My friend and former co-worker had a baby boy in December. It was her first, and my first close friend to have a child. So I was pretty excited to meet him yesterday.
The baby is cute, of course. He makes adorable noises. He breaks into a mouth-wide-open grin when you tickle him, or sing the “Fuzzy Caterpillar” song. He likes to stare at the coffee maker and take baths.
I smiled at how happy my friend is. She is staying home with him full-time, and she tells me she couldn’t imagine it any other way. She tells me this several times, and it feels true, as if coming from the deepest part of her. She also described the emotional roller coaster of the first few months, the world turned upside down in ways you never imagined.
I admit that kind of change scares me, even more than the fear of growing old without family or passing something on. Yet, when she sings the caterpillar song to calm him, I see this flash in her eyes and a glow on her face. It’s like she has experienced something so profound that its beauty makes any pain worthwhile. The joy outweighs the difficulty, or maybe accepts it and takes it in, letting it become something greater.
Now I’m projecting my metaphysics onto the situation. But seeing a new mom with her child makes me think of the way people find meaning beyond heartbreak, even when their world is turned upside down. And I hope I have (or can nurture) this strength that allows you to say in the midst of the whirlwind, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”