My three month old baby was crying. I had just gone back to work. And a sister was on the phone, wanting to talk about her upcoming blog post.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, the baby’s cries clearly coming through the phone. “I’m still figuring out this working with a baby thing.”
“It’s perfectly ok!” Sister Ann said. “I love to hear it! She’s telling you she needs something. Isn’t it wonderful, babies just tell it like it is. When do we lose our ability to vocalize what we need?”
The baby calmed down, Sister Ann and I finished our phone call, and she wrote a lovely blog post about finding what you’re looking for (you can read it here.) But what she said got me thinking: what can paying close attention to babies teach us?
So, here are three things my baby has taught me (so far) about life, love, and faith.
1. It’s important to communicate needs.
That first comment from Sister Ann rings true to me. When do we, as people, learn that we need to keep our needs to ourselves? While I don’t think my daughters vehicle of communication would work for all of us (I can see it now…people bursting into fits of tears in the middle of business meetings, the grocery store, a dinner with friends…) it’s true that we often don’t talk openly with others about our needs. Sisters of St. Joseph are very much concerned with being in relationship with others. Open communication is often the first step in a full, open, and meaningful relationship, whether that be a friendship, mentorship, or collaborative relationship. By expressing our needs to others, and being open with them, we can build more meaningful relationships with each other and our world.
2. You can love a person you’ve just met – or never met.
The love one has for a child may be different from the love we have for a partner or friend, but it is love that comes about all on its own. A baby doesn’t do anything specific to make us love them: we love them simply because they exist. Not only our own babies, but the infants of others make many of us coo and smile when we see them out in our neighborhoods. Why, then, do we sometimes find it difficult to extend this love to all of our neighbors? Aren’t we all called to love our neighbors, whether they are the person next door or a continent away? And when do we lose our ability to do this willingly? My little girl doesn’t seem to make a distinction between her great aunt or the cashier at the grocery store, so long as they both make funny faces at her, she offers them a smile!
3. Love is unconditional.
It does not matter if it is 3am, and my daughter has been crying for the last hour. It doesn’t matter if I have only gotten 2 hours of sleep, and am exhausted. I love her the same, no matter what. It’s not surprising, then, that we often refer to God as a Father or Mother figure. God loves us always, unconditionally.
Having a new baby has taught me many things: how little sleep I can get and still function; how much coffee I can drink in one day; how many diapers a baby can go through. As she grows, I know I’ll help her learn new things, but I think she’ll keep teaching me too.
About the Author
Elizabeth Powers is the Electronic Communications Manager for the Congregation of St. Joseph and manages the blog, Beyond the Habit. She sometimes acts as a contributing writer. She loves reading, writing, and Harry Potter. She is a new mom, and working to figure it out!