People should go to baby showers with a smile on their face. My expectation made me feel even more unraveled as I arrived at a recent shower with a bunch of burdens I had allowed to sour my mood. Attacked by the unguarded moments of a dementia-bound relative and frustrated by my inability to go shopping for the perfect baby shower gift, I zoned out on the endless chatter of a conversation dominating table mate.
I shook myself inwardly. I needed to stop thinking about myself and focus on others. I looked toward the table where the baby’s family sat. Grandma was jiggling a fussy newborn and the nervous mama hovered nearby. I wondered if they would allow me to hold the baby.
Surely everyone else wanted to hold the baby! Then again, perhaps removing the responsibility of caring for the baby would help them relax and enjoy the gifts and friends who had come to celebrate with them. I warred within myself then decided to just do it.
The Treasure of Life
When I asked if I could hold the baby, the grandmother smiled with pride and delight, easily relinquishing the small bundle. Yet she hovered nearby as the baby continued to fuss. Twenty-five years slipped away and my mind retrieved the techniques I had used to quiet my own colicky children. I jiggled the baby on her tummy. I fed her a bottle, then positioned her on my shoulder, gently rubbing her back in just the right spots. As the baby relaxed, so did mom and grandma. Soon, to the grandmother’s amazement, the infant sagged on my shoulder and slept, her small face nuzzled in my neck, for over an hour!
Several women commented that I must have a magic touch with babies. I had to laugh. I was the nervous Nellie until my children reached the age of two. There are lots of women who were far more adept with babies than me. I’m usually the last to offer to hold a baby. I wondered at my own uncharacteristic behavior.
One woman, who knew of my struggles of the past week, articulated the reason. “I think you needed that baby.” She was right. That day, I was facing the fact that one close to me was starting the process of slipping away and that one of my daughters would soon move to another country where our contact with her may be limited. That day, even though I couldn’t express it, I had a deep craving to cling to life.
And God in His goodness, settled that baby so I could cradle and soothe and treasure her for a few short moments. It was God’s little grace-gift to me, the gift of holding life close to my heart.