After seeing a young family at church, he reminisces about the early days of parenthood.
Posted in , Apr 27, 2022
There was no place I’d rather be on a Sunday morning than in a church pew with my wife, Angela, especially when our daughter, Marissa, was sitting between us. But wanting to be there didn’t keep my mind from wandering. Such was life with ADHD. It didn’t take much to distract me, especially during the sermon. This morning I couldn’t keep my eyes off the baby in the pew in front of me. I admired the big pink bow wrapped around her head.
Angela put a bow just like that on Marissa when she was that age, I thought, my mind flying back to those first few months of parenthood. I glanced over at my now grown-up daughter and back to the child in front of me. The baby’s mother was focused on the precious gift in her arms. I’d seen that new mother’s expression many times on my wife’s face. The image was so clear in my mind: Angela holding baby Marissa in her arms, rocking her to sleep, the two of them gazing at each other like there was no one else in the world. Was there anything more joyful?
Movement ahead of me pulled me out of the memory. The new father had also turned his attention away from the sermon. He reached out to the baby, who lifted up a tiny fist in answer. Her chubby hand wrapped around his finger, and I could almost feel Marissa gripping my own finger for the very first time.
Marissa nudged me as the congregation stood to sing. She smiled at me over her hymn book, and I quickly found my place. When we took our seats again, the baby had fallen asleep, perhaps lulled by the music. At the sight of her peaceful face, I recalled Marissa in a white lace gown, sleeping through her christening. As if flipping through a photo album, I saw Marissa walking down the aisle to her first communion, confident at her confirmation, satin dresses at Christmas, bright pastels at Easter.
The couple in front of me scooted closer. Dad took the baby in his arms, and I was gripped by a powerful longing to be that couple again. To be younger and thinner, to have dark hair. To be able to cradle Marissa in my arms again, our whole lives ahead of us.
I should tell them what I know now that I didn’t know then, I thought as the service came to a close. “Cherish all these simple times with her,” I would say, “because those times zoom by at a speed that’s truly unfair.”
I leaned forward to tap the young father on the shoulder—but something stopped me. They were already cherishing this moment together, an angel in their arms. Our family was older now, maybe a little wiser. But we had many simple times still to cherish, including this one.
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