Sunday, May 13, 2007

TALKING TO NEWBORNS


"Hank", originally uploaded by patryfrancis.

It's mother's day, and it seems, I have a grandson. His name is Hank David Richard Francis after various family members, but you can just call him Hank.

I was nineteen when my first son was born, and so inexperienced that I didn't dare remove his sweater when I brought him home for fear that I'd break one of those twig-like arms. Sometimes it seems like a miracle that we both survived.

But one of my most closely guarded secrets is that even after four children, I still feel like that when I handle an infant. I can't resist a baby once they have weight and solidity and can laugh and play, but a fragile newborn? Were my own really THAT small?

I can no longer remember how to wrap a baby in a receiving blanket, and I was a total failure at getting Hank to burp, but I absolutly love talking to newly born humans. And for at least an hour, that's what I did. I talked to Hank.

emma's communion

I told him about all the things I hoped he and I would do together someday. I resurrected the old stories I'd made up for the other beloved children in my life. I pointed out the open fields and the the light came through the trees behind us, and the sound of the children whose play he would soon share, mingling with the river that runs behind his Uncle Josh's house.

And I wished for him a world that would always be as good and abundant and full of love as the one in which he found himself yesterday, blinking and beset with new hungers, but already listening. Already eager to hear and learn and know.

64 comments:

Amishlaw said...

What a great Mother's Day present, to see your first grandson. Congratulations!

Patry Francis said...

Thanks, Amishlaw. It was quite an occasion.

steve said...

Congratulation, Patry. I'm afraid I suffered from the fear of breaking those fragile newborns, with their necks not yet strong enough to support their heads. But like you, I loved to talk to them, and to read to them. I think you've got the right approach. Happy Mother's Day.

Michael said...

Congratulations, Patry! I hope your children and grandchildren add layer after layer of love, joy and contentment to your life. (Also, thanks so much for your good wishes. I really appreciate it...)

All the best,
Michael

rdl said...

Cute!! I feel the same way about newborns- afraid they might break. 6mo- 18mo - my favorite year, then the terrible twos set in.

Sustenance Scout said...

OH MY, Patry! You're a grandmother! How exciting is that?! CONGRATULATIONS!! And please give baby Hank a hug from Denver. He'll be all rolly polly and fun before you know it, but for now isn't it something to watch the fascination a simple ray of light can conjure? My youngest loved to sit outside and just watch the trees move even in the slightest breeze. It was one thing that always calmed her. Enjoy!

Musing said...

Congratulations, Patry! :-)

Sara said...

Mazeltov and best wishes to everyone concerned. :)

What a year it's been for your family, eh?

Jessie said...

hank is a lucky little man to have a grandma who talks to him like you do. i love the photo and i love your post title. babies are such strange and wonderful creatures--hank has an especially wise and wonderful look about him! :)

KG said...

Congratulations, Patry! It sounds like you had a wonderful mother's (and grandmother's!) day.

And welcome Hank! :)

tarakuanyin said...

Congratulations! Lucky grandkid, to have you as a granny. I spent the first six months of my daughter's life afraid I'd drop her. She was born early and tiny, so she looked especially fragile for a long time. Soon enough you'll be wrestling him and playing catch and chase.

marja-leena said...

Congratulations! Grandparenthood is quite wonderful, isn't it? You are lucky to have each other.

Patry Francis said...

steve: Thank you. It's amazing how a newborn senses that you're talking very intensely just to them, and how they gobble that up.

Michael: What a lovely wish for Hank and for us--and much appreciated.

r: Hopefully, you will see him soon.

Jeannette: Thank you!

Karen: I love your image of the baby studying the trees moving in the breeze and seeing it with new eyes. Oh, to keep that sense of wonder!

sara: 2007 has been the MOST exciting year ever for me. Who says middle age is bland and dull?

jessie: Thank you for noticing Hank's obvious wisdom and wonderfulness. I quite agree!

kg: Thanks for stopping by to share my joy.

tara: Oh yes, I lived in fear of dropping them, too--that is, when I wasn't running in on an hourly basis to make sure they were still breathing. Thank you for your good wishes.

marja-leena: Thank you! I remember you making a similar announcement not that long ago...

floots said...

congrats
(my kids are in their thirties
but i'm still afraid of 'em) :)

zhoen said...

I love the newly born. Now, if only they wouldn't turn into toddlers and teens...

Congrats.

Left-handed Trees... said...

He is beautiful...I know what you mean about newborns and talking to him sounds just about right (his grandmother has quite a lot of stories to tell, doesn't she?) Hope your mother's day was a special one.
Love,
D.

The Writers' Group said...

Oh, the scent of a baby! The gurgling and sighs, the way their eyes try to focus,the spasms as their arms flail. You lucky, lucky woman, Patry. I miss tucking my nose into their necks and knowing my purpose. I hope Hank lives nearby. Think of all the walks ahead of you. Congratulations!

Amy

Marilyn said...

Awww...he's a cutie! Congratulations! Lovely post.

Sky said...

What a cutie-pie! Don't you love the way they smell when they are freshly bathed and powdered?! So glad to see a pic of your Mama! She is a cutie, too - guess it just runs in the family! :)


How is that rewrite coming along?

robin andrea said...

What a lovely way to spend Mother's Day, holding that newborn grandson and talking about the world. Is there anything better than that for having a glimpse into the future than holding it in your arms?

Fred Garber said...

Congratulations! And belated blessings to all of the mothers out there! I am sure that Hank will not lack for books in his life!

Patry Francis said...

floots: There's a different kind of fragility to every age, isn't there?

zhoen: Oh, but toddlers are so much fun to PLAY with! And now that none of them belong to me, I can walk away from any and all tantrums. I'm so looking forward to that.

delia: It's so comforting to me to hear that I'm not the only mom who still feels uncomfortable with newborns!

amy: Oh yes, I love it when their eyes try to focus--especially when they realize, "Hey, this person is talking to ME; but who ARE they, and what on earth are they trying to communicate?" (I wonder how that translates in pre-verbal language...)

marilyn: Isn't he though? Thank you for your good wishes.

sky: Oh yes, Mama is the cutest great-nana out there--and absolutely thrilled with her title.

robin: Talking is my version of "good planets," and today the planet feels very good indeed.

The Curmudgeon said...

Congratulations.

Melba said...

Oh Happy Mother's Day! Beautiful pictures!
XO,
Melba

Patry Francis said...

curmudgeon: Thank you!

melba: Same to you, of course! Still looking forward to our walk. The weather has been AMAZING...

colleen said...

Aw...you gave me goosebumps. I'm hoping it's like riding a bike and it will all come back to me. I LOVE the second photo...black and white...old and young... what a mix.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Oh Patry, he's adorable! I love the expression on that face, it's priceless. Congratulations to you and your whole family! I can't imagine a better Mother's Day present.

NoVA Dad said...

What a wonderful post; congratulations! I hope you have a great deal of fun and make a whole new set of memories as you try and discover that "old kid magic" in reconnecting with this new little marvel!!

Patry Francis said...

colleen: When I come to Floyd, we'll sit out on the porch and talk grandma talk together; I'm confident it will all come back.

sharon: I would describe that expression as "secret joy." Thanks for stopping by to visit the baby. This virtual community is really something!

Matt: The old kid magic has never died in me! It seems to grow stronger every year.

Becca said...

I completely understand your feelings about the fragility of babies - I'm always so insecure around them, even though I long to hold them and smell their sweetness.

This grandson of yours is a beauty, though! Enjoy every minute of him :)

tamarika said...

Patry,
This is such a beautiful post. I can imagine showing it to early childhood teachers-to-be. For, talking to children and sharing our ideas, thoughts, dreams, and affection is crucial for developing wonderful emotional memory in the brain! Congratulations to you all, and a hearty welcome to Hank.
(PS - thanks for stopping by my blog recently. Much appreciated!)

Anonymous said...

Ooh, he's gorgeous. Congratulations! If I remember correctly, that fragility will start to fade pretty quickly. He'll feel robust enough for even your hands in a few weeks. ;)

In the meantime, aren't those tiny newborn faces impossibly small? I haven't been around one in years, but marvel whenever I pass by a stranger and her new babe...

Lucky you!
Tish Cohen

Fred Garber said...

Babies are great! Congrats! By the way Patry my blog is 2 years old and I am celebrating with an online potluck. Come on over and bring that grandbaby!

KATE EVANS said...

Beautiful entry. Timeless.

Avus said...

I have 6 grandchildren (boasts) and I love them dearly. They are so interesting and interested. But I had no rapport at all with them as babies. From about two onwards was a different matter. I like the interaction and response of more mature children.

Holly Kennedy said...

Oooooh, Patry, he is truly adorable.

What a wonderful Mother's Day gift!
Congrats to you all...

Patry Francis said...

becca: Every single minute! Thank you--

tamarika: I hadn't thought of "emotional memory." But that must be what it is, and just the human hunger for connection, even in one only days old. The need to be spoken to with deep attention and love is clearly coded in our brains.

Tish: I seem to be the kind of mother who forgets EVERYTHING about infants, though I suspect it would all come back very quickly.

fred: Pot luck at your place? I'll be there with the wine.

Kate: Thank you!

Avus: I love them when you can tell them real stories. Around two, that seems to begin...Congrats on having six! Something to boast about indeed!

Holly: Yes, the best ever. Hope yours was wonderful, too!

Therese said...

Wow, beautiful baby, beautiful words about the baby--and I'm certain there were and will be many beautiful words to to the baby.

Warmest wishes for all of you!

Patry Francis said...

Thank you, Therese. If only we had the power to make all the word in his life beautiful ones!

Mardougrrl said...

What a wonderful gift! Congratulations....enjoy your gorgeous new grandson. :) And I know what you mean about that fear...I used to stare at my daughter CONVINCED I was going to break her. Now, I fear she'll break me. ;)

Kerstin said...

Congratulations, Patry - you are the coolest grandmother I know, lucky little Hank!

By the way, I've been so quiet with commenting but I wanted to let you know that I absolutely loved "The Liar's Diary", it caused me lots of shrivelled skin for a few days as I kept reading it in the bath for hours! Looking forward to the next book :)

Patry Francis said...

madougrrl: It's amazing how quickly that transformation happens! Always nice to see you here.

kerstin: I'm happy to hear good feedback on LD anytime! Thank you. The bath is quite a perfect place to read it, since the bath scene is pivotal. I hope you drank a glass of wine and put on some classical music while you were reading!

MB said...

Oh, Patry, wonderfully expressed, so full of love. Happy Grand-Mother's Day!!

Patry Francis said...

Thanks, MB. Hope your mom's day was blissful, too!

mm said...

Patry. It's been months and months since I've visited here. What a lovely post to come back to.

It moved me that you talked to Hank the way you did. At some level I feel sure that he will have heard and understood.

Oh, and congratulations on the book! I will look out for it.

gerry rosser said...

How wonderful.
I have no children, so it amazed me how quickly I connected with my infant step-granddaughter.

paris parfait said...

Congrats for your beautiful grandson! What a wonderful gift. Sorry I haven't visited in a while, as have been preoccupied with guests and deadlines. Hope all is well. xo

Patry Francis said...

mm: Thank you! It's been a fantastic year around here.

gerry: I can feel the connection with your granddaughter in your photos. It's beautiful to see!

tara: Nice to see you any time; and don't worry, I haven't been "getting around" much lately either.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Congratulations, Patry! What a little sweetie pie. My daughter Jenn gave birth to Julian and Gordon when she was 19 and 20, and they're now 3 and 4 years old, the light of our lives. I never anticipated grandfathering to be the supreme adventure of joy that it is - it's the best time of our lives. Luckily, we're both still young enough to be active grandparents and to enjoy every second of this blessing! I can see you'll be savoring every moment, as I do, and wish you and your newest family member great health and happiness!

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

What a wonderful experience. I love peeking in to that moment and hearing you talk to this little person who is new to the world. Much peace, JP

Dale said...

Congratulations! What a sweetie.

chiefbiscuit said...

OH!!! How adorable he is that hank of yours. Congratulations, I know you're going to really enjoy grandmotherhood.

Patry Francis said...

Aaron: I've seen the photos of you and your grandsons. They make me smile in happy anticipation!

Deborah: Isn't it great that we can peek on one another's lives this way? A small miracle really.

Dale: Thank you!

chiefbiscuit: Every moment of it...

Anonymous said...

congratulations patry! i'm rather frightened of babies (and children in general, actually) myself. ;)
~ruby

kathryneo said...

Patry, a beautiful photo of your newborn grandson. Reminds me of how small and delicate my now 19-year-old son seemed at 6 pounds. At first, I, too, was frightened to pick him up: he was so small we had to wrap a towel around the infant carrier in the car. But he soon grew big. The rest is history.

gary said...

As one new grandparent to another, that's a good looking kid.

Now I have a request...Quit posting on the 13th. They are not good days for you, it seems when you post on the 13th you go away...Stop it, please. We miss you.

Anonymous said...

Hank is gorgeous! What a wonderful Mother's Day gift to you and your family. Think of all the plot outlines and character sketches you can run by him in the coming months and years! By the way, loved the interview on Literary Mama.

Hannah Roveto

Melissa Marsh said...

Congratulations, Patry! What a wonderful gift. :-) And he is absolutely adorable.

Tinker said...

Congratulations, Patry!!! and welcome to the world, Hank!!!

What a wonderful Mother's Day present indeed.

I was almost 19 when I had my oldest, too - and what did she do? Go and make me a grandma 21 years later, lol - that 40th birthday seemed almost like a double whammy, but despite the early grandmotherhood, it was truly one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to me. Wishing you and little Hank many, many joyous moments together! xoxo

Patry Francis said...

ruby: Thank you! (And I'm sure you're wonderful with children.)

kathryn: Inside the little acorn is a powerful oak. We parents witness that first hand, don't we?

gary: I think you're right about the 13th. I've always been ashamed of my superstitious nature, but it really seems like there might be something to it...no more thirteenths.

hannah: Thank you! I'm so glad you checked out the interview on Literary Mama. Karen DeGroot Carter did a great job with it.

melissa: Thanks--and I love your new icon.

tinker: Oh yes, grandmotherhood is sweet, especially when it happens at a young age. Hank is my first grandson, but I have two granddaughters (including beautiful Emma, in the First Communion dress.) My granddaughters are the same age as some of my friends children!

Patry Francis said...

Thank you all for your good wishes

sue said...

I'm very late in congratulating you, but just found your blog (I'm just now reading your book.) I, too, had my first at 19 and went on to have four, and have a grandson - now in 4th grade. It is a bit daunting to see those new "little ones" and to realize ours were that small - even to realize my first was smaller yet, at a bit over 3 lb she was 2 months premature. Congratulations, "Grandma"... you've got a lot of fun ahead!

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