My now-seven-year-old has never been a big eater. He doesn’t have a huge appetite, and he doesn’t like a lot of things. When he was smaller he would sometimes go days without getting what I would consider to be a good, solid meal. But I remember one day, when he was probably three (and he’s always been small for his age, so he was a really tiny guy), he asked me if I would make him some scrambled eggs.
Oh! What joy for this mama, whose worry that everyone is getting enough to eat is constantly bubbling just below the surface! I happily scrambled up three eggs, thinking I’d give him half, and then, in the off chance he’d want more, there would be some left.
Well. He sat right down and ate all of what I gave him and asked for more. I gave him the rest of the eggs, and he ate those as well. Then he asked for more! So I scrambled up three more, and he ate all of those, too.
Six eggs in one sitting! Into a tiny body that would consider a handful of goldfish to be a meal!
When he was done eating, he hopped down from his chair and went off to play and I thought, “He must have needed protein.”
I was thinking of this story recently, because I’ve been feeling some pretty intense cravings of my own, though not for food. My cravings have been for *goodness*, for the fresh air of wholesomeness after the pollution of what-the-heck-is-going-on-with-our-world.
Recent low points: I was reading recently about detailed guides to suicide being inserted into children’s shows on YouTube by hackers, and the related worry about the Momo Challenge—later reported to be a hoax—whose character’s horrifying face is enough to give anyone nightmares. I read a longer, more-detailed piece than I’d yet read about Otto Warmbier, the American student who was imprisoned in North Korea for the alleged theft of a propaganda poster and was returned to the U.S. and his parents more than a year later in a vegetative state; he died less than a week after. I can’t even think about how the Senate voted to block consideration of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last week. There are so many things that are horrifying, saddening, frightening, and maddening that are bombarding my mental peace.
Then of course there are all the small bits of violence and corruption in my own home, as in everyone’s—meanness, selfishness, exclusion of others, impatience, and bad tempers at and among the very people I love most. It’s no mystery to me why the world is the way it is. We can be such burdens to each other, and sometimes we’re our very worst enemies.
One of the best medicines I’ve found for restoring peace and hope in my own heart? Babies!
While small children in general are full of innocence and wonder and are a balm for the soul, there is none so innocent, none so full of wonder, none so balmier, as a baby. My youngest, who is six months old, provides that breath of fresh air with just about everything that he does. He’s sitting in his high chair next to me while I write this, babbling to himself and gnawing on a teether, and when he catches me looking at him, he breaks into the happiest smile you’ve ever seen. Can anyone be happier than a mother whose baby is beaming at the sight of her?
I often marvel at his eyes—so big and clear—as they take in everything around him. I love how peacefully he sleeps, how his eyelashes lay on his cheeks, how fully trusting he is that he is safe and loved. I love how peacefully *I* sleep when he falls asleep on my chest—those are the best naps.
I love that he lets me love him—he’s not yet old enough to want to run away from my hugs and kisses. I kiss him all over his face and he laughs and holds onto my face and my hair with his little hands and neither one of us can get enough of each other.
When any of the older boys are having a hard time, putting the baby in their laps is an immediate mood enhancer. When my husband comes home from work, he makes a beeline for the baby.
Even all the care a baby needs helps alleviate some of the gloom—the burden of a darling baby is the nicest burden a person can have, much nicer than the nastiness and general “issues” adults (myself included) foist upon each other with troubling regularity. I’ve seen babies bring out the sweet side of even the most irritable—they certainly do that for me.
I suspect that the most cynical among you are thinking, “Babies grow up. Bad guys were once babies.” And I know that the particular characteristics I’m writing about here are some of the most fleeting of the fleeting baby age. I still say: if you’re looking for heaven on earth—for pure, untarnished goodness and restored faith in humanity and all its beautiful potential; for a natural high that’s all goodness and no badness—babies are where it’s at.