My very first post in this space I called Baby Fever. I wrote when it seemed half of my friends were having babies. I wrote remembering a little longingly the days when we loved a newborn, remembering the gifts a newborn brings with him. And here I am, a year and a half later, two months on this side of a birth. Here I am, with arms and a heart so full.
But the gifts are fleeting. Unspeakably beautiful, but here and gone so quickly. I will never again get to feel the weight of his little body the way it fit so small and close into the crook of my arm like it did on those first days. I won’t see again his little round face with the slate blue eyes that peeked open only now and then. His newborn smell, the velvet hair on his cheeks, his dreamy smiles as he fell asleep after he ate, those were gifts given for just a short time.
And there was the gift of us being remade as we welcomed him. Our hearts were split wide open by the work and pain and wonder of birth and nothing was the same. We saw the world with new eyes those first fragile days. Sleep-deprived eyes, yes, but still, colors were brighter, friends more precious, home more sacred, and love more fierce and tender all at once. Joy was deep and our hearts expanded as we received it.
And in the following weeks I grew wistful. I wanted to freeze that joy, to keep those moments. It was so achingly beautiful. I hadn’t known if I would ever have another baby. And I had forgotten (or maybe never quite known) that I could love one so deeply. But the days slipped through my hands and I let them fall, because somewhere I knew that joy can’t be held, it can only be received; it can’t be preserved, it can only be tasted.
Life is now; drink deeply of your moments. Notice, savor. It’s not only babies that grow and leave their old selves behind. My daughter is in the beautifully awkward stage of growing adult teeth into a child’s mouth. The gaps and half teeth mark her first grade self, the way she dances on lengthening legs and how she fills notebook pages with stories of misspelled words and big ideas and the way she clings to me and claims independence by turns. My son is five. I watch him sing lullabies to his baby brother; I marvel at his tenacity at throwing and catching anything that can be thrown and caught; and I notice the way he sounds out words with such persistence and such triumph. These moments are now. Next week, next month, and certainly next year my children will have grown into new stages.
All our people move and grow as they live. I watch my husband as he loves our newborn so well. I forgot how amazing he is with babies. I see him play basketball with our five year old, and learn how to re-glaze window panes on our old house. I notice the few gray hairs on his temple and love them, because he is wise and it’s showing. I see friends as they choose marriage, start new jobs, and welcome babies. We share coffee and conversation over baskets of clean laundry and around children. We hold hands and bow our heads together as we sit around a table filled with homemade food and more plates than readily fit. This is now. This is beautiful.
Life is always now and always new. Don’t miss the beauty of these moments because they feel normal. Don’t miss the joy of newness and growth because it comes so slowly. Don’t forget that God gives himself to us through the gifts of our ordinary days.
What gifts are you noticing these weeks? What are you watching, holding, and letting go?