15 April 2008

Women in combat

One of my favorite lines in CS Lewis' Till We Have Faces comes when the virgin warrior queen gets into a spitting match with the wife of her military captain. The queen, thinking the wife is essentially a soft, selfish freeloader asks the wife where her battle scars are. The wife answers, "Where a woman's are when she has borne eight children."

Don't I know it. One short babe past, we sag eternally (and worse). The nonchalance with which the birth of a child is treated has amazed me ever since I done birthed up one of my own. After recovering somewhat from the shell-shock we contracted when our first baby was born, my husband remarked that the whole thing had struck him as a real throwback. I told him that I couldn't believe anyone ever had more than one kid.

An event so inescapably visceral, bloody, painful, and violent feels weirdly out of place in this day and age: behold the power of the Word of God. Chivalry made a lot more sense to me after that first baby. Considering what I'd gone through to bring a human being into the world, holding the door for me struck me as the least some dude could do. And I'll leave the phalanxes and foxholes and IEDs to him, too.

It's no fun knowing that my husband--who, of course, still looks great--isn't coming home to the pretty young thing he married any more. But he knew young wouldn't last, and pretty, I'm told, is a matter of perspective. A wife welcoming her husband home from war is happy to have him back at all. She mourns his scars only insofar as they signify his pain. Otherwise, she finds them an endearing and admirable testament to his strength and courage. Any husband worth his salt knows the same about the mother of his children.

Onward, Christian mothers. It would take guts to enlist knowing beyond doubt that there was a Purple Heart coming your way, which is what everyone who signs up for motherhood does. As for the scars . . . I'm just trying to keep my eyes off the mirror and on my eschatological extreme makeover.

8 comments:

Tena said...

I love this post. Thanks.

utahrainbow said...

I second that! Beautiful...

Pr. H. R. said...

ὡς τρὶς ἂν παρ' ἀσπίδα
στῆναι θέλοιμ' ἂν μᾶλλον ἢ τεκεῖν ἅπαξ.

+HRC

Reb. Mary said...

"eschatological extreme makeover": my new favorite phrase

Liz said...

Speaking as someone who is having a post Iraq deployment baby, yeah, scars just show you have character enough to do something hard. Take joy in them.

Rosie said...

Great post! Sometimes I feel bad for my husband since his time with an un-scarred woman will have been so short. Then again, this is why you marry a good guy who insists you're pretty no matter what. And this is why we need not question the reports we get from the beholder whose eyes see our beauty both pre- and post- Purple Heart.

utahrainbow said...

I showed this post to my husband (an LCMS pastor), and he loved it too. He was wondering if he could somehow incorporate it into our church's May newsletter (Mother's Day and such). Firstly, would this be okay with you? And secondly, how would you like it cited, etc.?

Rebekah said...

I'm honored! :) You can just include our URL by way of citation.