Babies suck. Yes, I wrote that. If you’re thinking, “Don’t you have a new born?” You’d be correct. And that’s why this topic has come up. I’m not just a jerk claiming babies suck because I want someone to hate. If hating someone was what I wanted (I’m not sure why I would), I have me, and I got really good at it back in my teens and early twenties. I don’t miss those days… minus the music. The music was soooo much better in the late 90s and early 2000s just like the way I treat myself now is soooo much better than it used to be.
I have a toddler who will knowingly pee on the floor and while I’m cleaning it, she’ll start screaming in my face because I won’t let her splash in it, and that’s soooooo much more tolerable than a baby. At least I can understand it: “Yeah, you’re upset because you’re not getting your way. Perhaps your fight could be for something better like for ice cream, but whatever; I get being upset for not getting what you want because I do that too.” Meanwhile, my newborn will be crying and doesn’t make any sense: “You’re fed, burped/spat up on me, you’re changed, a comfortable temperature, and being held and bounced. You have everything you could want and you’re still not happy. Why are you being like a teenager?”
I once did a sermon at Christmas talking about how much I don’t like babies – no offence to baby Jesus. I may be the only pastor to ever done a sermon like that… I think I’m the only pastor to say a lot of things I’ve said… that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m currently not working for a church. Growing up the youngest in the family (by default that makes me the best) and not having any nieces or nephews, I had virtually no direct experience with babies. I had only heard stories about how, if they’re not sleeping, they’re either crying or eating with the constant risk of them throwing up, peeing, and pooping on you – delightful – and now that I’ve had a baby… the rumors were pretty accurate. I also heard that if you’re not careful with a baby, you can kill them because they’re so fragile, and that’s definitely not something I wanted on my resume: “You killed a baby? That’s so sexy,” said by no one ever. Babies terrified me, and now here I am with my second newborn because women can’t give birth to toddlers. Ladies, you carry the baby nine months; what’s another twelve months? It’d be a great leg work out and save a ton on diapers. Arguably the birthing experience would be unpleasant, but think of the environment.
Why would I bring this up, especially when I have a two month old? Oh wait, that gives my answer – I have a two month old. We named our daughter, Lucy, after my sister said that’s the name she would’ve used if she had been able to have a daughter. I liked it because I wanted to use a female comedian’s name like I did with Gracie (i.e. Gracie Allen), and my wife just liked it. Turns out, Lucy is actually short for Lucifer; who knew? Babies, in general, are useless. When they’re awake they look around like they’re stoned and they couldn’t care less about you – serve me! Lucy takes this to a whole new level because after a few weeks, she became classified as “fussy.” We’re very fortunate she’s not colic (my heart goes to any parents who’ve gone through this), so we’re fortunate, but still… sometimes you just want to scream… I mean, people who aren’t therapists would want to scream; I’m always calm and cool…
The best advice I was given before being a new dad four years ago was “As a guy, you won’t like your baby for the first four months or so, but then you’ll have a moment like when she wraps her tiny hand around your finger and then you’ll be hers.” Around this time, I was also told that holding a baby on their stomach along your forearm helps calm them when they’re fussy. That trick was a Godsend with Gracie, my first daughter, but not with Lucy. She couldn’t care less how you hold her; she’s going to cry: (translation to her crying) “I just want to make your life miserable!” With Lucy, only one of these two pieces of advice is transferable… hopefully the one will be transferable. I guess we’ll find out.
With Gracie, my wife loved her from the start, but I specifically remember the moment I first saw her as more than a new set of chores and responsibilities. Around the 4-5 month mark my wife and I were walking around Montreal with two friends and I was pushing Gracie’s stroller in the store beside the restaurant we were waiting to eat at, Olive and Gourmondo where they serve the best sandwiches. These sandwiches are so good, we were visiting our friend in Ottawa and one person mentioned the restaurant and all four of us very conservative (aka boring) grownups said we should drive to Montreal just for the sandwich – it was that good… or we’re that “crazy.” In this store anxiously waiting for the sandwich I drove from Ottawa to Montreal for, I was pushing Gracie in her stroller and when I looked down she was looking up at me smiling and not just for gas reasons, but because she recognized me. For the first time I really felt like we connected. It was a wonderful moment. Just like the person said, after that moment I was hooked.
Having Lucy, I’ve needed to remind myself of this lesson and I look forward to a moment like this with her – the moment I feel connected. My wife is already incredibly infatuated with her, especially when Gracie doesn’t cuddle her anymore, so my wife gets all her cuddles with the new one. This dynamic where I watch Gracie more while my wife is more with the new baby is pretty typical and works really well. It reminds me of how incredible the whole baby thing is. Babies are born completely useless, so you have to serve them, which actually builds your attachment to them (helping others connects us to them). Plus, we get to see the little ones grow and develop, which further helps our connection as well as give us parents a sense of pride. Even with the way babies aren’t born with teeth is brilliant – nursing moms agree with that – and then the teeth come in around the time their stomachs can start to handle real food. The process is just brilliant. Babies are a great reminder of God’s incredible ability to create. Andwhat’s really crazy is every adult was once a useless baby and, as it says in the theme song to The Big Bang Theory, “It all started with a big bang!” God is pretty amazing.
This week may you realize how incredible the birth and development of people is and know that it’s normal for guys not to have any connection to a newborn until the baby is more responsive.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)