As I’ve watched my son and and his wife raise their daughter from fragile, needy newborn to robust and smiling four monther, I’m struck by how many people it takes to keep one small life going along.
The parents, of course, who’ve learned to eat meals in shifts and trade off who sleeps when. And also that collapsing in the living room for a few minutes at the end of a day, before beginning the bedtime routine all over again again, is activity enough, no entertainment needed.
Add in grandparents, aunts, and uncles to occasionally baby-tend. Then all those professionals– newborn nurses, pediatrician, lactation consultants, pediatric chiropractor, day care workers. That’s a whole lot of people lavishing attention on one little bundle.
That’s a team.
The thing is, what happens to this team as a baby grows? Does it continue to hover, providing love, nurture, and age-appropriate guidance? Or as the child ages, becomes (perhaps) less adorable and (certainly) more independent-minded and mobile, does it kind of lose focus? The way some new pet owners lose interest when that cute fluffy puppy grows into a gangling, garbage-can-overturning dog?
One answer to that question is found over at the Department of Children’s Services, where the frequency of cast-off children can break your heart.
Another is in the isolation too many in our society feel these days, which we know causes all kind of physical and emotional health problems and addictions. Not to mention, this National Suicide Prevention Week, the rise in suicides.
Truth is, long after we need someone to feed and dress us, we continue to need our team, continue to need people to lavish attention on us. In more or less degree, depending on the day. The members may change over time, the demands be less intense, but we never lose the need for a core group of nurturers. Which nurture, I quickly add, we pass along as we serve on other people’s teams, in one continual giving and receiving.
Oh my gosh, I’ve just paraphrased John Donne’s 17th century, “No man is an island.” Or Nick Hornby’s 21st century novel and film, “About a Boy: ” your choice of genre.
But that’s because it’s true. For hundreds of years ago, and still today, not matter what age we are.
We need a team.