"You will be a better mom because you are a theologian, and a better theologian because you are a mom."

Is it true? In this blog, I explore the interplay and intersection of motherhood and theologianhood.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Why, Mommy?"

"Mom, when is baby Eva's birthday?" Maia asked me as we were walking home from the park one day last week.

"I don't know yet, Maia." I responded.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because Eva hasn't been born yet. You don't know someone's birthday until she is born."

"Why?" inquired Maia.

"Because a birthday is defined by the day on which the person is born."

"But I thought baby Eva's birthday was in December," suggested Maia.

"Well, we sure hope so," I replied. "It's our best guess. But we don't know the date yet."

As you can see, Maia has hit the question phase full-force. This has been going on for awhile now, especially the "Why?" aspect. I find myself usually pretty patient with answering Maia's questions, although I am starting to realize that some questions just don't have very good answers. Or maybe it's just that I don't have very good answers to her questions.
Also last week, during a quick car trip, Maia asked me why it was painful to die on a cross. And I have to admit that I'm more anxious about answering questions that have some kind of theological significance. I think I said something like, "It hurts a lot to have nails through your hands and feet," and of course, she said, "Why?" I don't even know how I answered this. But then the next thing Maia said was, "I don't want to die." This time, I got to ask why:
"Why, Maia?"
"Because it's painful. I don't want to die on a cross," she answered.
"Well, chances are you won't literally die on a cross, Maia," I assured her.
"Why, Mommy?"
"Nowadays there just aren't many people who are crucified."
"Why, Mommy?"
"Death by crucifixion was characteristic of certain historical time periods and geographical locations. It's not so common here and now."
"Why, Mommy?"
"I don't have a firm grasp of the history of crucifixion, Maia. I'm sorry. Maybe Daddy would know."
"Well, I don't want to die," she said.
"It might not be so bad," I answered. "Then you get to be with Jesus and all the angels and saints, like Mary."

"I don't want to be with Jesus. Because then I was at the hospital and I was sick and Jesus was there, holding me and he baptized me and he wanted to take me to heaven and I said 'No' and, Mommy, Father Satish is not Jesus."
This reply was the recap of a dream she had this past summer. She woke up from a nap in early June, crying and telling me she didn't want to die. I think every parent knows that at some point she's going to have the death conversation with her child. But at 26 months old? Jeff and I scoured our memories to think of where Maia had even encountered the concept of death. Finally we realized that crucifixes were probably her only association with death. I guess it's no wonder, then, that she was afraid. This dream seems to haunt Maia's memory, as she mentions it all the time.
So Jeff and I have tried to have conversations with Maia about why death isn't so bad. But she doesn't seem to get it. Then there was the instance a couple of weeks ago, when Maia was mad at me because it was time to leave the park. "I want you to go away and die!" she yelled at me. "Maia," I responded, "I think you would be very sad if I died." "No, just leave! I'll live with the Peters family!" she answered. So I told her, "I know I will die some day, and that's ok. But right now I want to stay alive so I can be your mommy on earth and take care of you. And it's not very nice to say that you want me to die." Maia put her thumb in her mouth and gave me the cold shoulder for the next five minutes. I don't know if she was thinking how much she'd miss me or how much fun she would have living 24-7 with her friend Samuel.

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