God made babies cute for a reason. He really got us with those sparkly, crisp eyes and wet smile. Their soft wispy hairs that never lay down. Their warm soft forehead smells soothing when you kiss it. You inhale their goodness and instantly feel relaxed; at home. Their limber little bodies fit perfectly against your chest in your arms as you meet their needs. The suckling from a bottle with big swallows makes you stare so long your neck hurts. One limb goes numb, then another, but you’re not moving. It’s taken you an eternity to get this sweet little thing to sleep and your show is about to start. As you wait for that one last sigh that shows you he’s down for the night, you count your blessings. Your eyes trace every inch of his face: his shiny nose, rosy cheeks, long eye lashes that are just unfair, down to his dimpled fingers wrapped around your thumb. This. is. love.
It’s at this point, as parents, we start to picture what their lives could turn out to be. Maybe he’ll be athletic like Dad or artistic like Mom. Maybe he’ll marry his high school sweetheart or maybe he’ll meet a nice girl at college. He’ll be momma’s boy no matter what and you make a vow to be a cool mother-in-law, not a scary one.
But then, things start to happen too quickly. He’s crawling, walking, talking, throwing fits, picking out his own clothes, making friends and having sleep overs, getting picky about food, having a favorite band that you totally hate, having that one friend that you love yet seven others you can’t stand.
And then you realize: he’s a person. You have created a human. I mean sure, you knew this the moment he was born, but it’s different now. He’s a walking, talking, decision making human-being that looks and sounds a lot like you. Cue the heartache. That moment you realize that the dreams you had about him when he was a baby are probably not going to happen like you’d hoped and that’s okay. Acceptance. Accepting who your child has grown up to be all the while still picturing him in that onesie you loved so much, yet he’s standing right in front of you as a grown man.
To me, that’s why God made babies so cute. It’s like He knew that as they grow and separate themselves from us, the parents, we aren’t always going to like them. We aren’t always going to want to be around them. They’re going to break our hearts in two, stomp on them, and then walk away. For a bit. They’ll come back, they always come back. But the waiting is hard. It hurts. No one said parenting is easy. No one said parenting is fun. Yet, as parents, we have a longing to parent and to love our snotty nosed, sassy kids because we can’t stop picturing how cute they were as babies. We can’t stop picturing how much we loved them.
Here’s to parents everywhere, you’re doing a great job. Hang in there.