A small child just entered the world last week. This is not big news. Babies are born every day. In fact, a little over 10,000 cutesy little bundles of squishy joy emerge into the bright lights of this world each day in the US. That translates into 3.7 million new Mamas every year who are braced to spend enough each month on diapers and formula to make a car payment.
We’re talking used Corolla payments here, not new Lexus, just to keep things in perspective. Still, it’s enough to make your wallet feel the strain.
Little Daniel was evidently eager to make his appearance. He came into this world two months early, weighing in at 3 and a half pounds. I’ve caught Bass out of a pond bigger than him. He weighs less than a small sack of sugar. Curled up, you could put him inside a Pop Tart box with room to spare.
But this kid has determination. He is determined to squall and eat and poop with the best of them. His pink color is a good sign, I hear. All the toes and fingers are there. He has recently moved out of the critical NICU and into a lower-level unit. Looks like he’s determined to go home. Here’s hoping it’s soon.
I’m taking his birth as a good sign, along with the other 9,999 new arrivals who share the same birth date as his. How so? Well, if you do the math, everyone of them started their little journey to join us during one of the worst periods of recent history. People were just learning a new thing called social distancing. And no way all these babies came to greet us if social distancing was being upheld in the strictest sense of the word.
This means that even with all that went wrong in the world this last year people still had hope. Jobs were being lost. Mom and Pop companies were going under. Fear was beginning to take a grip that no one saw coming. The virus was stealing our lives right out from under us. We cried for those we lost. And, yet, on any given day 10,000 couples said, “Hey, let’s have a baby.”
You only do that if you are listening to your heart and not the evening news. If you take all your cues from the headlines, you just might give up on life. You certainly wouldn’t think about bringing a baby into this mess of ours. But they did it anyway because they have hope. They know that the past 12 months does not define our living. They honestly believe that love conquers all and they obviously think that joy comes in little packages.
You see, hope is not some archaic blind wish. Hope doesn’t dash all common sense to the ground. Hope takes stock of what has always been true. Hope weighs all the good in life that has ever come our way and defies those who say that the world is falling apart around us.
I can guarantee you that Daniel’s parents have not said to themselves over the last seven months, “Gheez! What were we thinking? What if the sky falls tomorrow? What are we gonna do then? Have we lost our minds bringing a little boy into this world?”
I’ve seen pictures. Nothing but smiles from ear to ear. Nothing but the purest kind of joy that only a parent can know. Sure, they have worried that their baby boy has spent the first days of his life in the NICU. They are certainly aware that there is a pandemic going on right outside their hospital window. They wonder about how they are going to pay for little league uniforms, and speeding tickets and college. But that doesn’t diminish the life they dream of for Daniel.
I have some advice for you, young Daniel. These next few weeks are going to be tough. Lots of nurses and doctors probing around. Loud machines that disturb your rest. Nothing like the peace and quiet of your former living quarters. But know this, you have a Mom and Dad who already love you to the moon and back. They haven’t had much chance to hold you yet, but they will. In fact, when you get older, they’ll hug you in front of your friends and embarrass the stew out of you. Forgive them often. Whatever they do, they do it because they love you.
As you grow up, it will be important that you be a friend to everyone you meet. It won’t make sense now, but trust me, if you do this, it will make your life so much better. Be the boy who is nice to everyone. Learn your “please” and “thank you” and never forget to use your “Sir” and “M’am”. And remember, just because someone else on the playground is a rude jerk, there’s no reason for you to forget your manners. Being nice is maybe the hardest thing you will ever do, but it is perhaps one of the more meaningful things that will serve you well your whole life.
Love your parents completely. I know when you hit 13 it will seem like they are old and out of touch with the real world. Your friends will make all kinds of jokes about how their parents are fuddy-duddies. Let me just be honest. Your friends are dumb and have no idea what the real world is about. Your parents are some of the smartest and most with-it people who will ever be a part of your life. Besides, no one else would love you the way they do, even after having wiped your behind fourteen times a day.
Last, live up to your name. Daniel. It means “Just”, as in fair, honest, unafraid of what is right. One day you will learn the story of Daniel from the Bible, a man who understood that God is the Judge of all we do in this life. Knowing that, this other Daniel stood up to kings and he stared down lions. He was a man who always did the right thing regardless of the popular crowd or of what his actions might cost him. He is maybe the coolest Daniel who has ever lived until you came along. Be like him.
I’m glad that babies are being born every day. Before I did a little homework, I had no idea how many. I had no idea how many love-struck couples out there still hold on to hope. How many still think that, in this world, it’s a good idea to fulfill the Biblical mandate to multiply and fill the earth. During the Baby Boomer years there were 4.6 million babies on average born per year. Young Daniel, you’re part of a group that is running a close second.
Which means that hope is not dead. Our days are full of things to smile about. The worst moments do not define us. Life goes on.
Thank you Daniel Wade Durham for reminding me. One of these days you’ll figure out that I’m your Great Uncle. One of the old fuddy-duddies. I hope I get to know you.