Print Version December 21st, 2004
“Do you know what my mummy’s got in her tummy?” That’s what my three-and-a-half year old niece asked me yesterday. Well, I tried, ‘chips’ which Becky was sneaking of her mum’s plate. “NO”. Then we moved onto worms, fish, and other squeal-producing ideas, before she informed me with all the magisterial condescension only someone her age can pull off, “Noooo. It’s a baby!”
So we talked about little brothers and sisters—Molly or Matthew, she’s decided to my brother’s horror—and where the new baby was going to sleep and whether it would be able to run around and which of her toys it would be allowed to touch. But then she let me into another secret. “I’ve got a baby in my tummy too”, she said. “It wriggles”. So we all had a turn feeling her pushed-out tummy. “It wiggles too but it doesn’t kick like Mummy’s baby. It’s nearly ready to come out”, she confided, “but I’ve told it it has to wait until Mummy’s ready”. … Oh, the next five months are going to be interesting! …
We are all Mary: we have life always waiting to be born in us. And, if like Mary, we listen to our better instincts we know that bearing life into the world is not something we can ever do alone. We need companions. We need encouragement. We need the kinship of others willing to go through the same struggle and joy with us. We need the echo in another’s body of what we sense stirring in our own. We need our Elizabeths.