Our son William was baptized on Sunday.
I was so excited. I had been planning it for weeks. My husband and I were hosting a brunch for our families at our house afterward. He had an adorable outfit picked out. A close family friend was going to baptize him. It was going to be perfect – my son’s first big event in his short three-month life.
The day arrived and by the end of it I learned a valuable lesson: there are no perfect moments in life. At least, not the kind of “perfect” that you often hope they will be. Having a child has redefined what having a meaningful experience is for me – and it doesn’t always involve everything going as planned.
My main concern was William crying during the baptism. We are Methodists, and in our church the sacrament of baptism is fairly tame – just some water sprinkled on the baby’s head. There is no immersion or anything like that. And the whole thing lasts about five minutes. No problem, right? Well, many, many babies tend to be fussy during this process, and while it is always cute, for some reason I was terrified that my child would fuss and wail. So we did everything we could think of to stack the deck in our favor: we tried to make sure he was fed, and happy, and that he had slept enough that morning. We wanted to give him no reason to fuss.
But guess what? He did anyway.
I think he was a bit overstimulated. Between getting ready to go that morning and running around finishing preparations for the brunch, then being greeted by our relatives at the church, all anxious to see him, William had a lot of activity around him all day. By the time the service started, he was fussing. And as much as I tried to calm him, before we knew it, the time had come and we were those parents standing up there with a crying – make that wailing – baby. But our son was, in the end, baptized. Mission accomplished. And yes, he cried the whole time.
When it was finally over and he was handed back to us, the congregation applauded, chuckling gently at our noisy baby. I hurried him out of the church (by this time I was sweating bullets) and spent about 15 minutes calming him down, after which he slept in my arms for the rest of the service. My mom and my sister kept offering to take him from me, but I didn’t dare hand him over, as I was too afraid of rocking the boat.
Though we had a lovely time at the brunch afterward, I’ll admit I was slightly bummed for the rest of the day and into the next that William had been so fussy during this special moment. I had so wanted him to be calm and happy and for that to be the memory I always cherished.
But guess what? That’s not what happened. And I can’t control my baby. But he was baptized among people who love him, into a church that will nurture him, and that is what I need to remember. And one day I’ll sit back and laugh and tell him the story of the time he screamed all the way through his baptism. And I’ll tell him that he taught me that parenthood is not about creating perfect moments; it is about being there for your child and cherishing every day – the perfect ones and the not-so-perfect ones, because they all contribute to this wonderful life that every parent struggles to build for their babies. And I will be grateful.