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A Real Baby's Baby

Posted Thursday, Nov. 03, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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Sometimes I think Thing Two believes I am incompetent. She already has the most beautiful little face with the most beautiful arched eyebrows, and boy howdy, do they arch. She gives me these looks that say, “Are you sure that’s the best way to crack an egg? Is there a reason for that particular headband? I wonder if you’ve considered all the possibilities here.” She will be a great mom someday.

She will also be a great mom because she is already showing signs of nurture, and the desire to feed things. I’ve written before about her and Baby, her baby doll, aptly named by me because I am fond of telling Thing Two not to put it in the corner. She picks up Baby, usually upside down, and toddles down the hallway like she’s got places to be and people to see. She stops, sits down abruptly, and spends 10 minutes trying to insert the plastic pacifier inside the tiny hole in Baby’s mouth, concentrating with surgical precision. Then she picks Baby up, holds her awkwardly against her chest, and pats her back with the tips of her dainty fingers — fingers not much bigger than Baby’s.

(Baby is almost as big as Thing Two. I think it would be strange to have a baby that was ¾ my size, but somehow Madeline manages it. She loves her daughter and would lasso the moon if Baby asked.)

Last week I went to get Madeline up from her nap. It was obvious she needed a fresh diaper — and fast! — so I opened the blinds to let in the afternoon sunlight and plucked her out of her crib. I laid her down on the changing table and she began protesting and pointing back to her crib. Baby was there, laying on her back with eyes closed, unbothered. Madeline’s pitch grew higher: bring me my baby immediately! This is life or death!

“I have to change you first, and then you can have it,” I said, and that’s when lightning struck.

I have to change you first.

I don’t know if God ever uses the words that come out of your own mommy-mouth to express the thing you most need to hear yourself. In a twist of irony, he uses all the goodwill, emphasis, insistence and compassion behind our parental admonitions to pantomime his own good heart towards ours. The phrase boomeranged around the room.

I have to change you first, and then you can have it.

What’s the “it” for me? Well, it’s a lot of things. I’m not sure it is any one thing; just the general sense that the way I wait for things is skewed. When I’m waiting, I’m preoccupied with how to go about short-circuiting the process; I don’t consider there might actually BE a process, only that there must be a fast track somehow and that I’m entitled to find it.

The process always means change. I am made ready, made worthy, made winsome enough to receive the things God has for me in his timing — if only I could stop squirming and let him do the dirty work first. We want to spend our lives getting handed the baby when we are babies ourselves and need someone to love enough to make us wait.

I understand that a little better now.

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