The one-hundred-year-old clock chimed and our daughter-in-law bustled their 2-year-old out the front door to a play date down the block. One more time she asked, “Are you sure it’s okay to leave the baby with you, Mommy?”
Tucked into the comfy chair, bottle in hand, baby in my arms, I nodded, so she slipped out the door.
Committed as I was to nursing our four children and as they would never take a bottle, this new adventure of feeding another person’s baby was a bit unnerving. I am learning to enjoy the quiet connection that comes from being the one to deliver nourishment to a beloved child who didn’t come from me. I hope this experience helps build a profound sense that they can always come to me when they have urgent needs that are not being met. Time will tell.
Our oldest daughter, a bright, adaptable, and extremely capable mother now, was twelve years old when she commented to me, “Mom, if you did not nurse the baby, you would never sit down and put your feet up.”
More than that, this opportunity is good for me.
There is a delicious sense of timelessness when feeding a new baby. My grandfather – the doctor, of Blessed Memory, used to say, “Babies make their own schedule.” He was right. They rarely arrive on time. They do not sleep when they are supposed to or wake up in the mood we dictate. Eating schedules are made and abandoned when a growth spurt hits or a stuffy nose happens. Snowpants are wanted in July and flip flops are coveted in January…and yet we love them with our full heart.
What I discover when I hold the bottle and focus on being present is that she already a complete person with eyes that recognize each of my expressions, ears that hear me whisper how much I love her already and that she is soothed when I sing to her, a nose that wiggles oh so slightly when she smiles, and OH, THAT SMILE!
Somewhere in the bliss, reality rears its stressful head and I have a list of things to do. A menu to be prepared. Prayers to be uttered. The day has to go on…until her eyes close and she stops drinking, satiated, and lulled to sleep by a full tummy and my touch. The natural thing is to shift her upright and place her head on my left shoulder, try to coax out a burp and to listen to her breathe as I soak in her presence. She snuggles in close as I rub her back, all the while whispering the truth that she is a beloved blessing who will achieve great things. Sleep washes over her and I don’t shift for fear of ruining the magic.
Nothing moved. Not even that clock. The list that was stressing me out when the door closed has lost its urgency.
My previous experience with her father and his three siblings taught me that these priceless moments will fly by and unless I appreciate them as they happen and hold them in my heart, they will be lost. G-d willing, in a blink, she, too, will have playdates, schools to attend, graduations, and a future far away from my loving arms. All of which I am prepared to support.
Today, however, we made magic.
One hundred years is a long spell for anything to survive, especially through a World War, a Transatlantic move, births, deaths, weddings, and so much more. This morning that old clock stood as a witness to the fourth generation of our family as we lovingly stopped time.