She is a little love. Just writing Mae’s name makes me smile. She has her moments–times when she is fussy and requires attention or bouncing, but they are few and she is never inconsolable. I have realized that THIS is why people love babies so much. I have always loved my own babies, but it was a love fraught with exhaustion. A love forged through hard work towards a common goal. Mae is not this way. She is…pleasant. I did not know it was possible for a baby to be pleasant in their natural, unmanipulated state. But if every baby were like this one, I might have had 10.
I can sit her down and she will quietly and curiously observe the world around her, at least for a little while, before making a small whimper or grunt to request some attention. Now that she is becoming more coordinated, she will lay on her play mat and bat and kick at dangling objects with an intensity that shows her excitement and discovery. If you smile at her, and don’t wane in your enthusiasm, you will be rewarded with smile in return–often immediately.
Mae coos and “talks” with so much animation that I am spell-bound when she gets chatty and have trouble dragging myself away (no matter how great the needs are swirling around me). Maybe each baby gets to be the darling of the family, but Mae baby is definitely our darling at present. Our night-time routine is for Jeremiah to do story and prayer time with Pace, Mary Aplin, and Jay Paul, while I give Mae her bath and get her swaddled and ready for bed. There is a moment when I walk from the nursery to the stairs and pass by the door where all four of my other loves are piled on the bed. Jeremiah’s story is always interrupted by squealing requests for kisses from Mae. Sometimes they can’t wait for me to take the 6 steps from the hallway to their bed and a queue forms at my feet, each waiting impatiently for their moment with our girl. Other times their Daddy holds them at bay so that Mae can join them all on the bed for a blanket of kisses all at once–a free-for-all to see who can get closest to her face. If I have moments where I fret for Mae, being the baby of four, worrying that she doesn’t get the same attention that the other babies have received from Jeremiah and me…those moments are reversed by these. When I realize that no amount of love we give could equal the sum of love she receives from her sisters and brother.
I am going to keep this short, since Mae just had a birth story and doesn’t require a RE-introduction, but I wanted to include a part of a poem that I read recently. It is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and it resonated with me, as though a grown Mae were whispering in my ear. The fact that Jay Paul gave MyMae her nickname, is what–I believe–made this section of a poem called “The Name” stand out to me:
…My brother gave that name to me
When we were children twain;
When names acquired baptismally
Were hard to utter as to see
That life had any pain.
No shade was on us then, save one
Of chestnuts from a hill–
And through the word our laugh did run
As part thereof! The mirth being done,
He calls me by it still!
Nay, do not smile! I hear in it
What none of you can hear;
The talk upon the willow seat,
The bird and wind that did repeat
Around, our human cheer!
I hear the birthday’s noisy bliss,
My sister’s woodland glee,–
My father’s praise, I did not miss,
What time he stooped down to kiss
The poet at his knee,…