Sometimes mothers feel ill-equipped to discussed certain topics with their little girls. My mom was a genius at so many things, and she could find whatever she didn’t know in the library. Still, for some reason she decided to let the professionals tell her oldest three daughters the facts of life. That’s how Deanna, Bonita, and I ended up in a Claire Elizabeth Class, while a prim lady in Sunday clothes pointed to abstract drawings and explained how we all got here.
I never asked where babies came from; I already knew. God gave babies out. He made them up a long time ago and kept them floating on clouds up there in heaven until he found just the right parents. Sometimes he asked first, like with Mary the mother of Jesus, sometimes he just surprised women. He had to search pretty hard for somebody without any sin to be Jesus’s mother. Mary was super young and had no husband or kids yet, which might have helped her stay free from sin. Anyways, God asked Mary if she wanted to be his son’s mother. That was for sure one of those questions that you only answer one way, ’cause nobody says ‘no’ to God without some big consequences, like getting swallowed by a whale, or turned into a pillar of salt.
Most of the time women only got babies after they have a husband. I read in a magazine that sometimes teenagers got babies, and more black teenagers than white teenagers got babies. Wow! I wondered how come God found black girls so special he gave them babies with no husbands. Maybe black girls sinned less. I was never gonna get a baby ’cause for one thing I had so many sins I had to go to Confession every Saturday, and for another thing I was going to be a nun. Nuns are off the baby list. God never gives nuns babies, even though nuns married the Church and never sinned, they just teach kids about sin and going to hell or purgatory unless you said a Sincere Act of Contrition or got martyred. Martyrs get a free pass to heaven.
Lots of people ask God for babies. Mom prayed and prayed for a baby before she had any. Dr. Reaghan told her she’d never have any babies ’cause she was just like a little girl inside and no babies could grow there. For sure God answers prayers ’cause he gave Mom a baby, then more babies kept coming without any more prayers. That sure was a joke on Dr. Reaghan. Eight more babies without asking. Maybe God said, “Hey, that looks like a fun place for a new baby,” and sent one more down, without noticing that some people had no babies.
I knew babies grew inside mothers. I’d be pretty daft to miss that one. I never thought about how they got in there, ’cause there’s no explaining miracles or how God works. You just have to trust and have faith. Well, that Claire Elizabeth Class changed all that. Man-o-man, God sure works in mysterious ways.
After the nice lady explained everything to me and Deanna and Bonita and Mom, she asked if anybody had any questions. Heck yeah! I had a ton of questions. My had shot right up there; I never was afraid to ask questions. “How do those parts get together?” Deanna slid down in her chair and wrapped her arms across her chest and studied her saddle shoes to see if they had just the right amount of scuff marks. That’s important, ’cause too white was uncool, but too scuffed was messy. I was too sloppy for saddle shoes. Bonita sat up tall, ’cause she wanted to know, same as me, but she was a more of a scaredy-cat than me, so she let me ask the questions. That’s how it works when you have a best friend sister. Bonita was better at getting her way with Dad, so I let her do the asking then. I was better at getting information.
The nice lady pointed to the pictures and told us what parts did what. I understood that part, so up went my hand again. “How do all those parts get together?” That’s what I wanted to know. The nice lady talked some more, but failed to answer my question. “How?” I asked again.
“By hugging and being close,” the nice lady said, then she wrapped her arms around her own waist and pressed her lips together in that way that says ‘that’s all the questions I’m answering’, even though her lips said, “Any other questions?” No more hands went up. I tipped my head to one side and looked at the pictures again. Hmmm… I was gonna have to do some studying on my own, ’cause for some reason this nice lady was sick of my questions or maybe she really wasn’t sure herself. Sometimes that happened with teachers.
I did figure everything out, ’cause that year in science class teacher told us all about plants and animals, and animals come in fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. People are mammals and all mammals had things in common like having hair and giving birth and feeding babies with milk. I had all sorts of mammals around the farm to study: cats, dogs, cows, pigs. I figured a whole bunch of stuff out about people by studying those mammals. Yup. God really does work in mysterious ways.
Bonita hated science, so I had to help her out; she was still stuck back in the ‘hugging and being close’ explanation from that nice lady in the Claire Elizabeth Class, and she thought maybe her friend would get pregnant from kissing her boyfriend in the school hall. Bonita appreciated my help less than I expected, ’cause I just thought the whole thing was so darned interesting and complicated and who but God could think up such a plan. Well, let me just say, this is on Bonita’s list of things for which she never forgave me.
Many years have passed since the Claire Elizabeth Classes, but one thing hasn’t changed: Life is pretty darned mysterious and awesome, even if that life is only the one-celled variety. Once someone asked me how I can be a scientist and still believe in God. Life really is so intricately complex it still seems like a miracle to me. And we are all so wonderfully and uniquely created. I have no problem with evolution and creation co-existing. All it takes is some trust and a little faith.