Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The tale of the little acts of love


There were once a man who was expecting his first child with his fisherman wife.
As his wife was growing big he grew to love putting his hands on her belly and feel the baby move inside. He prepared healthy meals  for his wife when she came back from a fishing trip and snacks to take on the boat. He tried to make life as easy as possible at home so she could rest.
But in spite of all his efforts there were still some things that he had not foreseen and could not understand. His wife’s tastes had changed with the pregnancy and very often she would pick at the meals he had cooked for her, removing things she did not like anymore. Sometimes she got very tired for no particular reason but she could not get the rest she needed. She would suddenly cry for sheer tiredness from the abundance of sensations and feelings brought on by the pregnancy. Her husband felt very helpless and left out.
In the last term of the pregnancy she stopped going out on the boat and the husband wanted very much to get everything ready for the arrival of the baby. But his wife was scared to bring bad luck on them and lose the baby if they did so. Her fear was actually so great that she could not even bring herself to talk to her husband about it. Instead she just delayed or refused anything he wanted to do.
One day the wife had a fall in the stairs and got very afraid indeed that the baby had suffered from it. The midwife reassured her, listening to the baby’s strong heartbeat and the baby was moving in abundance, reassuring her further. She did not tell her husband, who was at work, so as not to worry him. But when he came home that night with some clothes for the baby she got so upset that he had to take them back the following day. Her husband felt helpless and very much left out.

Finally the day of the birth arrived. They had a healthy and beautiful baby girl and all the difficulties of the previous months were forgotten in this new joy.
The mother was breastfeeding her little baby girl and it seemed to take a lot of the day. The Father wouldn’t have wanted anything more than being able to feed his baby girl as well. He asked his wife to milk her breasts to fill up a bottle so he could give it to their baby. The Mother said that she could not do it before a while as her baby needed to be on the breast often so she, the Mother, would have plenty of milk. And the mother did not want her baby to have a bottle that was too easy to drink and could discourage the little girl to take the breast. The Father just heard that she did not want him to help and her felt very much left out.
The Mother offered him to bath the baby or rock her to sleep, but what he wanted was to experience the pure love he read on his wife’s face when she was feeding their baby. If he had looked more closely he would have seen that love in many other things the mother did. But somehow all the times he head felt left out and never said anything had put a veil over his eyes.

When the baby was three months old the Mother had to go back on the boat. She milked her breasts so the Father could feed the baby while she was away. The husband was sad to see his wife go and suddenly felt how much their baby needed her mother and how nice it was to see them together. He watched his wife go with his heart heavy. She had been gone for six hours and was due home soon when a man came knocking at their door. The Mother's boat, herself and her crew had gone missing...
The Father thought with alarm that he did not have anymore milk to give their daughter. He quickly sent for a wet nurse.
A good woman came to feed the baby while the Father did everything else for his daughter. That is how in his grief for his missing wife the Father lost the veil that was covering his eyes. He finally saw how much love he could give his baby in all the little things he did for her. He bathed her and dried her carefully so her skin would not get sore. If it got sore he put a special ointment on it. When she cried he kissed away her tears and sang to her. He changed her clothes when she soiled herself and tickled her toes. He looked deep into her eyes when he rocked her to sleep. He dressed her every morning, careful of not trapping her fingers in her clothes. He exhausted himself being silly so she would give him a smile. He sat with his baby daughter sleeping in his arms, keeping her warm and safe and listening to her breathing. He got up in the night to check that she was not too hot or too cold. If she woke up  he rocked her back to sleep. He tidied up the house or cooked his dinner holding his baby in his arms so she would not feel lonely. And not once, never, did he feed her with a bottle after his wife had gone missing.
He showed her all the places he loved in their village. He showed her the sea that her Mother loved so much and wondered if she would come back.

A week went by in that fashion, the Father’s love for his baby growing more every day. On the morning of the eighth day a man knocked on the door. The Mother, her boat and her crew had been found, stranded on an island of rocks. They were all well. The Father wept for joy and did a dance with his baby daughter, telling her how her mother was soon coming home.

When the Mother came home, the Father saw that her breasts were still full of milk for her baby. He gave the baby to her mother so she could feed her and in his wife’s and daughter’s eyes he could read the same deep love that he had felt, doing for his baby all the little acts of love.

Copyright 2012 Mother Goutte

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