I have a niece. She is just over two weeks old, and from 1,000 miles away, she has captivated my world.
I got the voicemail much earlier than expected: “Your sister is in labor!” Colleen and Devin were anxious to meet her, and I guess little Raegan was anxious to meet her parents too, because she arrived three weeks before her due date. Within the morning, there was a baby in this world, where before there was none. An actual life, where before there was empty space- a nursery ready and waiting, the tiniest clothes you can imagine, and plenty of diapers.
I had planned to stay in NYC for the Easter holiday, thanks to schedule juggling and exorbitant airfares. But once my niece was born, those same flights began to look exceptionally reasonable, and I booked one and flew to Florida lickety-split.
I met Raegan in her first week on this planet. I always knew I would love her dearly. But how it happened for me was very quiet, very still. As I held her, this little person who depended on the world around her to keep her safe, I felt calm. It is one of my purposes to help care for this child in any way that I can. To make her feel loved, supported, held…..so much so that my sister had to remind me “She does need to learn to sleep in her bed and not just in your arms at some point.” :)
Once I returned to New York after the most wonderful visit, she stayed with me. Light as a feather, delicate and fragile, yet already strong and with her own unique and feisty personality. I thought about how sometimes as teachers, we ask our students to treat themselves as gently as they would treat children. To cradle them, make them feel loved, supported, and held. Holding an actual baby really drives the point home. It also requires a certain confidence to take responsibility for a life- I must be a little stronger and steadier so that I can care for another- or for myself. The different parts of “us”- body, mind, spirit, and whatever else you like- are meant to clasp one another in the closest, gentlest embrace.