Waking up at 5 a.m. has never been my forte. I’m used to going to bed around then. I never even changed a diaper before my daughter was born. And yet, here I am, 12 months later, still marveling. How is it that such a little person can inspire so much commitment and love?
“We’re still in the grace period,” my wife used to joke when we were dating, meaning bickering and disagreements were rare as we were first getting to know each other.
I’m starting to wonder, though, how long does a grace period last with your kid?
Ravi was born six weeks prematurely and right on time. She shook our worlds like an earthquake as we were thrust into parenthood. What did we know? Cleansing breaths, guide books, yoga, our young nephews and niece, baby cousins, and siblings could never prepare us for that first night home alone with our daughter.
A year has passed and Ravi continues to inspire. A laugh, a smile glittering with her shiny two teeth, sitting, clapping hands, a backwards crawl, a tantrum and silent cries which then amass to the loudest screams; these are our deepest anticipations and sources of naches, unfiltered joy. We see the life we have brought into this world blossom into her own being right before our very eyes.
But it is seeing the impact she has on others that is truly remarkable.
Recently, we took our daughter to visit a dear friend whose mother is severely ill. Told by the doctors she would die two months ago when she showed up at the emergency room, our friend’s mother now rests at home, battling cancer and holding onto what remains of her life.
We arrive at their apartment and sit with my friend, his father, and sister for a few minutes. Ravi has just woken up from her nap and she takes in her new surroundings. She’s comfortable around people she’s never met and quickly warms up to them. Ravi sits on the floor, bobbing up and down, accompanied with a few toys and my friend and his sister, giggling along.
Our friend’s mother enters the room in a bathrobe, thin and frail. We rise to greet her, when suddenly, she starts to cry. She sits down and looks at Ravi, who is smiling.
“Can I hold her?” our friend’s mother asks.
“Of course,” we say.
She lifts Ravi closely so they are face to face. How intensely Ravi stared, our baby’s tiny fingers pressing up to her frail cheeks. Our friend’s mother begins to laugh. She smiles widely and cries fully and it’s as if all in the living room have taken a communal sigh.
“It’s a cliche, but I’m allowed to say it,” the mother says. “Enjoy every moment.”
I glance at my friend who is looking at his mother play with Ravi. When we leave, he thanks us deeply for sharing our little one with his mom.
We take the subway home and watch the passengers watch our baby and the other children on the F train. The innocence, light, and potential of a baby is magnetic. Even when a baby cries, can you really ignore their call? It either gnaws at your heart or makes you restless; either way, it speaks to the soul.
Ravi, we’ll keep trying to decipher your cries and eventually, teach you to speak and sing, too. We’ll lift you when you fall and hold you when you cry, we’ll push you to try new things and encourage you to never be afraid of yourself–to think deeply, feel strongly, and act passionately. We’ll keep on trying to be our best, too. Happy Birthday.