The babies in the nursery were a study in the variety of God’s handiwork. It was a sorrowful cacophony as their mommies walked away, and then just like that, all was well again. Some were fragile, others built like semi-trucks.
Several were timid, one slept for two hours straight, and one staggered around to play with toys and occasionally reached out for a comforting snuggle. One crawled around the room putting everything in his mouth, and one sat on a helper’s lap playing with a ball. One reached out to pull hair and fell on top of whoever was near enough with the force of a defensive linebacker. One drank her bottle without a fuss and one resisted to the end.
But one thing was true of them all.
They each had different personalities, as clear as can be, and none of them was better than the other.
I’ll admit, the little curly haired lamb that sat on my lap and played with a rattle for a long period of time was easier.
The one who slept was a gift.
The one who was independent and occupied herself happily was a blessing.
But the one who was curious and roamed the room disturbing everyone else’s business was a gift and a blessing too. I learned later that he had older brothers. I nodded my head in satisfaction. Sounded quite familiar.
The “easy” ones made our job…easy. And pleasant. And happy to fulfill.
The busy, curious, strong, mobile one-was challenging. Not bad. Not untrained. Not naughty except by nature like all the other babies. But he was more adventurous.
I wouldn’t want him to morph into that sweet little one who sat for an hour and tinkered with a jack-in-the-box. And I wouldn’t want his mom to think that because God instilled a natural and blessed veracity in his personality, that she was not doing a good enough job to train him to sit still.
And I certainly didn’t want to become the judgmental observer who thinks that because a toddler is not just like all of mine, that mine are…better.
Or worse, for that matter.
I long for the day when as mothers, we stop boxing parents and children up into tidy packages of what we think “good” kids and “good” parents look like.
I see it when little lives and souls are only months into this big world, before they even have a chance to allow God’s stamp of approval to sink in. Instead of celebrating their quirks and individuality, we condemn them. And their parents.
Just like that, we build walls when we should be forming community. I want to spend more time in the nursery, with babies who are free to be themselves, in all their composure or disarray, trusting that we will simply care for them, protect them, love them, and feed them what they need when they need it. They weren’t concerned about following rules or what people would think of them. They simply reveled in their own adorable uniqueness, doing what they do best, sitting quietly or conquering the world. It gave me a fresh appreciation to cherish the differences in all of us, no matter our age and to understand that easier does not mean better.
I don’t need another reason to love babies, but God added one more to my lengthy list. I cherish the wild-at-heart nature of my own sons, and though they certainly do not make my life smooth-sailing, I wouldn’t have it (or them!) any other way.
YOUR TURN! What kinds of personalities do you see in your own kids? Between you and your own siblings? Were you allowed to be…you?
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Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1