holding the baby

Every once in a while, we get to babysit my nieces, and each time I am struck by how easily and naturally they fit into our family. I look around the supper table, at the three-year-old curled into the captain’s chair at the end announcing loudly, “Jennifer, I like pizza!” (because her mother taught her not to ask for food, so she only states her likes, never her wants), and at the baby on my son’s lap, and I think, If we had continued having children, this would be our family. It’s sweet.

What’s also sweet is that my husband gets all possessive about taking care of the baby. We all do, actually, but that my husband is counted in the “all” is rather exceptional. It’s exceptional for three reasons:

1. He doesn’t really like babies.
2. He’s not a baby person.
3. The only reason he held our babies was because I got tired of holding them.

So I’m exaggerating a little, yes. But it’s solidly true that he’s not a gushy-mushy, gotta-have-my-baby-fix sort of person. He’s generally perfectly content to completely ignore the little Bundles of Joy.

But last night after supper, I handed him the squawking, tired little creature, and said, “She needs to be changed. And give her a bath while you’re at it.”

“A bath? Are you serious?”

“Of course.”

Off he went to the bathroom mumbling things like, “I don’t remember how to do this anymore.” Over the running bath water, I could hear him talking to the baby. The soothing “Shh, it’s okay” talk soon turned to, “Okay, okay! Enough already! I’m hurrying as fast as I can!” And then he hollered to me, “Hey! What am I supposed to use for soap?”

“Use my face cleanser. It’ll be gentle enough.”

When he re-entered the room a few minutes later, towel-wrapped babe tucked under his arm, the kids swarmed him like he was the pied piper, clamoring for a turn to hold her.

“Are you kidding?” he said, stuffing her waving arms into the sleeper. “I just gave her a bath. I’m not giving her up now. It’s my turn to hold her.”

And so he did.

This same time, years previous: a touchy subject (to spank or not to spank),


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