I think the best part of any human culture is the love of a parent for a child.
“This age is best.”
I was chatting with a young mother who was clearly infatuated with her beautiful newborn.
“All she does is eat and sleep,” she continued, planting a kiss on the infants nose, “and she’s so cuddly, I can barely bring myself to put her down. I wish she’d stay just like this.
I smiled to myself, remembering similar thoughts as a new mother. I didn’t tell her she would feel this way no matter what age the child was. I decided to let her discover that for herself.
When my first baby was born, I felt like I’d been given the gift of a lifetime; a sweet smelling bundle of flannel and baby powder, so tiny and helpless that it made my heart ache. When I looked at babies that were even a month older, they seemed huge and awkward in comparison. I fervently wished mine would stay just the way he was.
But before long he began to wake up. He had a goofy smile, and loved to wave his fists and kick his legs. Soon he was trying to roll over and at five months he began to sit up. We had great fun propping him like a little Buddha and taking roll after roll of pictures. Yes, we decided, this age was best.
At a year he began to stand and take a few wobbly steps. You’d have thought he’d learned to fly for all the fuss we made. What fun, what a joy. This age was best!
When he started to jabber his first baby words, we were charmed and immediately put him on the phone to a long-suffering Grandma. Tape recordings ensued, and more pictures. And wonder of wonders, while I admired my friend’s tiny newborn, I found myself thinking, “boring”, newborns don’t do anything but eat and sleep. Mine’s a lot more fun.
The terrible twos weren’t really so terrible. The threes were a joy and suddenly he was five, and off to school. I cried as I sent him out into the world, but was so pleased at his progress. He’d come home with pictures he’d painted, and a head full of new facts to share with his parents; and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was best time.
Before we knew it, our son’s life revolved around sports. There was soccer at which he excelled, and little league baseball at which he did not. But even as we consoled our itenierent bench warmer and suffered his frustrated tears, we knew that this was a good age too.
He eventually grew into his body and quit tripping over every blade of grass, but as soon as he graduated from this awkward stage, along came the teenage years. No one, not even the most sentimental of mothers would tell you this age is best, but there is something to be said for the old adage that you love best, the one who needs you most.
We hung on through the roller coaster ride of adolescence, and Mr. Hyde slowly became Dr. Jeckyl again. As time passed, I found myself having meaningful conversations with this new creature and laughing at his jokes; brief glimpses of inherent beauty, like a bright penny emerging from layers of tarnish. Could this age be the best?
Not long ago I had tickets to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir Concert. The choir was appearing with, a famous Welsh opera singer. I’d been looking forward to this event for months, but when the date finally arrived my husband was under the weather. All of my friends were otherwise occupied, and since no one was available to accompany me, I decided to go alone. When my 21-year old son learned of my plan, he objected.
“You can’t go by yourself,” he said from under the hood of his car.
“Of course I can. I won’t get lost.”
“But it won’t be fun,” he insisted. “I’ll go with you.”
When I explained the nature of the concert, his face paled visibly under the layer of car grime, but the offer stood firm. Luckily for my son, his father perked up and decided to go with me after all. But my baby got ten points for trying. Touched by his concern, I was sorely tempted to say, “This age is best! But I know better now, because . . .
One of these days when I’m ninety and my children are in their sixties one of them will push my wheelchair up a mountain because I can no longer hike. Maybe they’ll read me the entire tome of War and Peace when my own sight fails, and I’ll dab my dainty lace hankie to my eyes and declare in a feeble voice, “This is it. This age is definitely the best of all!”
That young mother with her new baby has much to look forward to. I hope she enjoys every minute of it.