Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Those Baby Days

I don't know if more babies, or even another baby, are in the cards for my life.  I put my trust in God that the path I'm on, whatever that turns out to be, is more than okay.  In all things, joy. However, the absolute heartache to hold my babies and imagine this as the last set of firsts--the weight sometimes feels too much.

I felt this way with Thomas too.  I would rock him in the dark of our 1st home, with that eager blue paint of the nursery's walls closing me up. I would touch the fat of his arm, the curve of his cheek, the wisps of hair on his head as he nursed. And it was then with the still of the night, I felt if I just thought willfully and squeezed my heart in just the right way I would freeze that moment forever.  Please, God. Don't ever let me forget.

Now that he's three I know some of those moments stayed and some, sadly, have faded into a fog of happiness that ties that season together.  Despite the challenges of being a new mommy, I delighted in the purity of a baby and the joy he brought to a home to hope and see the world in new, unexpected ways.  I savored the little coos and the babbles and him reaching for a toy. I looked at him over and over again in awe. A perfect gift to treasure, to love and be loved.

But there was a tiny voice in my head nagging me to enjoy.  Fear of missing out seemed to lurk at every turn. For every joy for something new he learned to do, a ping of pain for that just finished baby stage packed up and boxed along with the clothes that no longer fit his growing body.

And now I'm here with Alistair and Emerick.  I've been able to hold them as small ones even longer.  They are at five months the weight Thomas was at two months.  Their premature bodies a token of lingering joy, something to savor amid the double duty fatigue of caring for twins. And I've got the great expanse of time with which stay-at-homes are paid too. I can't afford dining out or new jeans, but yesterday Alistair and I just sat with no agenda whatsoever but to look out the back of our home at the wet fall leaves swaying in the wind. Crimson. Bright orange. Yellow burned over the brunt of fall. And a baby content to sit on momma's thigh, happy to rest his hand in momma's palm.

And yet, all the showers missed, the dishes that have waited, the countless hours I've done nothing but "enjoy every moment" (as all young mommies are too often told), there's still a sense I've not pulled it off quite perfectly. Or it is, what I mean to say, that there is no way to freeze the loving of a baby and thaw it years later.

I think it is all too easy to look back to babyful days and sweep the sleepless nights under the memory of our hearts, the way wanting to jump in the shower or heck, just to be in the bathroom for a moment by yourself, has you practically begging for God's miraculous intervention with the ceaseless needs of little ones who want nothing less than to tug at your hands and chest all the live long day.

I twitch with a nudge of resentment when a wise woman, seasoned with baby days long past, stops in her tracks to remind me to enjoy every moment, as if to say "watch out! you're probably, most likely doing it wrong".

I think most of us are doing it right more than we think.  We take a long pause before placing our baby back in her crib, soaking in the silence and the solitude of the night's offering. We take many untold moments, phone stashed away, to stare into blue eyes, to tickle, to trace the lines of their little features so as to never, ever forget.  Please, God. Don't let me ever forget. 

That pain? That heartache? It's not a sign we didn't do our very best with the tricky balance of loving that sweet little gift...and also making sure our family didn't slide into a steady diet of fast food vs. whatever happens to be in the fridge. It's not a sign you just didn't still your heart, silence the distractions, and welcome the slow, steady special outpouring of love a slobbering chubby mini-me leaves around the house like an obstacle course leading straight to the meaning of life dressed up in the deceitful simplicity of a baby that knows nothing else but to smile back at his momma.

The passing of baby days, the looking back to what was, and even in the heartache, as is mine, of feeling it slip right through your fingers, it's painful because it is so good. It is so very good.

The pain is the flipside. The pain is the mirror. The pain is the small price for experiencing something so strikingly beautiful.

Our hearts remember little toes and lips that suck when asleep and our hearts cry out to what it was all about. I was so unworthy, but you came.  I was so clueless, but you came.  I was such a mess, but you were designed to love me anyway. 

No number of hours loving babies will ever help me recover such a loss as my unworthiness disregarded.  No amount of staring into my sons' eyes will help me overcome my gratitude for gifts not asked for, gifts unknown, gifts delivered right into the heart of my home.

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