This comment is at the top of my list of silliest comments that people can make, because if there are good babies, that means that there are bad babies too. But, really, is there such a thing as a good or bad baby? Babies are beautiful, pure souls, all of them. Some babies are collicky, some cry a lot, some even scream a lot, which may make them more difficult to take care of, but none of them are bad. They are just babies.
My baby is, thank G‑d, easy to take care of. He’s happy and sleeps most of the time, as long as he’s nursing or in my arms. I would say that if I could nurse him and cuddle with him 24 hours a day, he would win the prize for easy baby. Unfortunately (or I should say, thank G‑d), 24 hours of nursing and holding is not an option, because I have a home and a husband and three other children to take care of. I have clients to see, and I have things that I need to do, like take a shower! That being said, he’s not the easiest baby in the world (I’m not complaining; he’s still easy!). I put him down, and he complains and whimpers. I give him to someone else to hold, and he looks at me with those gorgeous, “How dare you!” eyes, and they start to tear.
It’s a bit of a game to see how much I can do in a short amount of time, but when I actually start to list the things I’m able to do with him, or in a short amount of time without him, I’m pretty impressed. I put him down and quickly boil up a pot of whole wheat spaghetti or cook some eggs. (Such gourmet dinners we have in our family!) He nurses, and I sit with my children on the floor to play a game of Memory. He’s in my arms, and I can talk on the phone with a client or send an email to family, but there is one thing that I’m missing . . . exercise. Even when I was pregnant with him, I jumped around for 45 minutes to an hour a day. I did kickboxing the day before he came into the world. I’m used to sweaty workouts that give me energy and make me feel good for the entire day. But now—and I’m grateful that it is for such a good reason—there is no way I can fit these routines into my schedule.
I look down at my baby now as I write this. My beautiful precious baby. He fell asleep on me. Do I try? Do I dare to take him off my chest and put him in his crib? At this time of the day, how long will he sleep before the absence of my smell wakes him up, and he realizes that he is no longer on me? Five minutes? Ten? Yes, I miss those sweaty one-hour workouts . . .
News alert!!! I just read in a university study that several small workouts throughout the day— only seven minutes at a time—can lower your risk of heart disease, keep you in shape and boost your metabolism. Even a little bit of exercise is definitely better than not exercising at all, the study said, and those small workouts add up to one big workout a day! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!
So, now what do I do? I have five minutes. I do jumping jacks and push-ups. He wakes up, but I have five minutes of a workout under my belt. An hour goes by, and then a seven-minute nap, and a seven-minute workout. I’ve learned that, yes, I will be sweaty and a bit stinky, but I’m exercising, and I feel good and I have bursts of energy throughout the day. I’ve learned that I can take a shower at night after my workouts have added up to one long workout, and that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
What do my little workouts remind me of? A path to religious observance and spirituality. People often think that religious observance has to be all or nothing. For example, someone might think: If I can’t pray the full service, there is no point in my praying at all. If I can’t remember to say a blessing over my food every time I eat, there’s no point even trying to learn and say the blessings.
But, you know, it’s simply not true. One single blessing, one single mitzvah that you do, creates countless sparks of holiness and goodness in the world. One act—lighting Shabbat candles, saying kiddush on Friday night, visiting an ill person, giving charity—they are bursts of spiritual energy. They add up, and have the potential to change you and bring meaning into your life.
And like there is no such thing as a good or bad baby, there is no such thing as a good or bad mitzvah, a good or bad chesed (act of kindness or good deed). They are all wonderful, and they all bring holiness into this world.
He fell asleep . . . I must close my computer. I have about 10 minutes, maybe I can get a quick workout in . . .