Babies cry. And they poop. And they stink. And then they cry some more.
I know all of this is true because my family was recently blessed with a tiny, new addition named Mary Elizabeth. I think her mom and dad would agree with me that she’s a precious handful.
Since I mostly used my last post to reflect upon the end of life, I’ve decided to dedicate this latest one to life’s beginnings. In other words, I’m not going to write about my car accidents or brain hemorrhages here. Instead, I’m going to write about babies.
Though the particular, adorable child in question is not my own, having her around has certainly been a great learning experience for me, her uncle.
I suppose any mom could have told me this, but one thing I’ve discovered is that it’s nearly impossible to get any kind of work done while holding a baby. Even something as simple as sending an email takes ten times as long as it should, because apparently a child of even just a few days old can tell when you’re not giving her your undivided attention.
Rather than being resentful of this youthful neediness, I have come to appreciate it—at least on the few occasions that it directly affects me. I’ve been learning that it’s sometimes good to have a break from being productive, as this gives more time for introspection.
For years I’ve believed that I do my best thinking while occupied with monotonous chores like mowing the lawn or weeding the garden. But now with the arrival of Mary Elizabeth, I’ve found something even more conducive to reflection, and that is having a baby fall asleep in my arms.
There are few things in this world more soothing than having little Mary breathing rhythmically against my shoulder while her eyes softly flutter shut. It is, in a word, adorable. But there’s more to it than that. Much more.
As the 20th century British journalist G.K. Chesterton put it, each time a baby’s born it’s as if the whole world has been created anew.
While we adults have long since learned to take the world around us for granted and to be bored with our everyday lives, a baby is experiencing the whole world for the very first time. Everything is new and mysterious to a baby. Their big, dark eyes scan about, taking in every object around them as if they were surveying an entirely new planet. It’s all absolutely foreign to them. They’ve never seen anything like it before. They are as amazed by a beetle or a kitten as we would be by a dinosaur or a dragon.
With every single birth that occurs, this process of wonder and discovery begins anew. It happens each day in the little, adorable heads around us, yet so often we are too preoccupied with “adult” concerns to even give it a second thought. But while we grown-ups are filling our time with the things we believe to be crucially important—work, money, politics, possessions—little children like Mary Elizabeth are busy discovering and exploring an entirely new world.
Or, to phrase it as Chesterton did, every day in the lives of children like Mary Elizabeth, it’s truly as if the world has been created anew.