Christmas and learning to live on baby time

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My guest blogger today is my older daughter who recently made me a grandfather:

The mornings are my favorite time with our new baby girl.  She starts to stir before it’s light out, but politely lies awake cooing while I snooze just a few minutes longer.  The dog, on the other hand, is more demanding.  He wants his trip outside and two cups of food.  Stat.

When I finally go over to pick up Gwen she greets me with a wide-eyed grin.  I take her back to bed with me and feed her.  She always tricks me by falling asleep for a few minutes when she’s finished, but I relish those delicious little breaths on my neck as I burp her.

We head downstairs and I put her in her Snugabunny.  I never knew what that was until I became a mom.  I get the coffee pot going, grateful that I can indulge now in as much caffeine as I want (and I need it after some long nights).  I turn on the Christmas tree lights and we sit together while Gwen eventually slips into her first nap by 8 a.m.

It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?  This slow kind of morning?  Truthfully, it’s been difficult for me to appreciate it.  I’m used to getting going in the morning.  Taking my shower, blow drying my hair, picking out my clothes.  Now it’s all about her.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how lucky I am to have this time at home with her.  But, the days are long and short at the same time.  The minutes tick on by and yet the sun seems to creep away far too early.  We go on walks, trekking around the neighborhood on a mission to breathe crisp air and feel – if only for a few moments – like we’re a part of the bustling world around us.

But we’re not busy.  We’re not running around.  I haven’t entered a store once to Christmas shop this year.  Instead we are hunkered down, slowed down, buckled down into this new “routine” with a baby.  A friend came over a few weeks after Gwen was born and asked what I “do all day.”  Soothe, shush, swaddle, smile… not much I guess except attend to her every need.

This Advent season has forced me into a spiritual rhythm I’ve never had before.  Pastors like me usually have a million things to do at this time of year.  But during this particular Advent season, as these last days of maternity leave trickle on by, I have had to force myself to be present to this child.  To the monotonous beauty of it.  To wait and watch and listen on baby time.

In the sometimes overwhelming simpleness of our days together there’s nothing else to do but allow the new love I have for my daughter to envelope me.  It’s a painful kind of love that makes my heart ache and causes my throat to choke up.  It reminds me that this is the kind of love God has for me, too.

I’ll always be grateful for these slow Advent days.  This time is a gift.  This baby is a gift.   And as I find myself hushed in quiet during nap time, soaking in the sight of my child, I also remember the child who has come, and is coming, and will come again.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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8 Responses to Christmas and learning to live on baby time

  1. Sandy Steffen December 18, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    WOW, Sarah via Dad, beautiful blog!! Thank you for sharing your story. Merry Christmas & a very Happy Healthy New Year!! We will miss your Mom & Dad very much but they are on the journey of a lifetime!!

    • Doug December 18, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks, Sandy. We will (and do) miss you too!

  2. Kathy Bostrom December 18, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Doug, thank you for sharing this beautiful post from your daughter. She is a wonderful writer like her father, and her words reached deep down into my heart as I both remember those days with a newborn (long time ago!) and seek a quieter Advent myself in this first year of my retirement. Blessings to all the family!

    • Doug December 18, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Thanks for the kind response, Kathy. And coming from such a fine writer, it means all the more. I cried myself the first time I read it, but then I tend to be totally non-objective about this sort of thing. Thanks for confirming that it’s good!

  3. Barb Keith December 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    What precious time this is for your wonderful family!
    Enjoy this time together.
    We miss you at First Pres!
    Love, barb & Tom Keith

    • Doug December 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Am missing you too, Barb and Tom! I hope all is well with you this Christmas season. Blessings!

  4. Georgia Hamilton December 18, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Dear Sarah,

    What a beautiful descriiption of your “new” life with little Gwen. Your vivid writing helps those of us who are grandparents remember what it was like to have such overwhelming love and awe for this precious someone entrusted to our care.

    Blessings to you and your family at this holiest of seasons.

    Georgia Hamilton

  5. Heidi Gagnon December 29, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. God has a way of reminding us the importance of “new life”. It centers us all. What a peaceful, reflecting time for you. Looking at your picture, and reading your message brings such a warm feeling. As a grandparent, I just want to snuggle with little Gwen, too! Thinking of all of you!

    Peace.

    Lovingly,

    Heidi Gagnon

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