“He’s teething up a storm!” the pediatrician said, when we took both of our children—3 years old and 5 months old—for a doctor visit two days before Christmas. Both children had been sick with cold-like symptoms, and—as we know—even “simple” cold symptoms are nothing to mess with in a pandemic. It turns out our 3 year old had a sinus infection, and, with several doses of bubble-gum pink liquid antibiotic later, she’s bounding around the house and playing pretend with baby dolls, princesses, knights, and dragons as much as ever before. And our baby boy is…teething. It’s still a rough and painful-looking time for him, especially at night. But now we have a name for it. And ways to handle it, like infant pain medicine and cold wash cloths and (safe) chew-able toys.
Over Advent, as I’ve struggled with the state of the world, I’ve found my grounding and glimpses of God’s still-there goodness in my children. The darndest, delightful things my singing, dancing, galloping, hugging 3 year old says and does. The sweet coos, ferocious squeals, and heart-melting, sunbeam smiles of my 5 month old. And on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I remember holding my infant and feeling some of the awe that Mary must have felt, cradling her newborn baby. This child, whom angels and prophets and shepherds and magical astronomers declared a world-changing king. And he must have been so tiny. And he probably spit up a lot on that lovely blue robe we often see Mary wearing. And he had lots and lots of diapers to be changed. And he drooled and fussed through the night while his parents worried and held him gently, wondering helplessly what was wrong…until a pearly tooth popped through his swollen gums.
This. This baby—with movements, sounds, and facial expressions, growth and pains and joys just like my own baby—is the One that many of us believe to be the Savior of the world. Savior—such a tall order in a tiny form. Just a baby. But what a dynamic way to see, truly, that God-is-with-us…in our drool and spit-up, in our pain, in our anxiety, in our beauty, in the moments our hearts could burst with joy and wonder. I hold my baby at 5:whatever in the morning, and I feel and know that God was and is in our flesh. God is with us, God is with us….