Parents know that a new baby changes everything

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2013

Talk to any mother, especially a new mother, and you find out how a baby changes everything. Fathers, too, can tell how a newborn gives you a different perspective on life. But most of the middle-of- the-night feedings, changing diapers, rocking the baby to sleep, and endless other tasks, however, are usually the responsibility of a mother.

Recently, a speech I heard brought back memories of when we brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital. When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, was given the distinguished Wilberforce Award, he remarked that neither this honor, nor “the high privilege of participating in the conclave that elected the Archbishop of Buenos Aires as the new Bishop of Rome,” was the most joyful event in recent days.

Rather, his happiest moment came on Easter Monday when he baptized his newest grandnephew.  “To hold that beautiful month old, seven pound, red-haired boy, even to have him throw-up on me, and to christen him, was a joy. But you know what inspired me even more?

“To observe the profound change in that baby’s mom and dad…Their whole identity was transformed with the arrival of Charlie, their firstborn!

“Oh, now don’t get me wrong: they were two wonderful people, a happily married couple B.C., before Charlie. But, they each had their own professions – Kelly, a teacher; Mike a police officer – that devoured their time and energy; they had just bought a little house to which they gave a lot of attention; their time, their schedule, their interests, their future plans, were rather diverse and self-referential…no more!

“What I saw instead was that Kelly and Mike’s attention and interest, their very lives, were now totally absorbed, not in themselves, not even in each other, but in their baby! Charlie dominated their sleep schedule, their plans, their budget, their conversation, their calendar, their future, their dreams. No longer were they living for themselves but for their baby!”

Cardinal Dolan stated, “That’s precisely how it should be! That’s exactly how God intended it to be! That’s what we call a culture of life…The human project is all about babies…Our lives are at their best when centered not upon ourselves but upon babies!

“C.S. Lewis remarked that the central event of all time, so pivotal that history itself is dated as before or after, was the birth of a baby…He knew that the most effective way to change lives was to send a baby.  So, the ‘Word became flesh,’” when God sent His Son, born of woman who gave birth to her firstborn (John 1:14).

“Culture is simply humanity’s best effort to protect the baby, the mother, the father; culture’s purpose is to embrace, nurture, protect the baby, the mom, the dad, and to see that this precious infant has the embrace of a community to grow…until…that baby is an adult, can tenderly and faithfully love a spouse, then have his/her own baby, and the sacred cycle begins again.”

Cardinal Dolan’s speech could be summed up in this statement, “A baby is God’s way of saying the world should go on.”



Jan White is an award-winning religion columnist.  Her email address is