I hadn’t seen myself as a baby holder, yet here I was. Sometimes experiences just come along at the right time. I had heard from my meditation teacher and others that I should hold my own experiences with gentleness. Yet somehow, this had remained a concept rather than a physical reality. This week something settled in me as I gathered up the sobbing baby.
Perhaps it was into the second day of rocking the sleeping baby in the glider that I ran out of nursery rhymes. Undaunted, I sang an aria from Tale of the Missing Sock, an original opera for soprano voice inspired by one bare foot. When the baby’s mother tiptoed into the room with a glass of water, she caught the closing notes of my lament for the missing sock, a tune crooned in the soprano voice I crafted while living in Japan, where a high voice connoted a sweet and gentle woman.
Apparently, during the quiet time my gentle rocking provided, mom had been catching up on her work. For the time I was able to give her, she was exceptionally grateful. And I was grateful too. Who would have guessed how much bliss I would find cradling, rocking, singing and holding stillness for this large, sleeping baby boy.
Sunday afternoon was my third go at holding the baby, so daddy could drive the real grandmother to a friend’s house across the city and mom could sleep an hour.
Hard to believe that only three days before, I beheld a sobbing, seemingly inconsolable baby I had never seen. Nobody told me that holding this baby, his face on my shoulder, his breath sweet, his dreams sounding from his throat against my cheek could sink so deeply into my being. Yet this was what happened. Hours passed as I sang, rocked, patted and ran my hand up and down his back, occasionally adjusting his head when it lolled too far on my shoulder.
Sadness came. I had given birth to three of my own screaming, hungry sons, none of whom I could recall having held with this much patience and gentleness. My babies had not had a mother able or with time to be gentle, to give herself totally to holding, soothing and singing arias about missing socks.
Yet being with this baby is more about gladness and gratitude than about sadness and regret. My sons grew up to nurture children or pets of their own. And here I am unexpectedly with a chance to nurture myself, to experience the gentleness called up in my heart by a child of strangers. I see how I can cuddle and rock my own inner life with the same care as I cradle this baby boy.