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Fragile Expectations: The Chronicles of Sadie

July 6th, 2009

Someone this past weekend commented to me in good fun that they are enjoying my musings over fatherhood and Sadie, but that they are also looking forward to our return to Proverbs.  All in good time, my friends!  I guarantee that we shall continue that sojourn soon; but again, I can’t help but take the next few days to reflect upon my little near-toddler treasure as the countdown has begun to her first birthday.

My next anecdote concerns an experience that honestly in the pre-baby days, terrified me: bath time.  I’ve never been afraid of babies; in fact, I’m probably more comfortable than most men with them.  I’m kind of a ham with the baby-talk and affection and what not . . . it’s just who I am.

However, I did carry a certain anxiety concerning little babies; you know, newborns.  They just seemed so tiny.  Fragile.  Breakable.  Ugh, I shudder even at the thought.  To most guys, that miniscule little bundle of soft, cooing humanity might as well be an egg who’s shell threatens to shatter at the slightest hint of movement.  I think that we anticipate that little head just rolling right off the shoulders!  I know, I know . . . it’s horrible . . . but it’s high-time someone tell the truth about the male anxiety regarding newborns.

Couple that with the imagined experience of getting that little horrifyingly fragile person wet, slippery, and even more droppable, well . . . you’ve got the makings of a nice ulcer.  Just ask a few guys who’s wives are pregnant with their first child.  I’m not making this stuff up.

So when that little “Sadie Burrito” (see previous blogs for explanation) was finally laid in my arms, emotional security began to build that she wouldn’t just crumble to pieces at any moment.  In fact, she seemed quite resilient . . . within reason.  I began to learn that babies are quite flexible . . . even malleable.  They are like little bundles of cartilage whose heads and limbs change shapes and positions for months to come.  Sadie no longer seemed nearly as fragile . . . she seemed more like a little elastic superhero!

Thus, my anxiety lessened concerning the upcoming maiden voyage of the bath boat.  Laura and I had heard that babies love baths . . . that they were soothing and relaxing for all parties involved.  Yeah, that sounded nice!  

So, after the first few days at home, we prepared ourselves for the magical experience by putting the little “newborn bathing tub” over the sink and gathering the assortment of camomile and lavender baby shampoos and lotions for nothing less than a day at the baby spa.  My mother-in-law even got the camera ready so that we could capture this mystical moment for all time.

The warm water was ready and the room was enchanted with the alluring aromas.  We undressed Sadie and placed her in the tub when much to our surprise, she began to scream bloody murder at the top of her lungs.  We thought she might get used to it after a few moments . . . we were wrong . . . terribly wrong!  

Sadie became so upset that her little naked body turned beet red as her cries rose into the night sky . . . awakening the heavens with her bloodcurdling tortuous shrieks of horror.  I later theorized that in her little mind, she was being made to return to the confines of the womb and she was not going quietly again into that still night.  It made for a nice photo (see below).  The moment we anticipated . . . a moment of rest and beauty . . . quickly morphed into the speediest sponge bath in history.  We almost called Guinness!

First Bath

Sometimes . . . well, all the time . . . what we expect is completely different from what we experience.  Expectation and experience are cousins that speak different languages  and live on different sides of the world.  Are they related?  You bet!  Do they even remotely resemble each other?  Maybe only in some obscure physical features.

No other example is more readily observable than in our daily walk with Jesus.  What we expect is usually different from what we experience.  It isn’t all idealistic comfort, excitement, and restfulness . . . no, it’s better!  It’s a real life experience!  

Maybe that’s why James says, “Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1: 1-4 NLT).

In other words, when the “baby” you expected to “coo” suddenly becomes possessed with infant ire, realize that you’re living real faith in a real life . . . spiritually, of course.  Trouble doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong; it may mean that something is right!  

That initial bath moment wasn’t what we were expecting, but it became a memory of great joy.  And it’s okay because later on, Sadie became a huge fan of baths . . . of which I will write more in the future.  Simply put, we mustn’t let unrealistic expectations rob us of the joy of our actual experience.  As Oswald Chambers said, “Let God be as unique with you as He is with everybody else.”  Sometimes the moment you least expect will become the memory you most greatly cherish.

My Red Beet Baby


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