It's not easy having a baby during the Christmas season.
I'm standing in the card store, surrounded by peaceful images of mothers and babies. Mary gazes out from her Christmas card portrait, every hair and halo in place, her blue and gold gown spotless. She holds Jesus, the picture of baby perfection as he pats her gently on the cheek or sleeps contentedly in the manger. Even Joseph looks well rested.
I'm not well rested. I'm a first time mom with a newborn baby. My son stirs restlessly in his stroller as I browse the Christmas card selection. I avoid looking down for fear that I'm still wearing my slippers. I vaguely remember combing my hair this morning. I think I bathed recently.
I look again at Mary as if she might offer some word of parenting advice. Jesus probably went right down for naps, never had colic, never fussed but for a few brief moments. Not my boy. He's more like John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness. Funny that you never see Elizabeth and Zechariah in the Christmas card picture. They're probably chasing John, who's toddled off to get into something.
My son fusses and I grab a box of cards from the rack. You can never go wrong with the Wise Men and the star. I pay for my cards and hurry home.
Where is peace this Christmas? I just can't seem to find it anywhere. I used to have time to spend in prayer, in song, in study, in anticipation of the celebration of Christ's birth. Now, with a baby of my own, I'm just trying to get through each day. I want to feel a little of the peace we're all wishing each other this season, but peace is elusive.
When I get home I feed and change my son and place him in his bouncy seat. I put on some Christmas music to soothe our nerves. He cannot rest. He looks up at me expectantly, his lips quivering. He cries and I pray, “Lord, I need you to help me get through this day. I can't do it on my own.”
Then the gentle, rocking, lullaby beat begins.
Silent night... I gather my son into my arms and began to sway to the music.
Holy night.... We move together in the timeless waltz that mothers and babies have danced for generations.
All is calm. All is bright. For the first time I began to relax and he snuggles into my shoulder. The music envelops us like a warm blanket on that cold afternoon. His breathing deepens and I glide toward a mirror to see a smile spread across his face. I smile back. I can do this. With God's help, I can do this. Finally, there is peace ...heavenly peace.
We stay like that a long time, swaying and cooing, enjoying the feeling of love, the love of a mother for her child. How much greater the love of the Father for his children. If this is the only peace I experience this season – it is enough. Thank you Lord. Amen.
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