Monday, June 10, 2013

Babatize


Tony’s aunt and uncle have a cottage in the Laurentians, where we spend every Greek Easter, and some Thanksgivings. It’s full of old family photos, and the first time I was there, I picked one up, a sepia-toned shot of a bunch of Greeks in bell bottoms gathered in a church, all beaming at a baby.

“That’s Tony babatize,” his Aunt Voula informed me, as she passed by with a tray of food. I looked closer, and saw that the baby did indeed have a some pretty intense eyebrows, and a 5 o'clock shadow. And from that day on, whenever we’re invited to witness a baby get dunked in olive oil, that's what we call it: a babatize.

Today was a cousin’s baby’s babatize. Another cousin – the baby’s uncle – got married two weeks ago, and had a wedding reception in Laval. As usual, I put all my trust in my Google maps app to get us there. And just so you know, driving around Laval for an hour with Tony giving directions (“Turn right there! No, left! NO NO RIGHT!”) and Mama Greek sitting in the back seat saying why we didn’t bring a map, we should always bring a map, are we there yet?, meant that by the time we did arrive, an hour late (i.e. 15 minutes after everyone else) I ran inside, grabbed the first glass of chardonnay I saw and poured it directly down my throat, fertility acupuncturist be damned.

It also meant that today, we triple-check the directions, and arrive on time – i.e. 45 minutes before everybody else. The few people that are already there comment, as everyone has been doing these days, on Tony’s beard.

“You like?” the Greek ladies ask me, suspiciously, as if I have been waiting for just this moment to reveal the truth and say that I actually hate it, so that my husband shaves his face and all can be well in the world.   

“Yes, I do like it,” I tell them.

“She crazy,” Mama Greek announces. “I don’t know why she like, but she like.” 

Then she leans towards me. “Now you can see how baby get baptize.  Not so nice.  Maybe cry a bit.” 

I look at her, at a loss for words. I’ve been with Tony for 7 years, which means I’ve seen at least 10 baptisms. I even had to renounce Satan at one of them, where I was the godmother, and you can bet your ass Mama Greek was front and centre for that. But at that moment, today’s baby arrives, and MG sees him, and I understand. Babatize = baby, at front of church, followed by food. To Mama Greek, that’s like seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. No wonder she’s forgotten the details.

                                                      *

Despite being disrobed and immersed in something most people associate with salad dressing, Nico, the newest baby Greek, is pretty well-behaved. The priest is cool, too. He cracks a lot of jokes, does the ceremony in English, and when the photographer tells us to say cheese, he yells “SEX!" I think of how one day, I'll show this photo to Nico, and tell him that it was his babatize. He probably won't get it, but that's okay. I'll already have a reputation as his crazy aunt, who scribbles things down on a notepad during family events.

The reception is at a restaurant 3 minutes from our house. We get into the car, and from the back seat, Mama Greek asks, “You need map?”

                                                     *  

Over lunch, baby Nico is passed around from guest to guest like a potato, and eventually falls asleep, at which point it’s my turn to hold him. Over the last few days, I’ve been telling friends how well I feel like I’m doing, and how confident I am about my decision to go with Chinese medicine instead of Clomid and fertility treatments. I believe I even used the words, "I'm feeling pretty Zen about the whole thing." 

This is the kind of talk that makes God decide to bite you in the ass. 

“You’re gonna be next,” one of the Greek ladies says to the bride of two weeks ago, who is sitting next to me. 

I feel like I've been slapped in the face.

She's probably right. And after I recover from the news, I will be happy, because I like this girl, and because I will get to hold another little being like this one, curled up in a fuzzy blanket, warming up my lap. But today, hearing that comment, I don’t feel Zen, or confident, or any of that other stuff. I feel, to be totally eloquent about it, like shit.

For me, there’s such a tug-of-war with this infertility thing. I’m aware of how blessed I am, and how much I have to be thankful for, and that there are millions of people in the world who would give anything to be in my shoes. I know it’s not fair or reasonable or even wise for me to look at this baby and ask God why he’s not mine, or why I’m not the hugely pregnant woman at the next table, or why I’m not at this very moment getting the opportunity to wage war with Mama Greek about a babatize for my own baby. But I can’t help it. The question appears before I can stop it.

And today, I have no answers, or words of comfort, or a nice, neat bow to tie it up for you.  I’m tired of feeling this way, tired of even writing about it. (I feel like you must be equally tired of reading about it, but if that’s the case, hopefully you haven’t read this far.) I just sit, and look at Nico's peaceful face, and smile when the Greek ladies assure me that holding him is “good luck.” And I come home, and eat my post-babatize sugared almonds, and watch the rain. 






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