Christmas is different this year. Really different. And yet, it is the same. This year, four days after Christmas, my eldest child will get married. Then, the next day, we will celebrate the high school graduation of my third son, Patrick. The frenetic pace of this season is wearing on me. Yesterday, the bride came over around dinnertime and found me sitting on the floor of the kitchen ordering shoes. And then I pinned a hem. And I think I made a grocery list. All still sitting on the kitchen floor. I was just too tired to move to the table.
As the busyness of these days envelopes us and propels us towards changes, I can’t help but remember quieter Christmases. While my six-foot-tall athlete prepares to leave for the University of Virginia, I remember being mama of a newborn. And I ask Patrick’s new mama to teach his much older mama to just be still and know God.
From Christmas 1994
Once again it is that very busy time of year. Parents everywhere are caught up in the whirlwind of homemaking and merrymaking. But notthis mom. This year, you'll find me just sitting and cuddling our soft newborn baby, Patrick Gabriel, who was born October 2. Patrick is our third baby and one would think that I wouldn't be amazed by how a baby slows me down.
Housework which we previously finished in under an hour takes the better part of the morning. I don't dare make appointments before 10 in the morning and even then it's tough to arrive on time. Life seems to be moving in the slow motion peculiar to every postpartum. This time, I'm not fighting it. I'm taking my time. I'm determined not to speed things up.
With my first infant, I was anxious for each new milestone of development -- I hurried the baby days away. With the second, I was eager for him to grow and be a playmate for the first. With this baby, I'm embracing the time. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I'm not naturally patient and I like to move quickly. But for now, I'm grateful for the excuse to sit for 20 minutes every two hours and nurse the baby. I don't even miss the hustle and bustle of the season.
Of course, with Patrick's older brothers completely caught up in the Christmas commotion, I am not totally oblivious to the chaos outside. For some reason, though (hormones?), I'm able to meet their exuberance with relative calm and to delight in their enthusiasm. Having a newborn at Christmas time makes the infant Jesus seem very real to my 2-year-old. And the humble sacrifices of Mary and Joseph seem heroic to my husband and me. What an awesome calling -- to parent the child of God. Isn't that what we are all called to do?
When they are infants, new and sweet, it is so easy to remember that they are the handiwork of the Lord, gifts from heaven. And as Charles Dickens once wrote, "It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us."
Surely, this will be the best Christmas ever. We have a bright, inquisitive 6-year-old who grasps the meaning of the season nearly as well as an adult but reflects it back through the eyes of a child. We have a lively 2-year-old who is amazed at the sights and sounds and activity but ever grateful for the chance to cuddle quietly with mom and his new baby.
And we have Patrick Gabriel, a brand new breath of heaven.
I'm glad to let the busyness of Christmas time whirl around me as I gaze through the haze created by a new baby. (Some would call it sleep deprivation, but that's not very poetic.) I'm very happy snuggled in my flannels, sipping peppermint tea in the light of the Christmas tree and drinking in the heady sweetness of a new baby.
If you happen to be cradling a baby in your arms as you read this post, I'm glad you're with me. If you are expecting a baby, put your feet up and join us; you certainly deserve the rest. And if your babies have grown all too quickly, take a moment to reminisce. Wherever you are in your parenting, I invite you to look through the eyes of a child and share the peace of an Infant.