Mom’s Voice: A Baby New Year

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A baby wearing a diaper, sash and top hat has become the most widely recognized symbol for a new year.

A baby is full of promise; the year is new full of promise. But this is a simplistic view. Any mother will tell you that comparison is merely the low hanging fruit. A mom sees a baby on a New Year card and thinks, “Happy New Year! Here’s to complete dependency upon others for our basic needs.”

A mom knows that every night she puts a happy, fed and bathed baby to bed in his fuzzy jammies, it’s a roll of the dice. He may wake up. Could be that he’s wet himself. Maybe it’s dental issues. Perhaps it was explosive diarrhea, which requires not only a change of the baby, but also a change of the crib sheet.

Anyone who’s changed a crib sheet in the middle of the night knows that is actually a more realistic metaphor of certain years in our life.

On a good day, babies drool, barf, fart, cry, burp, and pull hair.

They are wasteful. Even though they are spoon-fed, most meals end up on their cheeks or bib. They drop and throw food.

If one of your resolutions this year is to simplify your life, a baby may not be your best symbol. Babies have paraphernalia everywhere and place high importance on material possessions: A high chair, bouncy seat, car seat, pack n’ play, crib, monitor, saucer, changing table, stroller, diaper bag, bath tub, bath toys, teething toys, and toys that make noise, to name a few.

If one of your resolutions is to lose weight this year, nothing could be a worse metaphor than a baby. In a year a babies will triple their weight and outgrow every article of clothing they own.

Babies are high maintenance and have very little patience. If they don’t get fed right away they are cranky. If they’re tired, they’re cranky. If they’re being held the wrong way or by the wrong person, they’re cranky. That Happy New Year sash should be draped upon a mother each year, not a baby. We’ve got this thing turned around.

However, I will concede to one thing babies have more of than anyone: resiliency.

And that is the single most important attribute a human can possess. If you’ve ever watched a baby try to roll over for the first time, reach for a toy, scoot, crawl, or take her first steps, you know what I’m referring to.

Babies fail.

Multiple times a day.

And therein lies the true baby-new year comparison. A baby is undaunted by failure.  Sure they cry, but they never give up. No matter how many times they tumble, come up empty handed or miss the mark, they just keep going, until they get it.

A baby is dependent, messy, wasteful, and high maintenance. But I’ve had four and believe each one is magical. A baby’s smile has more power to change a mood and restore peace than anything in the world.

Carl Sandburg put it best: “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

Happy New Year!

Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood. Visit her at or contact her at [email protected].

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