We brought home a beautiful baby boy three months ago. And I’ve learned a few things, things I think translate to other parts of life. Here they are, in no particular order:
1) Walking is good for your health. In order to give my wife breaks, so she could sleep uninterrupted, we walked. Or I walked. The kid strolled and inevitably slept. As long as he slept, I kept walking. Our longest stroll was 2.5 hours. And I’ve lost 13 lbs this year since my annual checkup in January.
2) Church people like to cook. And I’m glad to say that the good folks at New Community can cook. You know that everybody who enjoys cooking is not necessarily qualified for the work. We received great help when the weeks worth of meals were scheduled. And when Mother Cantrell supplied us with all that chicken and macaroni and green beans too. It was one thing we didn’t have to worry about and it was also something to look forward to. Those folks reminded me that including others in your life, even when they’re doing specific things, leaves you filled and not empty and thankful.
3) I care more about what other people think than I thought. I tell my son when he’s going through one of his I’m hungry fits to stamp down the noise. I tell him we have neighbors and that he can be heard down the hall and at the elevator. Does he listen? Of course not. He can’t hear me through the screams. And what do I think of? I think of those neighbors and how they’re saying to themselves “What’s up with the Washingtons? Don’t they know what they’re doing?” And I answer the imaginary neighbor, “Absolutely, we DON’T.”
4) Sleep when the boss sleeps. Our midwife told my wife this, and it’s proven true that the best time to get rest is when the person we’ve been working for (without pay) rests. We have developed a system that currently works. Still, it’s hard to work hard and to find rest. Takes effort.
5) People are concerned. About my wife. Not a few people want to make sure my wife (and son too) are healthy. That makes me feel good because I know she’s valued by more people than just me. Now, those same people aren’t always so interested in how I am, but I have very good friends to supplement the stupidity of the well-intended. It helps to a have good group of people who love you and see you when others look over you.
6) New relationships are vulnerable. I didn’t like my son at first. I’m not sure how much I like him now since everyday I’m subject to unevenness, and generally I am pretty even fellow. But crying unhinges me, particularly because I don’t have doors in my home. I’ve noticed my weaknesses and the places in me that are messy in these months. I hope this child grows up and that this new role comes with a lot of patience.
7) Keep your eyes open and look around when water is involved. More pointedly, if you leave a child unattended or slightly unattended during bath time, it helps to have extremely quick reflexes. I haven’t dropped him yet! Every situation is potentially a danger around this child. It makes me wonder if I’ll miss. Indeed, I know I’ll miss something one of these days. And either I’ll get injured, saving him from a fall–which I suppose would be the fatherly preferrable thing–or he will. You can’t prevent every danger, even with quick reflexes.
8) Babies need too many things. Daiper pails have their own special bags. There are such things for sell as breathing pads and onesies, and babies have more options for their personal comfort like swings and cribs and pac-n-plays. And I think there’s a temptation to get more things, unnecessary things, while forgetting basic things. I told my wife that our son could sleep in a drawer. I was joking. Partially. It was my way of remembering the things he really would need from us and my way of pointing out the things we wanted to give him. We don’t need as many things as we think. Love. Time. Effort. Presence. Relationships needs those items more than a fruit-dispensing teething ring or the splendid sounds of a put-that-baby-to-sleep CD. And my son loves Piano Sonata #14.