I’ve been obsessed by babies lately. If they aren’t a tangible, down-to-earth, in-your-hands-and-ears evidence that God exists, then I don’t know what is.
Watch a pregnant woman balloon from conception to delivery, and tell me you are not able to look at the end product with dumbstruck awe. How did a single cell become this amazing, magical being with waving arms and legs and poop and howls? And then look at everyone else around you and tell me you are not even more dumbstruck at how that little amazing, magical being eventually becomes a regular, dime-a-dozen adult.
When they are just born, babies look like old people, which makes me wonder if that is how they must have looked in their previous lives. Once their old faces wear off and they become spanking new again, they’re gorgeous! I think babies from three months to about ten months are the cutest of them all — before they start walking and talking and imitating the grown ups around them. I often end up in wordless conversations – communicating only through baby gaggle and gestures and funny facial expressions – with babies this age I come across in malls or at family gatherings, and almost all babies respond to me with as much delight in me as I have in them. What radiant smiles! I love these angels when they are raw, pure, unadulterated packages of divine love, untouched by mental constructs and judgements.
I had two lovely babies, but unfortunately, I was too blinded by these above mental constructs to truly enjoy them. I lived in a different world (my dark ages are referenced here again) and I was preoccupied with others’ opinions of me. I was also relatively young, unwise, and had not seen much of the world. So I spent much less time admiring and loving my babies than I should have. Years later, I regretted it and beat myself up for it often – what untold damage had I done my daughters in my ignorance? What wasted potential, of myself as a mother and of them as new citizens of the world? Oh, I bashed myself good.
But then, fortunately, I also learnt that the mind is a wonderful tool. I sometimes go back into the suitcases of my memory, tucked away in the attic of my heart, and take those moments out lovingly. I look at them, play them over and over in my careful hands, re-create and re-savour them. I massage those little beings, my fingers tingling with love over their smiling, writhing bodies; I run my fingers over their soft, downy heads; I blow into their tummies, sending them into hysterical giggles; I hold their tiny hands and feet with wonder; I cuddle them as they sleep in my arms; and oh, sometimes, I breastfeed them in my imagination all over again. Now there’s a taste of heaven for you. It feels like liquified love, pouring out of your heart and into your baby’s little mouth. Nothing compares.
Being a mother is a bit like playing God. Women have a raw deal in many things, but when it comes to childbirth, we are Kingdom Come. The sensations – of them kicking inside your tummy, latching on to your nipples, touching your face with their little hands. The feelings – of possessiveness tinged with pain, of love with fatigue, of proud delight with irrational fear. There is nothing quite like this to be found anywhere in the repertoire of human experiences.
Sigh, if babies aren’t God, I don’t know what is.