Babies are such a nice way to start people & other stories


My three kids have “big people” problems.

–Dad, I’m going to need a car to get around for my summer internship, what should I do?

–Dad, which meal plan should I choose for college?  I’m thinking about Meal Plan #3, but it costs $800 more than the other two. What do you think?

–Dad, I’m thinking of joining the marching band in the Fall, can you give me $150 to cover the middle school activity fee.

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The simple to complex

My kids’ problems used to be altogether different. I used to be able to track their problems on one hand. They fell into four or five buckets: they needed fed; they needed a diaper change; they were too cold or too hot; they needed sleep.

Oh it could get complicated and scary real quick with a croaky cough or worrisome fever, but they would let you know something was wrong with a loud cry.

But somewhere along the line, the problems got more challenging. They weren’t better or worse, it just took more to figure out the best solution and now usually involve a withdrawal from the Bank of Dad.

Despite all that, I took a break from my kid’s problems recently when a coworker brought her four month baby into my workplace and asked if I would “hold her for a minute” while she took care of an issue with HR and spoke with her manager.

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I’m out of practice, are you crazy? 

I suggested to my coworker that she might just want to set her daughter in her car carrier, but I felt bad for her when she said her daughter hadn’t been sleeping well and feared that she’d wake up if she put her in the carrier.

“Um, sure, I can help.”

I’m a bit out of practice in the baby-holding job. Thirteen years whizzes by faster than you think. However, I fell right back into the position — my standard swaying and rocking position the same position I advertently find myself still today in church or other places where I used to have to rock my kids when they were infants.

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Like riding a bicycle

I spoke softly to her and held her close. She looked up once and even cooed, but closed her eyes and was peaceful and content until her mother returned. Yea, I thought to myself, I’ve still got the touch. 

The funny thing is that I used to be the go-to-guy. I shared the night-time responsibilities with my wife and prided myself on my ability to put our children to bed. I would sing silly, but still sleepy nursery rhymes, everything from “Skidamarink a-dink, a-dink, Skidamarink a-doo” to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” over and over until our cranky baby was sound asleep.

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Don’t blink

But time marches on. The first tooth comes. You bend over to pick up the teething toy and the next thing you know your kid is in braces. You turn your head again and you’re looking at them waving all smiles and all grown-up through the rearview mirror.

So it was a treat to hold my coworker’s baby and then a week later my niece at her baptism. My niece was even generous enough to stare up at me quietly for a few minutes before letting out a cry that said: “mom, who is this crazy guy holding me?”

Poor kid, I would have cried too. I still want my mom sometimes too.

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Hope, faith, and love

Driving home from the baptism, I couldn’t help but remember my own kids at the same age. I thought of the line from comedian Jim Gaffigan stating that “babies should be classified as an antidepressant since it’s pretty hard to be in a bad mood around a five-month-old baby.”

The two babies brought back good memories for me. Yes, I loved the infant years and, yes, my kids’ problems are bigger now, but I feel fortunate that I got to see them grow up into the people they are today. It went by too fast and I had to say goodbye again to one of my kids this past weekend and to another in a few weeks, but that’s okay.

At least I got to enjoy the ride. And you never know where it will go next.

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