Boys to Men?

I've got babies on my mind. One of my coworkers just delivered her first, my friend Sally in California will welcome her first grandchild next month, and my own son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby (our third grandchild) this summer.

I, of course, love babies. I love their smooth skin, their baby smell, their tiny lips, their long eyelashes, and their fuzzy heads. I've had two babies myself - only they aren't babies anymore.

And that's the rub. As families, we're so wrapped up in having a "baby" that we don't realize we are giving birth to a toddler, an adolescent, a teenager, and a full grown human being. That's the journey we are beginning at delivery. I know it can sound scary to new parents, but it's actually an exciting thing to think about.

When I was in junior high, my teacher made us memorize poems. There are two I remember quite distinctly. One was The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. "And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding...the highwayman came riding up to the old inn door." Such a classic - but very long to memorize. The second poem that still beats in my brain was by William Wordsworth. It's very short:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Although we had extensive discussion in Mrs. Regan's class about the meaning of this poem, I never did understand most of it. I'm reflecting today, though, on one line: "The Child is father of the Man." That's what will happening to us this summer - Our Child will be father of the Man (or Woman).

Some people have a knack for looking beyond the present into the future. A family friend bought savings bonds for our babies, for instance. I myself have bought diapers for new parents that were a few sizes bigger than newborn size, knowing they would need them eventually. When Rachel had Caroline, a teacher friend of hers gave her a pink frilly ballerina-style dress that Caroline would not be big enough to wear, of course, for several years. I remember visiting that hospital room and seeing that costume hanging on a door. That's when it hit me. We aren't just having a baby. We're having a little girl - and some day a grown woman. The picture above shows Caroline when she was finally big enough to enjoy the dress. How much pleasure that brought her! All her other baby gifts were forgotten, but that dress was still enchanting.

It is a blessing to be a parent or a grandparent or innumerable other "titles" - and to be able to see a child born into this world and to participate in their journey toward adulthood. There is happiness and sorrow, but most of the time, the joys far outweigh the disappointments. At least, that is my story.

Welcome, babies (going-on-adults) of the world! Your future awaits!