I've been pondering the past few days how frustrating life can sometimes be for a baby. I'm not saying this in a joking way either--I'm sure at times life can be pretty hard for them! You may be thinking "How on earth could a baby have a hard life? Someone feeds them, changes them, plays with them, etc. They have everything done for them! How could that be hard?"
I had this realization last week when Andrew was trying to learn how to roll from his back to his stomach. He would try for a couple of minutes on his own--arching his back, throwing his hips over, the only thing he was forgetting was lifting his head up. After a few minutes of trying it on his own he started to freak out and get frustrated. At first I didn't understand why he was freaking out. Then one day I helped him onto his stomach and he was so happy! He got this big smile on his face, and stayed on his stomach for about 20 minutes just playing happily (tummy time was something he only did for about 2-3 minutes happily before wanting to be on his back again). He was so excited that he was finally on his stomach after working so hard for it. This process went on for a couple days, and I knew that if he was crying he was either hungry, tired, needed a diaper change, or wanted to roll onto his stomach. Once he learned how to roll on his stomach, he couldn't stop! He was too excited that he learned how to do something with his body.
That has kept him happy for about a week, but the past couple days I've seen him get frustrated with his body again. Now that he rolls, he wants to know how to crawl. I've walked into his room as he's trying to go to sleep and he's pushing up on his feet and hands wanting so badly to move! So now the list is this: check if he's hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, or if he wants to crawl. So we've done some crawling lessons. I push his little knees up under him and he scoots forward with excitement, and we go through this process for about 20 minutes.
A couple days ago he was freaking out for a good 20 minutes and I had no idea what to do. He didn't want to be held, he wasn't in the mood for crawling lessons, wasn't tired, wasn't hungry, and had a dry diaper. I decided to let him cry in his crib for a little bit while I went into the other room and said a prayer. As I said "Heavenly Father, let me be patient with Andrew," I realized that Andrew was probably frustrated too! And for good reason!
Ever since he's been born I've had so many realizations of who this special boy is. He has a special, strong, kind spirit, and I realized he is frustrated having such a strong spirit in a tiny body. Even once he learns how to crawl, eventually walk, and start talking a bit, I know he'll sometimes get frustrated when he doesn't know how to express himself (much like toddlers do). It must be so hard having the spirit of a grown person stuffed into the body of a tiny human. Really, the body needs to catch up to the spirit, which I think is what infancy and the toddler-stage is all about. The spirit is willing but the flesh isn't ready.
I now have a different outlook when Andrew is crying and I don't know what to do. Instead of me praying "Heavenly Father, let me be patient with Andrew," I pray "Heavenly Father, let Andrew be patient with me as I try to figure out what he needs right now." Babies do require a lot of patience from their parents. They need to wait to be fed, have a diaper change, go to bed--they are solely dependent on us, just like we are solely dependent on Heavenly Father. Just like we need to be patient with Heavenly Father as he lets us learn, grow, and yes, sometimes struggle, babies need to be patient with us as we help them learn, nourish them to grow, and yes, sometimes let them struggle. Just like we can someday grow up to be like Heavenly Father, babies will someday grow up to be parents.
So yes, life as a baby is sometimes hard. Life as a parent is sometimes hard. Thank goodness babies have their parents, and parents have their Heavenly Father.