I fear I’ve been too cynical and too grumpy lately as I’ve complained about our lack of sleep, about not being a big fan of newborn babies, about waiting for these difficult months to pass. Some friends respond by saying they appreciate my honesty because many moms don’t talk about the hard parts of motherhood. Maybe I’m honest, and I certainly hope people feel safe to be honest in conversations with me, but I also think I’m just giving into the grump a little too often. I’ve been following the story of this family from Charleston who are friends of friends. As I read this mother’s amazing praise and joy in the midst of her son’s brand new fight against cancer, I am humbled. Maybe I do paint a sometimes honest picture of motherhood that might free some sisters from feeling the pressures of being June Cleaver, but I also think it’s easy (for me) to turn the corner into flat out whining.
So I’ve been thinking about a post on what I do love about a newborn baby. In no particular order, and rather stream-of-consciousness, here are some positives about this life swaddled next to me.
1. The smell. I have said before that newborns come out smelling like doughnuts and heaven. I love to sniff her head and breathe in that skin as deeply as I can.
2. The fat rolls. When else in life can you ever celebrate fat rolls like you can with a newborn. Especially as a breast-feeding mom (not trying to stir up that discussion or hold myself up as higher or better), there is a real pride and amazement in those fat rolls. I feel like a partner in creation as my body sustains and nourishes another.
3. The soft part of the neck, almost to the shoulder. Great for kissing and making squirty noises on.
4. Obvious: smiles. They’re addictive, and they really are rewarding. It’s such an encouragement to see the connection she’s making as she figures out who I am and is delighted to see me. Even with a three-year-old this is already not always the response, and I know it will only continue to get more complicated. So it’s lovely to have this little warm one who delights in me, if only for a moment.
5. Finger dimples. This kind of goes with fat rolls. The little dimples that appear as those hands fill out. Yum.
6. A sleeping baby on my chest. While I do look forward to putting both children to bed in their own rooms while my husband and I actually get to spend time together once again…it is so sweet and so fleeting to have that little curled up body mold against mine.
7. Playing dress up. This part can be a bit tricky as it moves close to the border of presenting a false self, but with the right motives and pure intentions, it is such fun to dress a sweet smelling, smiling little one to share with the world.
Seven is one of those biblical numbers, so I guess it’s okay to just end things there. Being sleepy all of the time is not fun, and I do look forward to our life settling into a new normal one day. But I don’t want to wish these days away just to get to the next one. And I am amazed by the strong mom in Charleston who is daily finding reasons to praise God rather than sink into darkness. I have thought of her often in the night when I want to punch something because I can’t get more than two hours of sleep. I have no reason for whining and only reason for gratitude. These days are fleeting, and the sweet list above is reason enough to settle in and enjoy this.