The gift of not knowing

Jenny Uebbing

Our youngest child, our sweet daughter, has been a bit of an enigma wrapped in a mystery since she first graced us with her presence.

Even in utero, her short little legs were confounding ultrasound techs and raising eyebrows about the accuracy of my charts (NFP: 1 Radiology: 0, BTW). Then she arrived and all was well, if not petite.

And that's pretty much been her story for the past 13 months. She's darling, and not just in an every baby sort of way, but in a stunner-who-stops-traffic kinda way. I can say that because I'm her mom, and because I have 2 other kids who, while good looking, never got us the kind of attention this girl has.

She's teeny tiny. Doll-like. The proportions of a wee American Girl doll, clad in 9 month clothing still at month 13, but perfectly balanced in terms of length vs. weight. And, every month or so since last October, we dutifully truck her down to our local children's hospital for another round of testing, bumping from one department to another. First nutrition, than orthopedics, now endocrinology.

She's had more people poke and prod her in her first year of life than most people do in a lifetime, I'd wager. But to no avail. At least, to no apparent avail.

She's teeny, she's stubbornly "alternatively mobile" (translation: no walking, standing or crawling, but girlfriend has a mean scoot), and she's utterly charming in her willingness to allow complete strangers to pick her up.

And we don't have any idea why she is the way she is.

It's been confounding and enlightening, at turns, as a parent to have no idea what is wrong, or even whether something is, in fact, actually "wrong" with her.

And it's been a humbling exercise in "what ifs" in terms of the much bigger and much scarier situations that other parents really are facing.

There's a delicate balance in motherhood between anxiety and surrender. Sometimes it really is on us to keep worrying when everyone else says to relax.

But other times, maybe more times than not, relaxing and releasing is the right way to go.

I'm naturally high strung and extremely anxious. I have grand delusions about what and whether I can manage, and I have a ludicrously inflated sense of control.

The antidote to all this, for me, has been motherhood.

No other experience thus far has come close to the gut wrenching, soul-shaking reality of recognizing my true impotence and insignificance. And I don't mean that in a self deprecating way, but in a reality-recognizing way.

Motherhood has unveiled reality to me; I'm not in control, I never was in control, and even with ready access to arguably the best medical care on the planet...there's still no guarantee of control.

Now, I can put truckloads of faith into modern medicine and research journals (and I do) while simultaneously barking up alternative trees for innovative ideas (woof, woof), but I still can't summon a diagnosis for my daughter by the force of my will.

And that has been incredibly freeing for me. To be able to truly exercise the old adage to work as if everything depended on me, and to pray as if everything depends on God. It's at once taking responsibility for what one can control while simultaneously releasing my inflated and, honestly, egomaniacal sense of control.

So efficient, Lord. I see what you did there.

And even if this latest round of blood work turns up with a big fat question mark like all the rest have, we'll be able to sleep at night knowing that we asked the questions and made the appointments, and that, if nothing else, she'll be a champion blood donor some day with nary a needle phobia to be found.

And if God sees fit to send us a label to enable us to know Evie a little better? We'll take that into consideration, too. But it won't define her, not in any real sense. Sure, it'll simplify my Google searches. But it won't change the way I have to love her, nurture her, and let God fill in for the ever-growing list of all the things about motherhood that are far above my pay grade.

Topics: Motherhood , Parenting , Spirituality

Jenny Uebbing is the content director of our marriage and family life channel, where her blog Mama Needs Coffee will be permanently hosted. She lives in Denver, CO with her family, where she writes and speaks on Church teachings on marriage, contraception, NFP and bioethics.

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