I was in the doctor's office one day getting weighed and measured at one of the several hundred trips to the ObGyn you make when you are pregnant. It was my second baby in as many years and I was an old pro. I was standing there while the thin, perky nurse jotted down a few things in my chart. I noticed that, written on the outside of my chart, in large red alarming marker strokes were the letters AMA.
AMA? American Medical Association? American Music Awards? I was confused. So, I made a giant mistake and asked.
Advanced. Maternal. Age.
I was 35.
Not a hundred and thirty five. Thirty five.
Looking at the girl next to me... standing there with her minuscule baby bump poking out and her 9th grade homework in her hand. I thought to myself "... and I'm the one considered high risk... hurrumph".
All this to say, I was, and am, an older mother. Which brings with it some sweet perks on the pregnancy front. Like frequent and awesome ultrasounds in 2D, 3D, WD-40, you name it.
I will never forget laying there while the ultrasound tech roamed around my belly with her goopy wand and then pointed to the screen to show me my tiny little baby with tiny little baby girl parts.
A girl! A daughter! My daughter. My very own daughter. I instantly felt like my insides were filled with hot caramel and I could almost feel my heart double in size for this baby inside me, this first precious and perfect daughter.
Now... this sweet little girl was certainly sweet, but she was not little. She was a "Scheduled C-Section" and she went FULL term. It was a breeze of a delivery, but when they showed her to me, I was in shock. She was such a big baby - soap opera big. Almost 10 lbs. But she was perfect... with enormous blue eyes and one little dimple on her right cheek. And the minute she was born, I felt such relief and I also felt super skinny. This, of course, was pure delusion, but with a little help from my old friend Morphine, this skinny illusion lasted several glorious hours.
I named her Molly. I knew she was a Molly my whole pregnancy. She came out and she looked like a Molly. She still does.
Molly arrived at a time in my life when I needed her most. She's been my constant side-kick for nearly 6 years. Molly's only true regret in life is that the doctor cut the cord. She'd prefer it if we were actually still connected.
But what she doesn't understand, and won't for many years, is that our connection is stronger even than a physical one. She and I both are the youngest of two children. We both have older brothers with disabilities. And we both have a flair for the dramatic. Shocking, right?
When she was very little, one of my dear friends gave me a book called "Molly the Brave". I liked the title and all that it implied. I really wanted my daughter to grow up braver than I. I may have seemed fearless to outsiders, but in truth I was afraid (and still am) of new situations, new people, new routines. I mask my fear with jokes and faux bravado, but I still am not very brave and therefore rule my life with planning and preparation, to avoid occasions of surprise.
But guess what? Molly, as it turns out, had plans of her own and developed a personality independent of my micromanagement (the nerve). She really isn't so brave after all. When she is comfortable, she is the life of the party. But walk into a room of strangers and she is practically back in utero. At the school talent show, she folded like a deck of cards under the pressure. Which shocked me because she is such a ham at home.
Instead, Molly has some other traits that have emerged in her nearly 6 years of life... She is the kindest little soul on the planet. She really truly cares about people, animals, strangers, celebrities, plants, dandelions, gnats. She pleads the case of all things living or dead. She doesn't think twice about sharing the last cookie or letting someone else go first. She is generous beyond words.
Having a brother with special needs isn't always easy. Yet Molly handles it all with extraordinary grace.
The other morning we were walking into church. There were two collection envelopes that day... one for the regular weekly collection and one special collection. The special collection envelope was blue. My kids get great joy out of putting the envelopes into the collection basket. I - without thinking - handed the regular one to John and the "blue one" to Molly. John decided he had to have the blue one or life as we know it could. not. go. on. I told him that I had already given the blue one to Molly and next time there was a special envelope he could have it.
"But........ I HAVE TO HAVE THE BLUE ONE, MOMMY, I HAVE TO HAVE IT, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, I HAVE TO HAVE THE BLUE, BECAUSE I AM WEARING A BLUE SHIRT AND IF YOU HAVE ON A BLUE SHIRT YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE BLUE ENVELOPE BECAUSE BLUE GOES WITH BLUE AND IT'S A RULE AND....."
Did I mention this all went down inside the church. The big, old, otherwise silent Catholic church? Did I mention all the old parishioners were giving me the "Back in my Day..." stare?
Then he stopped yelling, bowed his head and sobbed.
And then my daughter... who is merely 5 years old.... crawled over my lap and slid the coveted blue envelope into John's soaking wet, tear filled hands. He looked up and said "Really?" and she said "Sure, why wouldn't I give it to you? I don't want you to cry anymore, Johnny."
I was never so proud. Her purity, her kindness, her unselfishness in a world where selfishness is king - brought me to tears.
We were quite the sight, we three. John red faced and still hyperventilating. Me - smiling and wiping my own tears. And between us - our youngest family member: Sweet, precious Molly...
Molly the Kind,
Molly the Generous,
Molly the Loving,
Molly the Brave.