Until recently, it had been some time since I held a newborn child. My now two grown children blessed me with six grandchildren. As a result of the good fortune of those accumulative births, I have fed, changed, bathed, and bounced on my lap a fair share of babies. But recently when I went to visit the child born to my first cousin’s daughter and son-in-law, I was a little nervous about holding the infant.
Let me take a moment to explain my kinship to the new infant. My first cousin, Lori’s, daughter had a beautiful baby boy. Lori’s daughter is my first cousin once removed. The child born to Lori’s daughter and her husband is my first cousin twice removed. Contrary to what I used to think (and what some people still do), that newborn is not my second or third cousin. Such family structure would be too easily understood. Instead, there is – in my opinion – an illogical and confusing design of the genealogical tree that determines the status of cousins and other extended family members. So, to simplify the relationship of the newest infant in our family to me, I will henceforth refer to him as my distant, baby cousin. That clarified, let’s get back to the point.
After arriving at the home of the newly blessed couple, I took a seat alongside Lori on the cozy sectional sofa while the proud dad goes upstairs to tell his wife that we have arrived. Within minutes, the father carefully descends the stairs. In open palms with both hands together, he is carrying the precious bundle that is his son at chest level. When he reaches the sofa, he passes the infant to Lori, the new grandmother who is sitting inches away from me. Grandma cuddles, coos at, and kisses her first grandchild for several minutes and then, cuffing the baby’s tiny head in one hand and his little bottom in her other, she reaches out to pass the infant to me. I hesitate.
“Come on,” she said, sensing my uneasiness. “Take him.”
For a few seconds, butterflies flutter in my stomach, and I imagine how a first-time father might feel after watching his child being born — before he faints on the delivery room floor. But my anxiety is soon overridden by maternal instinct, and I accept the little miracle as his mom comes downstairs and joins us on the sofa.
Like most newborns, the angelic looking infant with the smooth khaki complexion has an intoxicating sweet smell. A head full of soft, curly hair graces his perfectly formed head, and he is swaddled in a thin blanket. Through half-opened eyes, he appears to study me curiously, and I comically imagine that he is thinking, “Well, here we go again, passing the baby. Geez! Can a newborn get some rest? Um, this is a face I haven’t seen before. Where did they get her?”
After spending a few minutes admiring the handsome child, I hand the baby back to his grandmother who then passes him to his mom. The mom and dad are snuggled side-by-side at the opposite end of the sofa, and I enjoy watching them admire their first born.
The parent-child bond is not something that forms over time, it an immediate love connection; sealed by a powerful force of nature. A loving parent will rush into a burning building, lunge in front of a moving vehicle, or take a bullet to save his or her child.
I wish all the best to the new parents, and life-long blessings to their little miracle. To quote an unknown source with whom I strongly agree, “Parenthood is one of the best journeys in life.”