Monday, January 10, 2011

Every Rutabaga Is Different

[The blog entry is dedicated fondly to my college advisor, Dr. Russ Camp, who taught me not only that every rutabaga is different, but who also taught me the "Linus Pauling Song", which is sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and includes the immortal lyrics, "Glory glory Linus Pauling, glory glory peptide bonding, glory glory polypeptides, that do the twist to form proteins, rah rah rah!" And a special shout-out to fellow alumni and now professors Dr. Craig Story and Dr. Dorothy Boorse, both of whom carry on in the tradition of Dr. Camp.]

When I was in college, one of my biology courses included a lab session in which we determined the enzyme content of a rutabaga. Each student was given a rutabaga to process and analyze. Naturally, at the end of the lab all the students compared their answers and immediately went into a panic because our results were all over the map. But the professor reassured us that we hadn’t necessarily screwed up the experiment; it was just that “every rutabaga is different.” And for the rest of our college careers, that phrase became our class motto. Any time something came out in a way we didn’t expect, we’d explain it by saying off-handedly, “Well, every rutabaga is different.”

I’ve been out of college for twenty years (gulp!), and I still catch myself using that phrase now and then. In fact, I’ve used it several times lately in reference to my second pregnancy. I find myself thinking, “By the time I was 9 weeks pregnant with Ryan, my pants were tight. Is something wrong with this pregnancy? No, it’s just that every rutabaga is different.” Or, “I never had trouble with food tasting funky with my last pregnancy, why do so many things taste weird this time? It must be because every rutabaga is different.”

I think the fact that symptoms can be so different from pregnancy to pregnancy is God’s way of preparing a mom for the fact that her children are likely to be completely different from each other, as well. My husband often found himself comparing our son’s development with that of his older daughter: “Rosemary used to squirm in the bathtub just like that!” or “Rosemary pulled herself up at the same age!” It bothered me sometimes, because I wanted to say to him, “He’s not Rosemary! He’s his own person!” But I realized that he was just recalling her childhood with all the joy and excitement with which we were both enjoying Ryan’s. And I have no doubt that I will do exactly the same thing with this new baby: “She’s squirming in the tub just like Ryan used to!” or “He’s pulling himself up just the same way Ryan did at that age!”

And I’ll just have to remind myself that this new baby isn’t Ryan, she’s her own person (or he’s his own person). After all, every rutabaga is different.

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