If you are a new parent or even if you have older children, you can probably remember your baby’s first smile, almost vividly I bet!!
When a parent first brings their new baby home from the hospital it is such a time of great joy, but parents quickly learn how demanding a newborn baby really is. The first 6-8 weeks of a baby’s life is all about eating, peeing, pooping and maybe a little sleep, although not on any sleep schedule an adult can remember. The little sleep a parent and the newborn gets comes in 2-3 hour increments and after about 6 weeks of sleep deprivation a new parent can understand why sleep deprivation is used on POWs. It sometimes does feel like torture.
But just when you think you “can’t take it ANYMORE”, and wonder why you thought you wanted a baby, (and you are actually telling your baby this), you suddenly realize that your baby is making eye contact and REALLY SMILING! It is such a wonderful and amazing moment! One little smile can erase weeks of no sleep and pure exhaustion. At that moment you begin to understand why you wanted to be a parent, and the pure joy a small smile can bring.
Parenting, like so many things in life, is about give and take. With a newborn it is all take, take, take, and then suddenly that tiny little baby learns to smile and they are giving!! The smiles, which are soon followed by sweet coos and goos, become ever more frequent, and the give and take becomes a bit more equal.
A parent has unconditional love for their child, and that never changes. But to have your child reciprocate that love, with just a first smile, is a moment that will always be remembered. That smile will get a parent through a lot more sleepless nights, and that sweet baby seems to know to smile even more at 2 am! (Foreshadowing for teenage years).