On almost every list of “Things You Don’t Need for a New Baby” is a wipe warmer. Not only did a wipe warmer seem like a waste, going against my minimalistic tendencies, but it also seemed silly to spoil the baby so that he was only used to warm wipes. What if you were out in public and only had cold ones? What if he pitched a fit when he felt the cold wipe?
In a hand-me-down bag from my cousin was a wipe warmer. Very reluctantly, I decided to use it. I plugged it up, terrified that I would now spoil my baby.
In my almost-seven months of motherhood, I’ve learned one thing: we sometimes worry too much about spoiling babies. I have read the books that talk about raising resilient children. And I want Liam to grow up to be resilient and tough. I want him to stand firm and yet be flexible enough to operate well in a changing world. I don’t want him to think the whole world revolves around him. And I don’t want to coddle him so that he can’t handle the world.
But there is also no reason for me to intentionally make his life difficult just to prepare him for the challenges of the world. Why not have nice warm wipes at home for him to make his diaper changes a little more pleasant? He can easily adapt when we are out. I don’t have to invent lessons to teach him to be tough. I’m the one who should be constantly gentle, loving, and supportive so he has a place when things get tough. He’ll have to learn to deal with mean people and harsh situations. There will be plenty of times for him to experience cold diaper wipes.
Yes, we can overpraise children and make them feel that they are the center of the world. But I don’t think that intentionally making things tough at home or refusing to be gentle when they fall is going to ruin them in this way. If anything, the safer they feel at home–the more special and loved they are–the stronger they will be to deal with all the brokenness in the world.
God tells His people over and over how special they are as a people. They are his treasured possession, his children, his sheep. He tells them that he rejoices over them with singing and that they are engraved on the palms of his hands. When we rest secure in our identity as a chosen people and His love, we are free to love others, free to lay down our lives for them.
I have only benefitted in my life by knowing how much my parents care about me–how much they are willing to sacrifice for me. It has made me want to rise up and do the same for others in my own life. It has made me a better student, a better teacher, a better wife, and a better mother.
Sometimes I feel guilty when it takes extra walking and rocking to get my son to sleep. I hear in my head, “You’re spoiling him. He’ll never learn to fall asleep on his own.” But I think of my own mom–always gentle when I couldn’t sleep. I picture her patience. I think of what I would want someone to do if I was having trouble sleeping. So I keep rocking. And most of the time, I keep wipes in the wipe warmer.
There’s enough harshness in the world; I want this gentleness, this love, these pleasant hours and days to seep into his soul. I hope they will be powerful enough to help overcome the cynicism, harshness, and despair he may one day face. I hope these blurry, warm memories will point him to a God who is infinitely more gracious, loving, and gentle than I am–the God who overcomes the darkness and the cold.