It seems ridiculous now, but before my godchild was born, I was genuinely worried that I would hate him.
He wasn't my godchild then, of course. He was the imminent spawn of two of my best friends, and while I was legitimately excited for them, I also had a lot of concerns. I'd never been around babies much before, and what I knew about them didn't sound promising. They cried a lot. They pooped a lot. They consumed their parents' time, thoughts, and lives. One time when I was nine I held my neighbor's newborn and accidentally hit her head against the edge of the dining room table, and I was terrified of ever holding a baby again in case I broke it. My friends would be obsessed with their youngling, and I would be unable to participate. Was this tiny human going to ruin two of the best friendships I've ever had?
A week or two before the baby's birth, I was a jerk to my friends. It wasn't premeditated jerkiness – it was just thoughtlessly being a shitty friend – but it's the last thing you need when you're freaking out about your first child's impending entrance to the world. Subconsciously, I think it was a preemptive strike against the baby: you're going to ruin my friendship? Screw you, I'll ruin it on my terms. I'd also had more than enough of being around pregnant people, which is a massive dysphoria trigger for me. Regardless of my reasons, it was a lousy thing to do.
So I was doubly nervous as I made my way to the hospital on December 11th. Not only was I going to meet a day-old newborn who, as far as I could tell from the Facebook pictures, looked and smelled and sounded exactly as bad as any other day-old newborn, but there was also the lingering tension of my as-yet-unatoned-for shitty behavior.
I was lucky. I got two reconciliations that day. The first was apology and forgiveness over lunch with the baby's father. The second was the moment I took that tiny, sleeping person in my arms.
I hate to be such a cliché, but meeting the person who would be my godchild really did change everything. Leaving the hospital, I felt as though the whole world was a little sparklier, a little more special, a little more awe-inspiring. Before long, I was doing all the things I swore I'd never do: changing diapers, shrugging off spit-up, talking incessantly about the wondrousness of the baby. The most amazing thing to me is just how much I love him.
I've spent much of the past year contemplating this love. It's incredible, and it's frightening. I would throw myself under a bus for my godchild in a heartbeat. I would wrestle spiders for him. I would forgive him if he murdered my whole family in front of my eyes. My love for him is vast, and it is unconditional, and it makes no sense. Why do I love him so? What has he done to merit such love? The answer: nothing, and because he has done nothing to earn my love, there is nothing in all of creation that can separate him from it.
I believe strongly that, in the words of Les Mis, “to love another person is to see the face of God.” I believe that anyone who teaches you a new way to love is revealing to you another glimpse, another facet, of the divine. My godchild has taught me something I didn't know about grace: love that is unearned, unconditional, yet in no way cheap.
I had no idea I was capable of a love like this, and I believe that it is the work of God within me. My love for my godchild has opened me to new loves I had thought beyond me, manifest most recently in romantic love and in the first steps of self-reconciliation. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have denied that I had the capacity for godparental love, romantic love, or self-reconciliation, but all of these loves are or will be part of the ever-expanding, dizzyingly vast cosmic Love I have only just begun to explore.
Happy birthday, Jay. I love you with all the love God has graced me to give.