There’s nothing like holding a newborn baby.They’re absolutely unearthly, with the fragrant kiss of heaven still lingering on them.
Physically, they are helpless, vulnerable, and dependent, yet how humbling it is to hold their fragile person. To be relied upon to carry this being can bring the youngest child to an interim maturity, and a grown man to tears. A newborn embodies a bright, fearfully formed soul – unblemished by the darkness of the world.
When you’re a mother, that newborn holds even more miracles. Because regardless of the circumstances that brought them here, or how inadequate you may feel as a parent – babies still enter the world pure, and unadulterated. The newborn is the closest glimpse of perfection we get. And guess what? This near-perfect little gem ADORES you.
All of your flaws, all of your insecurities, what do they matter when you’re met with that gaze? They don’t care that you haven’t lost your baby weight, they don’t mind your coffee breath, all they want is you. To that newborn, you may as well be the rising sun.
And then it gets better.
Newborns have a habit of drawing out new sensibilities and conflicts in their parents. Feelings and responses that remained unknown to us are rapidly thrust into play as we struggle to ensure the survival of this small human. The birth of an infant launches the maternal instinct, an overpowering urge to protect, nourish, and nurture our offspring. For many, this is a lovely persona we are eager to adopt. We may have harbored delusions of snuggling our little darling in a golden lit nursery dressed in a lacy frock, while they peacefully slept in our poised embrace. Maybe this fantasy was realized, but most likely – it wasn’t. Because, unfortunately, in addition to those more flattering of qualities, caring for a newborn can also highlight our shortcomings.
The physical and mental toll taken on ourselves as we adjust to caring for a newborn can be less than picturesque. Chances are what reality offered instead was an untidy house, dirty hair, mascara that runs and babies that cry. And as if this weren’t enough to cope with, there can be a deeper turbulence stirring beneath those baggy eyes. Interior shadows that are hiding, desperate for resolution, can be suddenly exposed, and we find ourselves confronted with responses like guilt, shame, or frustration. We all have baggage, and it’s not uncommon for a new baby to reveal certain knots that need untangling.
This isn’t an accident. This relationship is a gift, because it will shed light on your darkness. God gifts children to bring us closer to him, and nothing brings us closer to Him than toil, and sacrifice.
I have memories of all my children during those glorious newborn fogs. While their head rested on my chest, I happily plotted out their upbringing. I carefully planned routines, discipline habits, and nutrition goals. I’d invented the wonderful adults I hoped they would become.
Despite all of my arrangements, I hadn’t accounted for how that newborn would mold me.
Each of my children have presented me with a new individual challenge. Every one of them has charged me to purge my less-than-pious qualities and polish those virtues yet unopened.
And it all begins with an infant.
So the gift of a newborn is more than meets the eye.
Yes, they smell divine. They have the sweetest pea-shaped toes. Their quiet squeaks compose a delightful sound effect. But they also serve a much more substantial function. They invoke new qualities and a brighter character in their parents, that may have otherwise never surfaced. A newborn, and eventually a child, will continue to smooth out the rough edges of any parent – drumming on their patience and discipline, and carving out virtues of selflessness, advocacy, and love.