A baby changes everything

In the midst of unearthing Christmas decorations, I surveyed the downstairs family room. Actually, “wreck” room is a more apt description. Green and red bins burgeoning with tinsel and ornaments perched precariously on tabletops. Blue bins overflowing with winter garb towered with ominous instability in opposite corners. And stacks of paper on the floor revealed last year’s resolution to stay current with filing has been a dismal failure.

Overwhelmed, I looked for a place to sit. And then I saw it – my rocking chair. Banished to the basement when my youngest grew too big to cuddle comfortably with me in its confines.rocking-chair-cushions[1]

I removed the mountain of snow pants and ski gloves that had buried it and sat down and began to rock. As I swayed, I remembered the first time I saw this chair, on a Christmas morning 20 years ago.

Our first baby was due Dec. 31. We’d prepared a blue and yellow nursery to welcome our little one. A bassinet covered with lacy white netting waited in one corner. Under the window, a changing table stocked with diapers and soft blankets stood ready. But one thing was missing – a rocking chair.

Money had been tight as we prepared to live on one income, and we’d cut back on our Christmas spending. After exchanging gifts, my husband said, “Oh, I almost forgot! I left a present downstairs.”

Bewildered, I followed him to the basement, and there it sat – an oak rocking chair. Derek had purchased it unfinished. Each night after work, he’d lovingly labored on it, smoothing rough edges and coating it with a warm brown lacquer. Somehow, he’d sneaked it into the house without my knowledge.

I threw my arms around him and sobbed. “Better try it out,” he said. So I sat down and began to rock. It was perfect. I don’t think I stopped smiling the rest of the day.

Late that Christmas night, I awoke with that vague discomfort all expectant mothers feel as their time draws near. I heaved my hugely pregnant form out of bed and waddled to the nursery. The rocking chair beckoned, bathed in the glow of the moonlight.

As I sat down and began to rock, the baby responded, squirming, stretching, his small feet doing a tap dance on my ribcage. I whispered words of welcome and wonder to him and prayed for his safe arrival.

I knew life would be different after this child’s birth, but all those Christmases ago I couldn’t have imagined the many ways I’d never be the same.

A baby changes everything.

Through the nursery window on that Christmas night, I watched snowflakes drift lazily down, illuminated by the yellow glow of the streetlight. And I thought of another mother 2,000 years ago, who swayed on a donkey’s back as she traveled to Bethlehem.

Her discomfort must have been magnified by the harshness of her journey. Surely, just like me, she must have contemplated her child’s birth. She must have whispered to him and wondered about him, while her back ached with every passing mile. And like all mothers, she couldn’t have imagined how different her life would be the moment she held him in her arms.

A baby changes everything – sometimes even the world.

Merry Christmas.

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