The perfect child

8:52 AM, Jul 14, 2010   |    comments
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My sincere greetings to all.  I feel I've lived in a "bubble" of sorts; one solely filled with the needs of my newborn daughter.  It's at once magical and exhausting, as I think I've mentioned before.  But I'm treasuring my time with her even as I miss my connection to the wider community.

And that wider community has certainly seen its share of activity this summer.  More on that in a second.  But first, back to that cryptic headline of mine...

Perhaps most parents experience it: a longing or hope developed over a nine-month period.  A belief, if you will, that somehow your sweet baby-to-be will be the perfect child.  The child that coos on command, drinks efficiently to her heart and belly's content and sleeps.  Sleeps well, sleeps long, sleeps peacefully and without much prodding.  Simply sleeps.

It's perfection of a different sort: it's the kind that precedes all those later expectations for success in academia, athletics or overall life.  It's simply the perfection of behavior.  No pressure, right?

And then she is born.  And that bundle of joy, who immediately assumes the center of your universe, suddenly shows perfection is not a given, nor is it her preference.  She opts for behavior more consistent with words such as "challenging" or "fussy." Perfection, she seemingly thinks, is dull and for the less interesting among us. 

Yep, my dear Grace is not the easiest child. I'm not sure if she deserves the label or stigma of "colicky," but she has her moments (I suspect more than her share of them).  Love her though I do, she's perhaps the world's (at least my family's) slowest eater (it takes the sweet child an hour to down four ounces).  She cries ever-so-frequently (and always when we're at a family gathering).  And her sleep schedule?  The babe just doesn't sleep much.  She doesn't seem to buy into the belief newborns require rest.  It's as though she looks at all the other newborns in the nearby strollers and taunts them with a quick quip of, "sleep is for sissies."

Now to be clear, I absolutely adore my child.  She already has personality.  And I even love that she's stubborn enough to "take a stand" at all of 10 weeks.  Not to mention, there isn't a parent in the world who doesn't count her blessings when her daughter arrives healthy and happy.  More often than not, she is "my" definition of perfection: delightfully impish, impossibly sweet and completely lovable.  When she coos, it's as though the whole world stops for me.

But to love Grace, is to be honest about all of Grace's "traits."  While we expected to live a new, more sleep-deprived life with our little one, Grace has brought it to a whole new level altogether.

Bottom line, she isn't perfect. But then here's the thing - we're not so perfect, either.  Grace may not realize it yet, but her mom and dad, grandmas and grandpa, her uncles, aunts and cousins will all probably disappoint her somehow, at some point in her life.  In fact, for every time she challenges our hopes for a quiet, "easy" baby, she's just giving us a head-start for that time later in life when we'll need the credit. 

Yes, it seems I've stumbled upon a basic and obvious notion, but one that remains powerful every time you realize it: that no mom, no dad, and certainly, no baby is perfect, at least not by the traditional definition.  But you clearly love them all the more for their so-called "imperfections."

I'll remember that the next time I feel like my entire day is spent feeding her.  I'll also remember that the next time my newborn "alarm clock" goes off at three a.m.  I'll definitely remember that the next time she looks at me and smiles.

And as for that reference to the community - a couple quick thoughts on recent events:

·      The Wetterling Family.  As with so many people in our state, my heart raced when I heard the news of a possible development in the case involving Jacob Wetterling, the 11-year-old abducted near his St. Joseph home more than 20 years ago.  To think his family could finally be on the brink of getting answers is unbelievable.  And it just may be unbelievable. After all, so many other leads have come and gone over the years.  But there's no question this family, who's weathered all those false hopes, deserves answers.  I hope and pray this latest lead is the last one.

·      And finally, how 'bout that Fourth of July?  Between a big bash at some dear friends' home in Forest Lake (my hometown) and a night with family and fireworks, I couldn't have asked for a better holiday.  It was the kind of day when you just kick back and savor the people in your lives.  If only we had a holiday every week!  Here's to finding our own ways to carve out some "holiday time."

So much more is going on, I realize, but for those still reading... I've taken enough of your time!  To all of you, I wish you more beautiful weeks of summer.  Enjoy.  Enjoy.  Enjoy.  Until next time, take care, and in the words of Mike Wallace, "do well and do good."




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