When babies are small, there is so much physical work to be done. Feeding, changing, dressing, wiping, washing. It’s exhausting, for sure. But the flip side is that the job naturally lends itself to a sweet reward that comes in the form of quiet physical moments.
The changing brings eye contact and babbling, the feeding brings hours of holding, the washing brings skin to skin — and in these regular moments, there’s just so much touching, touching, touching.
Beyond those regular moments, babies also need soothing and snuggling. They need hugs and holds. They need rocking and rock-a-byes.
And whether you realize it or not, as a parent, you’re constantly in contact with your precious baby. It’s just the natural way. The constant physical demands keep a mother moving, moving, moving, but they also keep her sitting still and loving. Her baby needs her to move while touching, and her baby needs her to sit still — in contact.
And even though the days are full of tears and howls and frustrations, the quiet moments still come often:
- The moments of watching eyelashes flutter until they finally hold still, soft breathing and relaxed limbs replacing any previous wiggles.
- The moments of singing, singing, singing — so many songs that come both from memory and from within a reservoir of knowledge and love.
- The moments of feeding while tiny fingers intertwine with big fingers.
These moments are easy; they’re a sweet reward for and respite from the intense physical, emotional, and spiritual work that is raising a baby. They’re a gift of lingering when the rest of the day is packed with responsibilities.
And these moments are good for your soul.
The First Evolution of Quiet Moments
These moments continue steady and strong through the toddler years, although they sometimes take different forms. Physical demands are still high as the toddler needs more and more protecting through this increasingly mobile stage. Diapers still need to be changed, toddlers still need to be dressed, and they still need those snuggles.
The snuggles are a bit different now, though.
Where once you carried your baby everywhere, those little toddler legs are now running around collecting bruises and bumps — which brings more and more need for your magic kisses and love. Nap times require a song, and perhaps a story — snuggling not optional. Sad moments happen frequently, and those little bodies need to be scooped into strong arms that will rock with a song and sweet murmurs.
These moments are not as quiet as they were when the baby was small, but they’re almost as frequent. And they’re good for your soul.
When the Quiet Moments Begin to Vanish
But when the child grows, these moments come fewer and farther between. Big kids don’t outgrow their need for physical touch, reassurance and love — not really, anyway. But the opportunities for those snuggly quiet moments begin to disappear.
Big kids no longer need you to dress them, they don’t need to be held while they eat, and when they fall at school or at an activity, you aren’t around to wrap them in your arms.
This isn’t bad — I don’t think. It’s just the natural way.
You have to find new ways to connect with your big kid. The hours of quiet snuggling are replaced with quality time. You can go to a movie and actually laugh together at the jokes. You can share hobbies and watch new ones emerge. You can go to sporting events and piano recitals, beaming at your child’s bravery.
And hugs can still be frequent. Snuggles can still happen. But they aren’t quiet anymore. When the baby was small, there were so many quiet, peaceful moments of bonding. Bonding with a big kid is rarely quiet — at least in my world. The snuggles are punctuated by silly stories, funny faces, and tales that go on and on and on.
This is good. But the quiet is missed. The moments of staring at angelic cheeks while silently thanking God over and over for your precious gift of a child are rare. It’s not that you don’t feel those big feelings anymore. It’s just that you aren’t called upon to stare at your child as often.
The songs that soothe are rarely needed. Buttons are buttoned without your help, and the hug that always accompanied the daily ritual has vanished.
You knew to cherish those quiet times of babyhood and toddlerhood — and you did… when you could.
You also know to cherish the big kid moments — and you do… when you can. But you have to manufacture your own quiet moments. You pull out a book and read it together, you brush each other’s hair, you cook together, you take walks, you color side by side, you talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.
But almost as soon as you trick your child into sharing silent moments, your child is off and running to the next activity.
It’s okay. You miss the tiny fingers that reached desperately for you. You miss the moments when you were forced to sit and hold, sit and hold, sit and hold.
But if you’re conscious of the shift; if you realize those natural moments have gradually disappeared — so gradually, you might have missed them — you can make your own new ones.
Your hugs won’t be needed to repair scraped knees. But the quiet bonding is still needed; the reassurance that you’re there to hold (figuratively or physically) for as long as necessary.
So you manufacture those quiet moments and watch for the rare natural bits of stillness. It won’t be long before you’re at the next stage — when you’ll bend your mind once again in ways you don’t yet know to find and create those quiet moments.