For some reason this morning, Bubba and I found ourselves curled up in the kitchen on a stepstool together. In a rare moment of mommy nostalgia, he was letting me hold him like a baby. I sush-ed him and rocked him and cooed, “Ni-night Baby Bubba. Close your eyes.” He would pretend to be asleep, I would surprise him awake, and he would laugh. A lot.
As always goes with toddler games, I was done way before he was. I wondered if he might keep playing with a baby of his own, so I fished one out of the bottom of Chica’s closet. It was naked, of course. Chica apparently doesn’t believe in doll clothes. I swaddled it tightly, surprised a bit that I hadn’t lost my touch. Maybe it’s like riding a bike.
Bubba sush-ed the baby and rocked it and unwrapped it. He wasn’t satisfied with a naked baby, so we had to find it a diaper. I showed him how to hold a hand under its head so that he wouldn’t drop it…again. By the time Jay came upstairs to fix us lunch, the baby had become Baby Jesus, and Bubba was kissing him goodnight, laying him in Bubba’s own bed. (The baby started out as a girl. There was a bit of pronoun mix-up at first. Daddy was very confused. I just rolled with it.)
So Bubba has spent the rest of his afternoon taking care of Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus drank at least 27 bottles of “baby juice” and ate pretzels, but he didn’t really care much for the dried mango he was offered. He listened to Bubba sing songs, looked out the window, sat with us while we did crafts, watched a Mickey Mouse show, and took a few more naps. He has had at least two dirty diapers (which we conveniently have to change each time), and he as cried often. Just now Bubba tried pushing Baby Jesus in the stroller to see if this would help. I think it did, until he fell out and got rolled over. He’s on bottle 28 now. Juice makes everything better.
One of the songs we sang Baby Jesus this afternoon was Away in a Manger. Daddy doesn’t do anything related to music halfway, so we of course began the second verse:
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
I couldn’t help myself. It was as if, for the first time, I finally heard what the words really said. I interrupted so delicately…
“What a load of crock! ‘No crying he makes?’ He was a real baby. Of course he cried! He woke up, he was hungry, and he cried. What was that person thinking?”
As Baby Jesus has spent this icy day with us, I’ve thought more and more about the humanity of this perfect miracle. Like the author of this carol, we like to think about a glowing, swaddled bundle lying peacefully in a bed of straw. But do you think it was just like that? I think that he had his fair share of projectile vomiting, that Joseph walked laps around the stable while sush-ing him, Mary learned the hard way about a baby boy’s natural reaction to cool air, and she was likely miserable while figuring out how to nurse him. And of course he cried.
Isn’t it amazing? I’m still contemplating today what kind of love God has for us that he chose this way. There were so many other ways he could have chosen to send our Savior, but he chose a baby. A baby that was miraculously and mysteriously 100% human and 100% divine, at the same time. So unexpected. So humbling.
Come, Baby Jesus. Come with your crying and your dirty diapers and your middle of the night feedings. Come to our mangers and to our hearts. Come with your life-changing miracles and your forgiveness and your love for the unlovely. Come quickly.