by JEN STEINER
I hear the familiar squeaks and grunts over the baby monitor, signs that my almost-four-month-old is awake and ready for the day. As I reach into her crib, Mara looks up at me with her blue eyes, full of such trust and anticipation of a new day.
I say good morning and a big grin breaks over her chubby cheeks. I unzip her from her sleep sack and her arms immediately shoot up. Stretching, she is precious to behold. Even though a full night’s sleep is a long lost memory for me, these morning moments are priceless. What will the day bring? What new things will my daughter discover today?
Sometimes these sweet moments are clouded in my mind by the reality of the ugliness on the morning news: war, violence and destruction. There are so many things of which we can be fearful. What a contrast to the hope and innocence I see in my daughter’s eyes when I reach into the crib each morning.
It is easy to feel hopeless. Cancer and other diseases strike our loved ones. Broken families and strained relationships cause hurt and stress. Our environment deteriorates. Hate and ignorance lurk everywhere. Intolerance breeds hate, spite and revenge.
Along with many other parents, I oftentimes wonder what kind of a world we have brought our child into. A society that seems ever more divided, trying to make anyone who is different from us into an enemy. There are many values and types of people. Filter the information and entertainment coming into your life. What will the world be like when she grows up?
And then I look into my daughter’s eyes. I see the way she lights up when she hears her daddy’s voice, and I hope she always feels secure and safe. I see the innocent way she studies new people, and then breaks into a drooly grin. I hope she never learns prejudice and hate. I hear her coo and babble as she tries out her voice. I hope she uses that voice to speak for justice.
I see her kick and dance along to music and I hope she always has the confidence to be her own person.
I watch in wonder as she strains her head from side to side, trying to take in everything. I hope she always looks for the best in the world and in the people around her. I see her kick and dance along to music and I hope she always has the confidence to be her own person. I watch her shriek with delight and I hope she never feels the limits society will try to place on her.
In my daughter, I see a new beginning and a chance for things to be better. I wonder who she will become and what her personality will be like. It’s amazing to watch her experience things for the first time.
Not only is there hope in her eyes, but also that hope is reflected back at me. It may sound cliché, but she really does make me want to be a better person. I want to teach her to love herself and then pass that love onto others. But I recognize in order to teach her, I need to model that love myself. As those little eyes watch my actions, I hope to be a good example. I rest assured grace will prevail. Her whole life is laid out before her, full of endless possibilities and hope.
I want her to know she is a loved child of God and she can never lose that love. When she wakes up each morning and stretches her arms above her head, there is joy and expectation for the day. I have faith in a future filled with God’s hope for my daughter and for all our daughters and sons.
JEN STEINER is a freelance writer from Indiana.