When I was in high school, we had a class called Home Economics. I'm not even sure exactly what it's called today...Family Science? Is that right? Anyway, I remember many things about Home Ec., like the fact that my kitchen partner was my boyfriend, and when we broke up I tearfully asked the teacher for a different partner. But that's a whole other story.
These days, the students are asked to carry around a life-like computerized doll for a week, to teach them what it's like to be responsible for another person. The doll cries every once and awhile, needs changing and feeding here and there, and even wakes in the night.
We didn't have those dolls in my day, so we were required to carry around eggs. With cute little faces on them. Yes, just plain old white eggs, to tuck away in our lockers and backpacks.
I still clearly remember the day Mrs. W. announced this little experiment. She talked about how each egg would come with a description, one that would let us know if our "baby" was a boy or a girl, and it's height and weight. I can remember immediately wondering what sex mine would be, and the excitement in that unknown.
Then Mrs. W. also made it clear that we were to protect and care for our "babies," making sure they survived the week, reminding us to keep them with us at all times.
In closing, our lovely teacher paused and carefully broke the news that just one of us would pull out an egg that was "different from the rest."
"Oh, I thought. I get it. A special needs egg."
Reaching my hand in the basket, I moved my fingers over the smooth shells, thinking "boy or girl, or maybe..." Then my fingers landed where I thought they should, and I pulled out the egg and it's news.
While reading my egg's description, I started thinking about what to do next.
Could I ask for another try? Could I say mine had a crack in it and choose another one, a perfect oval like the rest?
I ended up simply leaving the room with the class, thinking about how it would bode well to keep my baby's description to myself.
As we poured through the doorway and into the hall, everyone was asking around, trying to find out who had the bad luck, searching out faces for disappointment. I told a few friends that it was me with the "special" egg, and the word spread. Then a couple of boys started to tease, stealing my egg from my hands as I stood at my locker. They tossed it back and forth, moving slowly away from each other until they fumbled and dropped it.
And I felt awful.
It wasn't that I was worried about my grade, but instead, I felt bad for that egg. (Apparently I had an over-grown sensitive side even then.)
I've thought about all of that here and there over the years. Before I was married, I wondered if that egg was some kind of a sign, an omen to prepare me for my future. Then when Miles was growing in my belly, I let the questions arise more often, "Would he be like the egg in high school, a surprise in more than one way?"
When a healthy Miles was one, we found out Asher was on the way. The same questions were there, just less prominent. And this time, the questioning didn't bother me at all. Through having Miles, I had learned what a mother's love really looks like, and therefore found solace rather than questions while Asher kicked and poked in my even bigger belly.
From Miles, I had learned that it's a waste of time to wonder, because in the end, I knew that whatever baby arrived, I would love them unconditionally.
Now, when people look a little too long, squinting at Asher's head, wondering what that bump is, I remember that egg. There was a common curiosity then, and there is now.
I try not to feel annoyed or frustrated at the response, the stares and sometimes whispers. I try to understand that we are all just curious creatures, each with our own bumps, our differences.
I'm a mother, like all the rest, who loves both her boys just as they are.
I'm a woman that smiles openly at strangers, and warmly starts conversations. Sometimes I wish that those smiles would make people feel comfortable enough to ask instead of just looking too long with concern in their eyes. But people don't ask, they just look and then quickly glance away when I catch them. Because they're afraid. Afraid that even I, the mother, might feel that I reached in, took a gamble, and pulled out a bad egg.
But I don't feel that way at all.
I would never wish for a more healthy child. Because that more healthy child would not be Asher.
Asher is perfect for me, perfect for our family. We'll always watch closely, concerned over something that comes naturally to most children, but not to him. We'll be on high alert, just as millions of other parents are each day, no matter what bumps cross the surface of their perfect children.
I guess what I'm saying is that there are no bad eggs. When given the chance, we reach inside and pull forth the answers. And no matter what that piece of paper says, we're in love.