Recollection

The Question: Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us today?

My “baby” is nine. The sweet smell of Baby Magic on her neck blurs beyond recall, like most of that time. I write to remember; yet words are not experiences. Occasionally, we are blessed with circumstances to help us remember—with real senses—the events in the past.

On a rainy weekend afternoon I wrapped myself in a blanket in my favorite recliner to read a book. I absorbed the story for a couple of hours and felt a tad guilty. But dinner was leftover calzone that just needed reheating, and no one needed me.

The phone rang. Thirty minutes later I brought a baby home from the hospital. A friend’s adult daughter was sick, and she asked me if I could watch her infant granddaughter. Telling our children we were going out for an errand, Paul and I met her at the hospital and then returned home with a baby sleeping in her car seat.

Her baby sleep noises—like the ones that used to keep me awake wondering and worrying—were now soothing to listening to while I finished my book. My “baby” sat by this new baby’s feet watching the waking up process. She hadn’t experienced little fingers grasping her finger or the close-up softness of a two-month-old infant in her own house.

“Does she want a toy? I can get her some blocks,” my daughter said.

“No, she will just want to look into your face and have you smile at her.”

But her needs were more. More than I had remembered. Awake and immediately hungry. I forgot how a baby cries and cries and words like, “I’ll be right there,” don’t halt the crying while you fix a bottle.

In those cries I pressed my mind to remember how to mix formula. Did I put the powder in the bottle first or after the water? I poured the powder in first then filled it to the top with water. It clumped together.

The baby cried. Oh, what was her name. I could not remember. Sue? Cindy Lou Who? I picked her up and tried to soothe her while mixing the clumping mess with the other hand. Cold water; I had used cold. Ugh.

I put her down in her car seat. “Will you watch her for a minute?” I said to my daughter. I tried to heat the bottle and shake it. I remember there used to be caps so the milk didn’t spray out while shaking the bottle and that they are usually at the bottom of a diaper bag.

But then I also recalled the eager slurping that replaces hunger cries and the satisfied milk mouth afterwards. I felt like a new mother, unsure in the moment, but an old one when the memories returned to remind me how.

The hours were not meant for me to reminisce but to serve a child. But the circumstances sharpened the memories of my own young motherhood. The question that lingered, “How did I ever do it?”

As President Henry B. Eyring, a leader in my church once said, “Trying to remember allowed God to show me what He had done.”

My recollection of that day was the kindness He had done for me many, many days before. And with that knowledge once again in my core, I can appreciate who my children and I have become all the more.

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2 Comments

  1. Carrie Jensen
    May 15, 2008

    Great story. As one who hasn’t reached the mother phase, it makes me a little nervous, but reassured that there will be someone out there, looking out to help me when my term comes.

  2. Rachel Corbett
    May 19, 2008

    It’s convinient how we forgot those cries but can still remember that yummy baby smell.

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