As I write this, it is about three months since I gave birth to my first baby, Hudson. I feel that I am still emerging from what I like to call, “Babyland.” It’s a twilight zone where days and nights fuse into one, where sleep is a coveted and little-known resource, where there is little time for anything other than feeding, changing, rocking, cuddling, and repeating that process. I wrote on my Facebook wall, “It amazes me that one tiny, adorable being can be so very high maintenance”.
I always wondered why people said newborns were so time-intensive when all they do is sleep, eat, and poop. Now I get it - firsthand. But Babyland is also a place where there is a lot to learn.
Lesson 1: The hardest things we do are often the most rewarding.
Everything in life is such a mixed bag. In the past few months, I have experienced the deepest joy, and I have also been at my wit’s end. As my dad once told me, the two best things in his life have also been the most challenging: parenting and marriage. When I am covered in poop, haven’t had a good sleep in days, awakened to projectile baby vomit in my face (yes, that actually happened), or when I am exhausted and can’t think straight, when breastfeeding isn’t going well, one smile from my baby can make it all feelworthwhile. Better yet, a laugh - a new trick Hudson has learned - can melt my heart and override all of the frustration.
Lesson 2: The way I love this baby is a glimpse of God’s unconditional love for us. <<Click to Tweet
I am amazed at how much love I can have for this tiny being. Again, babies initially don’t do a whole lot, but I am still enraptured by my son. I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for us, regardless of what we do (or don’t do). In the love that I have for this baby, in spite of his inability to do anything for me, I can more deeply understand God’s love for me. I pray that the love Hudson’s family has for him will be a foundation for him, and that in turn, he will learn of God’s love for him, which (unlike our flawed human love) is perfect. I pray that he will grow to let Love be the foundation of all he does, and who he is.
Lesson 3: The way a newborn baby trusts his caregivers mirrors how we should trust God.
Speaking of love, regardless of what we do or don’t do, this little one seems to love me even though I am a first-time parent and often don’t know what I am doing! It is a lesson in trust. He trusts that he will be fed, clothed, cuddled, and loved. Imagine if we trusted God like a newborn baby trusts the adults around him.
Lesson 4: I am more aware of suffering around the world, and feel more of an urgency to make the world a better place.
When I look at Hudson, and the ways he is loved and cared for by his parents and so many others, I am painfully aware of babies who aren’t as loved or provided for. I think of babies born to parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have a mental illnesses that make it hard to care for them. I am aware of babies in countries where there is not enough to eat or drink, or inadequate shelter. I imagine babies whose parents have abandoned them for one reason or another. Holding, rocking, and nursing Hudson gives me ample opportunity to be mindful and pray for these babies born all around the world. But it also makes me want to be a part of God’s redemption of such situations.
I also think a lot of Hudson’s future and what kind of world he will grow up in. My concern for the ways we are abusing the earth becomes even more urgent.. Will he be able to enjoy nature the way that we are able to now, or will we continue our destruction until there is little left to enjoy, and in turn, endanger ourselves? My impetus for being involved in caring for creation is only increased, and I hope to raise him to love God’s creation as well.
Lesson 5: I am thankful for every day, for the slow moments, and I cherish them.
While I worry sometimes about the future, and pray that the concern propels me to action. In fussy moments, sometimes all I can do is hold Hudson, love him, and be patient. Nursing is a good practice in mindfulness, as it makes me pay attention to each tiny feature of my little one, and to take it slow. Each day, each week, each month, he changes so much. It makes me more mindful of enjoying the present - who he is and where he is right now. There is no point in rushing into the future. I try to “Be here now,” as my mom has often said. Life is precious, and this baby gives me a new awareness for how precious it really is.
Micalagh Beckwith Moritz is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She is passionate about caring for the environment, experiencing new cultures, and also important, eating cheese. She currently resides in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.