I know you’ve seen them, those Johnson & Johnson ads – the black and white ones with the cutest of babies and the voiceovers. One has the chubbiest little boy you’ve ever seen sitting in the sink taking a bath grinning a large toothless grin. He splashes around as a voice ponders, “You always went for the tall, dark, handsome types. So who’d have ever thought the love of your life would be short and bald?” And then after a brief pause to build effect, says, “Having a baby changes everything.”
The birth of a baby is one of those sacred moments that takes our concrete, no nonsense world and in a moment transforms it into a place that’s at once mysterious and magical and at the same time perplexing and full of terror. You can’t get over how small his fingers are. You giggle at the recognition that he has that funny little flap on his ears like his mother. You wonder in delighted expectation at what this newest of lives might become.
But along with all the new found joy you can’t help but recognize new fears. You find yourself looking intently at his miniscule lips asking yourself again and again, “Is he still breathing?” You eye every guest who holds him with suspicion, “Have they been sick recently? Did they wash their hands?” He seems so fragile, so helpless, so small. Your can barely watch the evening news with its stories of senseless death, its reports of disease and famine, its images of war without wondering, “What kind of world have I brought this child into?”
Because the greater truth is, while my baby’s birth has changed my world, his birth hasn’t changed the world. It’s really quite remarkable. On the one hand my immediate world pauses for a glimpse at LIFE – new life – life full of promise and possibility – complete strangers pause and wish you congratulations. It seems as if the world is at peace – but then you see the headlines and realize that the world continues to fall apart. Oh, we long for a day when there could be an end to war, or pollution, or rape, or kidnapping, or drug use – we look at our new born child and think – surely for our children we would change – we have to change – and then we don’t. We keep on sinning. I keep on sinning. The world keeps on sinning. We keep on polluting and robbing and hurting one another. And sometimes we even do so to our own families. If making babies was all the world needed to reverse its course then the world would have righted its ship long ago.