I’ve been watching babies lately, watching mama’s snuggling little bodies, smelling sweet necks. I love babies. I love to sway and rock and hold. My immediate circle is filled with big children who run, tell stories, make things. They bring joy but don’t want to be sniffed or swayed. In three days my grandson will graduate from preschool, leaving behind teachers who love him. They have nurtured him, understood tough times, found his strengths. In three months he will spend full days away from me, with a new teacher and many, many more children. He is no longer a baby who relies on me for everything, he can get his own milk. Having let go before with my own children, I know what this feels like. But this is my last letting go, the final time I will send a child off to school for the first time. I was blessed to have this second time around, as exhausting as it has been to parent as a late 40-early 50 year old. I look at him and still see the baby I rocked, the one I sang to. I see that in his father as well, his aunt. Maybe I just want a do-over with those two. Too many mistakes, far too many regrets.
The reality is that I do have a new life to nurture, one to protect and love. I can teach this new baby to walk and talk, to take chances and be nice. This one though comes with a history, not a clean slate. My baby, me, gets to learn to depend on others, accept love, seek help, trust. Accepting God’s grace, truly finding His restorative joy in this fresh life, is every bit as challenging as midnight feedings. Remembering that each new day is a gift to start over and God doesn’t keep track of our mistakes even if others do, means I get to take this gift of time, days free from caring for others and begin to care for me. Becoming self-centered doesn’t mean I have to be selfish. My long neglected soul, much like an extended pregnancy, is anxiously awaiting this birth. Oh how I love babies. Time to let myself be born.