“Mom, did I come and visit you guys at your old house?” Max asks as he munches on a snap pea. We are sitting at the table finishing dinner.
“What do you mean?” I ask. He’s talking about the house Scott and I lived in before we had kids.
“Oh—are you talking about what daddy said the other day? That we were so glad you came to be with us?”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s what I mean. Are you glad I came to visit you?”
“We sure are,” Scott says. “We’re really glad you came to live with us.”
I decide to seize the dinnertime moment for a little spiritual inquisition.
“Do you know where were you before you came to live with us?” I ask Max, putting my fork down.
Max looks at me for a moment, then a big smile lifts his face. “In your belly!” He looks proud, like a contestant on a game show who got the right answer.
I press a bit further. “Do you know where you were before you were in my belly?”
I often look at my children and say, “Where did you guys come from?” I say it with a laugh, as if the two of them just popped up in my living room, a surprise. Because a lot of the time that’s what it feels like. It used to just be Scott and I. Now there are these two little ones, with their almond-shaped blue eyes, long lashes and light skin. Sometimes I wonder if we kept having babies, if they’d all look like Max and Violet. Or if somewhere in the mix, we’d get one with my olive skin and dark eyes.
But beyond the variables of genetics, eggs and sperm lying dormant; where were they before that? Where were their spirits?
When I was pregnant with Max, I knew he was a boy, long before the ultrasound confirmed this fact. And he felt like a Max. I knew that the color green would suit him. And I felt something else, something I now believe was his strong will. He used to roll around in my belly towards the end of my pregnancy, making my stomach ripple, jarring my organs. I remember his powerful kicks and jabs just as I was trying to settle into sleep. “You’re not too little for a spanking,” Scott used to joke to the wild creature living in my body.
While I was carrying Violet, I felt less of her. Or perhaps I was just so busy with Max and his strong will that I didn’t have time to ponder her nature as much. Once in awhile, while trying to pick a name for her, I’d place my palm over my belly. The word light popped into my head. And she is, indeed, a lighthearted being. Her eyes glitter. She laughs easily and often.
So where was Max’s will, Violet’s light, before they were in my belly? They are both just so here, I find it difficult to grasp that before they were conceived, they didn’t exist.
I’ve heard the philosophy that our children choose us before they’re conceived. This probably doesn’t sit well for those with horrific childhoods and broken parents. But I wonder sometimes. Did their spirits circle us in the night, watching, waiting? Did they live in other bodies, other lives before this one?
What do you think?