Welcoming the Cries of a Child

(Photo: Imgur)
(Photo: Imgur)

Have you seen this picture? It’s been shared over and over again on my Facebook mama groups after going viral on Imgur a week ago. I’m sure there are critics out there, but all of the comments I’ve seen are full of praise for this professor who comforted a student’s crying baby as he continued to lecture. He’s been called a “baby whisperer” and that he deserves a medal for this kind act.

Honestly I felt a little “eh” when I first saw this picture, and apparently I’m not alone. In fact the “hero” of the story, Dr. Sydney Engelberg, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a grandfather, is “pretty blasé” about the sudden internet fame thing, according to his wife. He doesn’t seem to think comforting a crying child is a big deal, and that is precisely what is striking a nerve with so many people.

His caring gesture is an act of inclusive welcome that is desperately needed in our communities. 

During my seminary education I remember a classmate bringing her young baby to class. I wasn’t particularly clued into her experience though I can recall a few instances when the professor would acknowledge the baby’s coos and then continue on with the lecture. Mostly the baby sat quietly in the back, practically invisible to the rest of us.

A few weeks ago my husband and I took our daughter on her first plane ride. I was filled with anxiety over the logistics and how our little one would do. As we boarded the plane I could feel the gaze of fellow passengers on us as they eyed our daughter, willing her not to make their trip miserable. I spent both legs of our journey a nervous wreck, my back uncomfortably hunched over to nurse her whenever I sensed a cry coming on.

Have you ever thought about the lyrics to “Away in a Manger”?

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes

I’m here to tell you: Jesus cried, and not just in the Garden of Gethsemane. Like the little boy in the picture–and like all of us–Jesus was a baby who needed comforting love. I wonder if the wise men ever took turns bouncing the baby Jesus on their hips so Mary and Joseph could have a breather.

The picture of the professor and baby reminds us of what it means to be in community with one another. A crying baby is not an inconvenience; it’s an opportunity.

Turning Guilt into Compassion: My Story of No Maternity Leave

TiredMama

The day after my two-week postpartum check-up I went back to work. This was an especially difficult thing to accept because I’m an advocate for health. For maternal health, to be precise. And yet there I was in a sleep-deprived daze, still bleeding from the birth while I sat on a conference call focused on achieving better health outcomes for moms.

Colleagues would email me weeks or even months later to ask when my maternity leave was up, and I’d confess hesitantly, I never went on it.

In part because my work is grant-funded I’m a consultant, not an employee. There are a lot of benefits, er—upsides to contract work, like being based at home and having some flexibility around working hours. When it came to my own personal maternal health, there were no policies in place to protect or support me.

Click here to read the rest of my post on the Good Mother Project.