Category Archives: Yom Tov Time

Baby Talk

Time to talk about my baby. On a whim I decided to see what the definition of baby is. According to Mr. Webster the definition is (1) an extremely young child, especially an infant; (2) an extremely young animal; (3) the youngest of a group.
Seriously! What does Mr. Webster know? My definition is much more accurate. I would say a baby is a shmushy little thing that you can sink yourself into; it fills you with so much love and joy, and you can stare at it a whole day.
The non-biased fact is that my baby is k”ah gorgeous and so deliciously cute. His innocence makes him edible. I have told him numerous times that he couldn’t just suddenly be born and expect the whole world to turn upside down for him. But he just smiles at me with his precious, toothless smile. Because he does expect it. And he doesn’t care how much he disrupted our lives. He knows how much we love him and how happy we are to take care of him. It is amazing what this little human being can do to adults. He has touched each member of my family in the most heartfelt way.
He has enriched my family tremendously. As a mother it is so heartwarming for me to watch each of my other children play with him. Only a baby can get teenage boys to show so much vulnerability. They get down on the floor with him and coax him to crawl. They imitate his baby garble and fight over who gets to hold him.
He is so innocent, so clueless and has such a special place in our family. Those were my musings as I watched an interaction between my baby and my oldest son.
The thing is that babies don’t stay babies forever. As I watch my eighteen-year-old playing with my nine-month-old, I can’t help but reflect on those newborn days of my oldest. I had no idea what a newborn was. I had no idea what to expect. But all it took was one peek at him, and I was awed. He was so helpless and so perfect. He turned my world topsy-turvy. There was no such thing anymore as a schedule or a routine. But I knew that I was the luckiest person that this baby belonged to me.
The years flew by. That baby is my eighteen-year-old bechor off to a new start as a bais medrash bachur. I still feel lucky that he is mine because he adds so much to my family. He has a place here that no one else can take. And I realized that although a baby engenders immediate and automatic feelings, each person in a family is so important. Each person has his place in the home, a place in his parents’ hearts and a place in each family member’s heart.
Years ago I heard Rabbi Paysach Krohn speak about the berachah of borei nefashos. He asked why the berachah includes the word “v’chesronon” (and all their deficiencies). The answer he offered was eye-opening: no person is completely okay all by themselves. You might be a well-respected rebbi, but you need that baker to bake your bread. And as yummy as the baker’s bread might be, he still needs the plumber, the electrician and the barber.
These thoughts came to mind as I watched my children interacting. Each child is so different. They have their strong points. They have their quirks. But together we make a strong unit. And each person in a family fills a spot that others can’t. We all need each other.
When a member is not here anymore, the void is so gaping that it can’t really be filled. There are deep voids in me because of my losses. But I can’t let the pain of the losses loom bigger than the appreciation that I have for all my other family members. Sometimes it is easy to get lost in the pain and forget the many important people I am so grateful to have in my life today.
Chanukah will soon be here, and it is a time that reminds me very strongly of those who are not here anymore. Watching other, complete families at our extended-family Chanukah get-togethers is painful. It is wonderful to see all my first cousins. But why are my aunts and uncles there with all their children, B”H? Where are my parents and missing siblings? And I am sure that many of you reading this experience similar feelings.
I think of my soft, gorgeous shmushy baby and how he stirs my heart almost every second of the day. Those stirrings have made me realize how precious each family member is — my children as well as all my relatives. They won’t fill the voids, but they fill other deep places. And the truth is that I love seeing all my relatives even though it does cause pain.
This year as we light the menorah, I can assume that I will be holding my baby. (I said he’s heavenly cute, but I didn’t say anything about being well-behaved!) As I express my gratitude for him I would like to focus on feeling gratitude for my whole family. Because just as the Chanukah licht dispels the darkness, each child, aunt and cousin bring light into our lives.