Child, Mirror, Guru

People wonder, why should I have a baby? One reason is, they teach you so much.

Children teach you that people are unpredictable.

Maybe some babies run like clockwork, but we can’t predict if ours will wake up at 5:38, 6:15, or a glorious 7 o’clock.   Nor can we predict whether she’ll nap 40 minutes or 2 hours—though outdoor activities or swimming are good ways to bring about a long nap.

Children teach you about yourself.

You learn about where you came from. Watching a baby, you marvel, “I was that small once!” Observing language acquisition, as well as the drive it takes to get up and walk, is like a lesson in evolution. Seeing both yours and your mate’s traits in your child is like holding up a mirror.

DNA collides, and the results are a mosaic, not just of our two characteristics, but we see our parents and grandparents in her, too. (She has blue eyes! We both have brown. Where did this recessive trait come from?) So many mysteries of life are contained in reproduction, that when it’s happening to you (pregnancy, birth, and caring for a newborn), you come to know certain things bodily that you can’t really wrap your mind around.

Once they start talking, I am sure, your children could become your staunchest supporters and sharpest critics. (We have plenty of time to prepare for this, yet, something tells me she’ll still catch us off guard.)

Children are born fearless.

At least, our baby seems fearless. I put an inchworm on her arm and she wanted to pinch it and toss it away, but her demeanor didn’t change at all. With a straight face, she’ll touch anything from mud to mushrooms to earthworms—exploring her surroundings with wide-eyed curiosity and no fears or heuristics. I suppose one of my functions as a parent is to teach her what to be afraid of—essentially, fire and poisons—but I’d like to approach it as teaching scientific understanding, respect, and mastery. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there’s that id that has to be trained, and, while I’m trying to shape her persona, mine is getting shaped in the process.

Children call attention to the parents’ relationship.

Some couples grow closer together having shared the birth experience and both being newcomers to the world of newborns; others drift apart; most fall in the middle of the spectrum. Without long-term experience to speak from, I wonder whether there’s an adjustment period, or kids constantly spur parents to conversations they may never have had, about beliefs, fears, ethics, and values. My husband and I have good communication, and we can talk openly about our thoughts and make joint decisions we feel we both weighed in on.

Truthfully, we haven’t had to tackle real tough stuff together yet. Last night, I had a new realization that the worst is ahead of me. For a long time, I thought the worst was behind me, but now I realize challenges unlike any I’ve known lie ahead.

So, why have a baby? If you grow your family, I imagine, you grow your support network. Sure, you also gather dependents, but the mutually beneficial relationships of family are what I live for and care most about in this world.

Children help you discover the hidden reservoirs of energy and courage you never knew you had.

On little sleep, and on little faith, a parent will grow an extra arm to help, heal, and even entertain his baby. If this doesn’t ring true, and you haven’t had kids yet, think of what your parents have done for you.

Do you remember story time, or anything else about your bedtime routine? I remember my mom would come to my room in the middle of the night if I called, and lie down in my bed until I fell back to sleep.

I now feel like my parents were paying it forward. I am obliged to give our daughter the positive attention and, especially, time that nourishes a spirit. There is no substitute for quality time. I wish it didn’t start at 6:15 in the morning, but…

…Children are worth the trouble.

They give back without even knowing it, with smiles and kisses and surprises. It even impresses me when my daughter brushes away my hand so she can walk by herself. Today, she learned sign language for “cold.” I fed her a smoothie in the morning, and she started using the sign instantly, probably because she loved the smoothie. Later, on a sizzling hot Memorial Day afternoon, I filled the kiddie pool with water from the hose. It was freezing! I wouldn’t have enjoyed water that cold, myself. Once again she used the sign for “cold” (shaking two fists in the air in front of you, like you’re shivering cold).

I was worried that having a baby would be a buzz kill, but my cousin Tom reassured me that seeing the world anew through a child’s eyes would be an amazing adventure, and he was right.

family, famiglia, המשפחה, familia, परिवार, οικογένεια, 家族, семьи, famille...

About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
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6 Responses to Child, Mirror, Guru

  1. Tom Lewis says:

    Great post. You haven’t traveled, or really lived, until you have done it through the eyes of a child.

  2. Catherine says:

    Having a child is being able to live your childhood through conscious eyes. :)

  3. This post is so touching. I feel really honored that you’re sharing this with us.

  4. I love this post. LOVE. It’s refreshing and affirming for me.

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