I will admit it. I am not a baby person; never have been. That is not to say I did not love my babies, love being an inadequate word to describe this mother’s heart toward her own. And, of course, there is not a doubt in my mind the sun rises and sets on my grandchildren, all seven of them. It is, specifically, the baby stage with which I have had challenges; my babies, or anyone else’s.
First off, to me, newborns all bear an uneasy resemblance to a salamander. Without fail, each time I am confronted with that deeply hued, squirming, small package of new life, being expected to gush over the creature’s perfect beauty; I am struck with how amphibian-like it is. Not baby’s fault, they all come out looking like that. Over the years, I have developed the ability to suck it up, keep my observations to myself, and for Mom’s sake, express the greatest joy for this most wondrous of all babies born to humankind, because every new mom sees her offspring as just such a gift.
Fortunately, babies are born in turbo growth mode, and before too terribly long, they begin looking and behaving like actual humans. The older they get, the better for me. Again, not baby’s fault. Hard wired to do things correctly, and not particularly fond of the trial and error method of parenting or grandparenting, I cannot wait for the little person to tell me what is needed, what the problem is, how I may comfort, tend to, or otherwise successfully interact with him or her. It is the guessing, and often missing the mark phase that makes me want to hurry along the growing process.
For me, the “Oh yeah, now we’re talking!” stage begins when they do start talking. Thank you! A word, a sentence, an actual comprehensible paragraph; this just got much better. Tell me, small person, what you need or would like, and I am there for you. You name it, it’s yours for the asking. Well, that is not necessarily a promise for tangible things, but it is a promise to respond to you in the best way I know how, forever.
And so it goes, they grow, change, and develop physical and mental skills, all built upon a foundation of family love that leads to genuine relationships, forged through day to day living. In that kinship, we thrive. Not merely skimming the life surface, but really deep down, to one’s core, thrive. Parents, grandparents, children; we all move in, around, and through each other’s lives, participants in a sometimes and sometimes not so well-coreographed dance.
So, when I tell a small person that unicorns do not ride the dog, and ask another to help Batman off his chair mountain because I am making soup, and he’s been asking for assistance for several minutes; or, listen intently to the well thought out reason why I have grey hair: “One day you had a birthday, and now you’re really old”, and the discovery of what wind is: “It’s all the air people blow”, and a similarity is drawn between my feet and a dinosaur’s; I am dancing. Yes, I dance, too, after all is said and done at the end of a day when sweet voices call out to me from bedrooms, “Good night, Stinky Winky, we love you.” Oh yes, it’s a beautiful dance, and I can’t wait for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow; each one bringing us a clearer view of who we are in our journey.