The young couple who live above us had a baby this summer. I often hear the distinct cry of a newborn these days, filtered through the ceiling and floorboards above me. It is a boy and he is tiny, but already growing. His parents are happy.
Most every day, when I hear the cries, when I see the stroller carrying its little bundle, when I see the weary parents, I think to myself, “Whew. So glad that is over.” I am happy for this new little family, for the love they share that has created this little life. And, still, I think, whew, so glad that is over.
I hear him right now. The little honey must just have woken from a nap. And, hearing her cue, there are mom’s footsteps. It is a beautiful thing, a sacred thing, the caring a parent provides a baby. Infants are so vulnerable, so completely dependent, so needing a competent, loving older human to watch out for them, watch over them.
“Old MacDonald” with his farm and his vowels seems to be the go to song his parents rely on to soothe and calm him. We hear it often enough that my five year old has started singing “E-I-E-I-O” when he hears the baby’s cries. It’s cute and sweet, and often, full disclosure, a wee bit unsettling.
At 48, my infant days are over, but not that long gone. My newly minted five year old son will still, like a baby, rely on tears to communicate his frustration, his needs. It happens in a flash, those tears, and they are often gone as quickly as they started. He uses his words most of the time, thank goodness.
I’ve been thinking about the anxiety I feel, the little internal bristling I sense when I hear that newborn cry. Why? Why now? What about those cries unsettles me so? I don’t know for certain, but I think a part of it is my body and my unconscious saying, “We’re done. No more. Moving forward. Next!”
I came to it late, so it stands to reason that it would end later, too, but that stage in my life, the baby yearning years, those newborn years, the baby raising years, are over. Done. Fini. Bye, bye. Check you later, sleepless nights.
The passage of time is a gift that not all of us people are granted. As my two boys get older and achieve new milestones, I celebrate each and every one. I jump for joy on their first days of school. When I pack up the too small clothes and shoes for another, younger kid to use, I fist pump the air as I drive them to the Goodwill.
I should do the same for myself as I do for my boys. Celebrate those milestones, fist pump the air for the changes in my life, recognize the stages that were and live the stages that are and will be. It is a beautiful thing to get older, move forward, embrace what is.
Thank you, baby upstairs, for the life lesson. I wish many blessings on you and your parents. E-I-E-I-O, sweet child.