As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Haven't Even Looked at You Today

I woke up today with a migraine.  I ended up sleeping late because of it, and getting a really slow start on the school day.  Mercifully it subsided by lunch time, but I spent the rest of my day playing catch-up with the school work and the housework.  My baby, at 3 1/2 months old, is an absolute gem.  He's just starting to sort out the daytime/nighttime sleeping, which is great at night but not so great in the day.  He has yet to really establish a daytime napping routine, favoring instead to nurse himself to sleep and wake promptly as soon as he hits the crib (or nurse so long that he wakes up!)  In the mornings he's still pleasant from his full night's sleep, and very easy to put down on the floor or in his jumper while I buzz about my duties. But as the day wears on the lack of sleep starts to take its toll, meaning more time spent in my arms from about suppertime on.

It's been a challenge, because right now I don't have my days at all ordered to accommodate a needy baby at supper time.  For the last year the whole day came to a head in the hours between 4 and 6.  I filled my afternoons with household duties and extra things like baking, changing beds, mopping, and counted on the time between 4 and 6 to tidy up and get supper ready.  Since school started however those hours have been difficult, and I'm feeling like I've lost my groove.  My husband wisely told me that I need to realize I just had a baby, and that I won't be able to do everything I was doing before.  And so to compensate, I'm trying to do as much as I can before that time, so I can be free to hold the baby through his most fussy time of the day.

When 4:00 pm rolled around today I was nursing the baby, and for some reason it hit me - I hadn't really looked at him all day.  He's in that sweet stage where he coos and talks and smiles really big, and most days I spend a little time here and there just talking to him, and letting him talk to me.  But with the late start to the day and my migraine, I hadn't had any of that.  He's so content in the earlier part of the day that as soon as he was fed and changed, I plopped him down so I could get back to work.  As I looked into his sleeping face I felt guilty - I started to hunger for that sweet smile, those cute little noises, like I would somehow forget them if too much time went by. I felt so sorry to have not slowed down.

And yet, as I think about what it means to love a baby, I realize that the cooing and cuddling is such a small part of it.  Anyone can love a baby who is smiling at them and telling them stories.  The real hard work of parental love is doing the things you need to get done to take care of your family.  Pushing through when you have a migraine because children still need to be fed and clothed, houses still need to be clean.  It also means freeing your schedule to be around when maybe it's not easy - like when the baby is needy and fussy.  Kissing and snuggling that screaming baby when you'd really rather be cleaning something up, or preparing a fancy supper instead of barbecue again.  That's what it means to love all of someone - to care for their whole person.

I did steal a few happy moments with my boy when he woke up.  But I also continued the day more affirmed in my job as a mother, and what it means to love your family for real.  If I stopped doing everything in pursuit only of the sweet moments, my love would not be true - it would be self-seeking.  Real love demands sacrifice, but not without reward.  The reward of that little guy smiling at me to greet my day, of children gathered around a table of (burnt, whoops!) hamburgers and instant ramen noodles, enjoying supper as a family after a full and happy day.  Of a home that is mostly in order but just disordered just enough to humble me.  Of a life so full I couldn't possibly do it without calling on the Lord, constantly.

I haven't even looked at you today, sweet boy.  And yet, you smile.  You smile because you know you are loved.  Help me to trust in that love in all that I do, so that instead of feeling divided between you and the work I need to do, I can see them as one in the same.  Gestures of love for the ones dearest to me.

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