Sunday, October 19, 2014

Holy Diaper Changing - Day 14

My husband is a really great guy.  He's washing dishes right now so I can write this for you.  One of the super great things about him is how much he loves babies.   If there were no constraints on our time, money or energy.....we would have our own TV show and way more than 8 kids living in this house.  Did I tell you he loves babies??!

When he visits you at the hospital and asks to hold your fresh-from-heaven's not to be polite or because that's what pastors do when they visit.  He holds that baby because he loves the way it feels in his arms.  And then he comes home and tells me about how great your baby is.  The only thing he loves more than holding your babies, is holding OUR babies. 

A constant refrain in our home has been, "Let's have one more baby....our kids are so great....who wouldn't want to do this one more time?"  Depending on my current state of overwhelmedness I would either roll my eyes, laugh and talk about how great our kids are, or wistfully dream about the next baby.  My overwhelmed meter remained unusually high for a couple years in a row after our 5th baby was born....not because of any extra naughtiness of the kids so much as just from the sheer physical work of having 5 kids that young.  I just couldn't think beyond how tired I was.

Until one day.

He said, "Hey, what do you think about having another baby."  I opened my mouth for my usual response and realized there wasn't any reason to say "no" forming on my lips this time.

"Curious," I thought.  "Where'd that come from?"

My inner explorations revealed a couple recently turned corners in my life.  I once again had energy in reserve, I wasn't running on empty.  Even just having the energy to consider beginning a new endeavor told me something about where I was emotionally.  The other turned corner was my age....40 was looming on the horizon.  I had always felt like time was unlimited and there would be infinite future chances to answer "yes" to Scott's question.  Suddenly that felt different to me and I realized that there would be one decision that would be the last decision...the final  chance to say "yes" and do it again.

We felt crazy planning our 6th baby.  My sister called it lavish.  She was right.

We were blessed with Ginger Leigh Florida.  You can read her story here.

It had been 5 years since our last baby.....5 years since those tiny baby clothes, middle of the night feedings, diapers diapers and more diapers.  Having a baby with older kids at home unexpectedly multiplied the awesomeness of bringing her home.  And then everybody went back to work and school...and it was just me at home with Ginger.

She was a great baby and I really enjoyed every moment with her.  But she demanded every moment.  I don't know how it happened, since this was my 6th baby, but I was surprised by how much TIME it took every day to care for a baby!  Somehow my pregnancy brain had deluded me into thinking that with  just a baby (pshaw) at home during the days I would have all kinds of extra time to start new projects and accomplish new things.  I actually had a stack of grad school catalogs on the coffee table still, thinking that I could probably take online classes while the baby was napping.

A couple of weeks after Ginger's birth I got a phone call.  It was one of those moments that shifted my perspective in a profound and permanent way.

My friend and I chatted about our kids and the new baby.  After a few minutes of small talk she asked me how it was going having a baby was I feeling about my days?  And I started to complain.  I told her that I felt like I could get NOTHING done!  I had so many goals and plans and was frustrated that all I could manage to get done before the school kids got home was a shower, feed the baby, diaper the baby, feed the baby again and diaper her again.   I'm sure that I couched my complaints in words about how great Ginger was, because I was really in love with her.

My friend had older children who were friends with my boys and also an adopted Chinese daughter who had been home for a couple of years.  Her response spoke deeply to me.

"Oh are doing such important work.  Every diaper you change, every bath you give.....every little thing you do is huge!  It's's teaching her to love."

Those words gave such meaning to my days and settled my soul for my new season with a newborn.  It was like she had peeled back a layer of life to expose for me the purpose behind God's design of a Momma caring for her tiny baby.  Each time I bathed her and smoothed lotion on her sweet baby skin I was teaching her about loving touch.  Every diaper that needed to be changed proved to her that I would take care of her needs.  When I fed Ginger her little soul was also fed with security and confidence that I would always be there.  Her forever self was forming the ability to love and be loved through all the small things that we were doing together each day.  Seeing moments this way made me realize what a big thing we were doing with our small days.

I'm so thankful for that phone call and for the words my friends spoke.  I threw the grad school catalogs away and gave myself permission to pare my "to do" list down to the really important thing.....caring for my baby.  And I was satisfied.

So Mommas, as you bring that little baby home so fresh from the hospital, look deeply into their eyes and see their biggest need.  See past the diaper changes and the feedings, see beyond the laundry and the sleepless nights. Soak up the long evenings with a fussy baby who can't be happy anywhere but your arms knowing that you are settling something deep in their souls with your attention and care. 

 Your baby's insides are wet cement that are being pressed and imprinted, little by little, with your care and attention.  The impressions you are making will harden into a firm understanding of what love feels like that they will carry forever.

You are doing important work Every.  Single.  Day.  
It is deep work.  
It is life-changing work.  
Never underestimate the power of a "to-do" list that contains only diapers, feedings....and if you're lucky, a shower.

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