Neediness

A bouncy chair sits in the living room. Burp cloths are draped over the back of the sofa. The laundry basket overflows with onesies and swaddling blankets and sleepers.

It would take a stranger about 0.5 seconds to realize that a baby lives here.

Now that I’m in Round Two of parenting a newborn, I’m struck anew by how much these little people NEED. The feedings, the diaper changes, the swaying and singing when fussy, the baths in the sink, the binky re-inserted after little hands knock it out of the mouth — it’s all a lot of work. My little guy is utterly helpless to do anything himself.

That makes it all the more jaw-dropping that God would actually choose to become a newborn. I’m not the first person to realize this, of course; plenty of homilies touch on this topic, particularly at Christmas. But I’ve got to say, when a little scrunched red angry person is actually in the house, the incredible nature of the Incarnation takes on a whole new immediacy. God chose to become an eight-pounder with a bundle of needs that could not be met except by others — primarily by his mom. She did the things that the infant God could not do for himself.

I think that this is why so many people make a big deal of honoring Mary. If you’ve spent any time raising a baby, you know firsthand that she matters. She matters a lot. She will be loved as long as women feed their tiny babies and bathe them and watch them grow into people who will, one day, be able to do all of this — and more — for themselves.

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