One day, many years ago, I gave to you a baby. A howling, trembling, helpless newborn, moist and warm from my womb. You didn’t know how to care for it, so I did that for you. I diapered it when it was wet. I bathed it when it was dirty. When it needed vaccinations, I took it to the doctor. The nurse stuck your perfect baby with a needle and made it cry. You didn’t know how to comfort it, or why the nurse had stuck it, so I cuddled the baby and I cried too.
Pretty soon your baby learned how to walk and even run. You didn’t know that much about the world, so I watched the baby for you to make sure it didn’t run into the street or get lost. Gradually, you learned how to feed and dress it. Sometimes you would put its shirt on backward, and I would straighten it out for you. Your baby did so many funny things, I took pictures so that we would both remember.
When the child grew bigger, you took it to school all by yourself. I was sad to see you were able to do that without me, but so proud of how responsible you were. You taught the youngster how to sit politely, raise its hand, and stand in the lunch line. You dressed your child all by yourself, and even got the shirt on front-wise most of the time. As you got older, I let you make decisions like how you wanted your child’s hair cut, and what activities you thought the child might enjoy. One day at a time, you were learning how to care for this little person I had given you.
Then the child grew to be a teenager and you had your hands full. You wanted to make all the decisions for this kid, but I knew you weren’t ready. Sometimes the child seemed like a baby again — wearing its clothes funny and running wildly into the street! Sometimes your child made very good decisions and I thought you might actually be able to control it. But I kept close just in case. Sometimes I shook my head. Sometimes I laughed. I took more pictures.
When your child was old enough, you taught it how to drive a car. Behind the wheel, all I could see was that newborn I had given you so long ago. And sometimes you put your baby into cars driven by other people’s babies. I didn’t understand how babies could drive, and it made me wait wide awake until you were home! I gave you a lot of guidelines for letting your youngster drive, but it was you who made sure your child was safe.
At times it seemed like you would never need me to help you with your baby ever again, and it hurt. But then the kid would do something really dumb and you would reach out to me for help. It felt good to be needed, but the problems were getting more complex. I hoped the things I had taught you were enough to help you guide this child through life.
Now look at you. Our baby is full-grown and you can take care of it all by yourself. I must admit you have done a wonderful job. I have only a few last requests.
- Please try to keep it safe and healthy.
- Avoid letting anyone hurt it, but never . . . NEVER let anyone hurt it twice.
- Speak kindly to it, because it has a good, tender heart.
- Make sure it is kind to the planet, animals, and all the humans who live here.
- Your baby may have grown into an adult on the outside, but it should never stop growing on the inside. It contains more potential than it will ever know.
Above all, please remember this is the most precious gift I have ever given anyone. All the riches in the world could not replace it. I grew this baby inside me so that one day you could take it out into world and make it your own. Please treat it with all the love and respect that I gave it when it was newly born. It may seem big, but it is still fragile and tiny in a very large world.
Peace . . .