In Praise of the Babymoon


It was one of those days when I’d ventured out into the world and wondered, wished, really, for the seemingly impossible. It was an “in the world, but not of the world” kind of day, only the world was winning. If only the whole world operated on a Catholic mindset. If only everyone understood that the primary purpose of a marriage is to create and nurture a family. If only they understood that this work — this blessed, beautiful work of welcoming and raising precious souls entrusted to the care of parents — is the best, most important thing. If only they’d quit heaping assignment upon assignment and deadline upon deadline.

As I moved from one earthly demand to another, trying (and often failing) not to rush, not to stress, not to bend and break under the pressures of our culture, I wished that all those frayed edges could just be woven together into a simple weekend at home. I wanted to tell all the people, the ones who were pushing and pulling and tearing away at the fiber of peace and order at home, that this isn’t the way we are all created. This isn’t how it was meant to be. We are Sabbath people. We need rest. Further, we need time together as a family to learn all those important things that people in families teach one another. Things like prudence and temperance and justice and fortitude. It is my considered opinion that the world is sorely in need of more families committed to virtue, so that as we move in the world, the world is a little more sane.

I rushed through that day, from doctor to grocery to dance school to a hurried piling in the car of one young soccer player and a drive at sunset to goalie training. Just as we got there, the heavens opened up and lightning crackled overhead. “Go!” said his coach. “Go find shelter and sit out the storm for at least a half hour.” Nick and I looked at each other and grinned. Just seven minutes away was a shelter like no other in its warmth and light. As the lightning continued to crackle while we drove, Nick grinned victorious — he knew that the 30 minute clock reset with every latest lightning flash. Now we can stay until 7:37. Now 7:40. Now 7:44. If we get to 8:00, maybe they’ll just cancel the whole training.

We stepped into the pounding rain and ran up all 35 steps, and there, there in the warm, dry glow of evening at home, was Lucy. Nick didn’t even ask, but scooped her up into his damp arms and settled happily against the quilt-strewn couch. For the next hour and a half (practice was canceled after all), we were privileged to enter into the haven that is a newborn baby.

Lucy is my first granddaughter. I suppose I could gush at great length about how amazing she is and how wondrous the last week has been since she came into our world, but I think I’ll just mention instead, that a “babymoon” is a very good thing.

A babymoon is that time when a new mother and father wholeheartedly devote themselves to learning all about their baby and, even more, to dancing together as a family. It’s a sleep-deprived, hazy existence that centers around the very basics of a child’s eating and sleeping. It’s ridiculously simple and at the same time all-encompassing and uniquely demanding. It’s one of the few times in the life of a family that all the world stands a bit apart and affirms the need a family has for quiet and rest and understanding and unwavering support. A miracle happens in a home where there is a babymoon, and those of us who can stop, even for a few moments, and bask in the glow of the good are blessed beyond compare to even stand on the periphery.

Like every other family, this little family will one day juggle schedules and carpools and missing ballet slippers. They will worry about budget and books. They will seek that elusive “balance” between work and leisure. For now, though, they are granted the great gift of seeing clearly that the only important thing is right before them, that a baby sees most clearly the eyes of the person who loves her when she’s held at the lover’s heart. Close. There is no doubt that something happens to the one who beholds a child held there. He becomes a better version of himself.

The storm outside clears, and we must leave, going down all those steps and into the night, going out into traffic and faulty defoggers and cell phones that don’t stop ringing. The scent of the newborn still on our hands, we reach up and rub weary eyes. Inhale. We take her with us — the very essence of the best of us.

Perhaps a babymoon shouldn’t be reserved only for families with newborns. Perhaps, like second honeymoons, it would benefit families to revisit the babymoon on occasion. The art of raising holy children — the work of becoming our Creator’s best vision of ourselves — takes time and careful attention. It cannot happen in the constant rush to get somewhere else with maximum efficiency. It cannot happen when a smartphone screen is the first impulse in the morning and the last touch of the evening. Maybe it’s time to come in out of the storm and gather into our arms a precious soul — no matter how old — who longs to be held just for a while at only a heart’s distance.

 {All photos credited to Michael and Kristin Foss}