Space to Grow

Last night some ladies from church came over to visit me. They knocked on the door, I opened it and invited them in. As they entered, one of them looked at my tummy and said, “Your tummy is big!”

Then she poked it. She poked my tummy.

And I thought, you did not just poke my tummy.

When she poked me/Baby, I did tilt my tummy back  just a little to reestablish space so that she wouldn’t be touching me anymore.

Now, she doesn’t know how I feel about this odd social … custom? breach? She doesn’t know that I prefer people to ask first and not just react to seeing my tummy and reflexively touch it. And she may have come from a family or culture that’s very touchy when it comes to strangers or people who aren’t very emotionally close, so I didn’t say anything. I grew up in the South where people hug each other all the time, sometimes for no reason. Whenever my husband meets my friends for the first time down there they always give him a hug. I would expect nothing less. So I can definitely appreciate friendly affection.

My irritation was brief also because I could see how excited this lady was. I didn’t slap her hand away. I didn’t take her next door to say hi and touch the non-pregnant neighbor’s tummy. I let it go because in the grand scheme of things she is very nice and we go to church together and she does want to be my friend.

The three of us had a rather pleasant visit. We covered a variety of subjects, and the same lady who poked my tummy asked how many kids I wanted.

I thought for a few seconds before saying, “Two.”

She replied, “Oh, that’s not enough! You should have more.”

Then I thought, this half-hour is such an interesting experience.

It’s interesting not because it’s uncommon. People touch other people’s pregnant tummies all the time. Sometimes in the culture of the Church people equate number of children with status or accomplishment. Or something else entirely. Maybe I should have asked this lady what it means for her to have a lot of children. (She wants to have eight. The three of us are all relative newlyweds.) Perhaps it means completely different things to us, which is totally okay. I respect that.

I wish I would have felt a similar respect towards me, though. But I get that’s not a realistic thing to expect from someone if she doesn’t know what the expectation is, much less how to meet it. So I have to be better at expressing my feelings/setting limits/establishing expectations in addition to being more understanding. I can always be better.

I have the strangest feeling that this can apply especially to motherhood.

No judgments.

Isn’t America Also About Second Chances?

Set my naturalization aside. That’s all fine and good; everything’s on schedule. Some unfortunate circumstances have come up for a fellow member of my ward, though. I believe our efforts can make a difference. Focus. Unite. This is critical.

Today at church we received this announcement on a flyer:

Our fellow ward member, Gustavo Aguilar, was detained by immigration agents on Tuesday despite the best efforts of his lawyer to keep him free. His situation is urgent – he could be deported at any time.

Jen [his wife] and Gustavo are fighting to keep him here by trying to get his pre-baptism drug conviction overturned. You can read details about this fight and and what they have done on their blog at:

At the suggestion of his lawyer, we are trying to get local politicians to call the Queens DA and express interest in Gustavo’s case and in a favorable outcome. While some politicians have said that they would call, none have done so yet, probably because they don’t see it as urgent or as important to very many of their constituents.

We would like to change their minds – to convince them that Gustavo’s case is worth their time and effort. To do so, we need your help.

Could you please place a call to the following politicians in the next few days and ask them to help? Gustavo could be deported almost at any time, it is important that these calls be made as soon as possible. Instructions on what to say follow this list.

City Council: Miguel Martinez
–917-521-1293 . 601 W 174th Street Ste 1A

NY Assembly: Adriano Espaillat
–212-544-2278 . 210 Sherman Ave, Ste A

NY State Sen: Eric T. Schneiderman
–212-928-5578 . 80 Bennett Ave., Ground

US Congress: Charles B. Rangel
–212-663-3900 . 163 W 125th St., Ste 737

Manhattan Borough Pres: Scott Stringer
212-669-8300 . 1 Center St. 19th Floor

1. Review the website above so you understand the situation.

2. Call the offices of at least one (if not all) of the above and ask to speak with a constituent  services representative.

3. Tell them you would like the politician’s support in the case of Gustavo Aguilar. We want the politician to call the Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown or Assistant DA Susan Sullivan and ask them to agree to the motion to vacate Gustavo’s conviction.

4. Mention your relationship to Jen and Gustavo, tell how much he would be mised if deported and how Gustavo is now the kind of citizen we need in the US and New York.

5. If they need further information about the case, refer them to Gustavo’s criminal lawyer, Labe Richman – 212-227-1914.

Gustavo is a very nice, friendly, funny, and kind man. He’s a hard worker. He’s loving and generous, and he takes nothing for granted. There is no one who wouldn’t benefit from having Gustavo as a friend. If it’s the Lord’s will he be deported, I can accept that, and it would be very sad, but I want to be able to say I did everything I could to help him. Would you help him, too?

We can do this.

Read the blog.

Make the calls. Tuesday, since tomorrow’s a holiday.

Pray like crazy.

Spread the word.