|Christmas greetings, as we celebrate the birth of the Child.|
As the Christmas season approaches each year, it is usual in our family to not only send our greetings but to briefly summarise the highlights of the previous year.
I have always found this a challenge, wanting to say something worth hearing, without being tedious. The recipients of our letter include our families and close friends, with whom we communicate by phone, email, and in person as often as we can; and other friends, some of whom we have not seen for many years, and with whom we communicate only once a year.
I have been reflecting on the highs (and lows) of this year 2010, and my mind has returned consistently to the two new babies, James and Eve, who were born into our family in May, and who are thriving in mind and body. The wonder and beauty of new life is powerful enough to keep me going for as long as I have energy to think and write.
Like ripples in a pond, my thoughts have then moved to our precious grand-daughter Poppy, and beyond her to our own four children. I have remembered my own mother, and the generations of mothers before her.
Grand-parents are allowed to dote, quite openly, on their grand-children. Parents are often more cautious. Parents carry the weight of many responsibilities, and often struggle to achieve what they consider basic, such as feeding, clothing, educating, teaching manners, and getting the children to bed on time.
In my musings about our grand-children, and our children, my thoughts moved to the story of a baby, in Exodus 2.
"The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months." (verse 2)
Another version says he was "a goodly child".
The story is well known. After three months the mother made a little basket of papyrus, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch to make it water-proof, and set in in the shallow reedy part of the Nile river where the princess would come to wash. She set her daughter Miriam as the onlooker, ready to offer practical assistance of a Hebrew 'wet nurse', the baby's own loving mother, when the princess also saw that he was a fine baby, and decided to keep him. This decision saved the life of that baby boy.
When the birth of a child is welcomed by a mother who sees that this is "a goodly child", and that mother does all in her power to protect and nurture the child, even in the most adverse circumstances, there is hope for the future. It was no miracle that the mother of the child saw that he was "a goodly child", and defied the government of the day in the most strategic way in looking after him. The miracle was that the princess shared in the vision of "a goodly child". She knew exactly what the mother intended, and she agreed with the mother's plan to save that child's life.
When a child is born there is a flooding of the love hormone, oxytocin, throughout the mother's body, in a way that she can only experience at such a time. This outpouring continues with each touch, look, and suckle from the infant. It is right for a mother to look at her child and see "a goodly child". It is right and normal for a mother to use every strategy at her disposal to ensure the safety and nurture of that child, while maintaining the closeness of the exclusive mothering bond during the infant's first years.
I want to encourage every parent who reads this blog, to take a moment to look at your child, and see that she or he is wonderfully special, a child with great potential. See that your child is "a goodly child". Whatever the challenges you face in ensuring the safety and care of that child, so that she or he can grow to unhindered maturity emotionally and physically, keep your vision clear, and remember the mother whose child was wonderfully saved in infancy, and later became a great leader.
I also want to encourage midwives who read my writings to see each child as carrying immense and unmeasurable potential. We midwives are the guardians of the next generation, protecting the mothers in their ability to not only give birth, but also to see their children for what they are.
May God's blessing be on you as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.