. Perhaps there is an ideal time when we can switch between the stories of the proclaimed rulers of heaven, earth, and Muppet media.
We can really help each other. You can help me find that elusive time to read some of the titles on my list. You will receive the time and effort you deserve and that I hope to give to make your early days enjoyable.
Let us render to each other that which is fair and mindful of each other’s needs. In our time together we will have many opportunities to test our willingness to know when to listen and when to speak, when to hold on and when to let go. We have a responsibility to learn and practice the way in which we treat each other. I can’t wait to begin.