It is amazing for me to look back and see how much he has grown and changed since he was born. He came into this world as an innocent and precious little child, unable to do anything but cry and look around. He didn't know anything about the world. A newborn baby is like cement-it is up to you to shape them. Everything you say to them will affect them. It is such a responsibility to have a tiny little child, a precious neshama, to take care of.
A baby is totally dependant on his parents to take care of him. And within one year, he learns so much. He learned to smile, babble, play with toys, crawl, eat real food, stand and so much more. There is so much that we can learn from little kids and especially from babies.
Shalom Baruch (or SB) is now learning how to walk. It is unbelievable to watch his determination while he is trying it out. He takes his walking toy and holds on to it while he takes a few steps and then...plop! He falls onto the floor. But does he start to cry and give up right there? Nope! He picks himself up, laughs and tries again. Step, step, step, step, plop! And again. He just never gives up. Incredible! Like it says, "Sheva yipol tzaddkik v'kom" - a tzaddik falls seven times and still gets up. No matter how many times he falls, he does not despair, he keeps strong and tries again. How many falls does it take until we say, "that's it, I'm done trying?" and give up? Let us look at this little tzaddik and follow in his teeny footsteps! Remember, the only way he'd learn to walk is by trying again. If he were to give up, even after the tenth time, he would never learn. The fact that he keeps on going no matter how many times he falls is what makes him succeed and soon he will be walking like a pro! But it all starts from getting up after that plop!
Looking back at this past year, there is so much growth and change that SB experienced. In the beginning it was week-by-week and then it was month-by-month. First he learned how to smile, then roll from his stomach to his back, then from his back to his stomach, then he started to grab toys, he learned how to giggle, he started to crawl, he got his first tooth, he would stand while holding on to the couch, chair, a toy (or my skirt!), then he started to leave go and stand on his own. He's already starting to talk and say little things, like "hi" or "baby." (I'm still trying to teach him how to say "mommy" but that's another story!) What is interesting is that by little kids, you see so much change happening from one year to the next. I can't even compare where he was when he was born a year ago to what he is up to now.
And now you have to ask yoursef, how much do I change in a week? a month? a year? When you look back at where you were last year at this time and see where you are today, are you happy with what you see? What can you do to make sure that by the time you get to next year, you will be able to look back at this past year and say, "Wow, I feel so good about where I am now!"
I remember holding SB when he was still a newborn and looking into his pure little eyes while trying (unsuccessfully) to sing elokei neshama. The song I was singing had a very touching tune and I just could not get through the song without crying. It was so emotional to try to sing this song to such a pure little baby. I would think to myself, You are so young. So innocent. You don't know anything about the big world out there. And I wish you could stay this way. I was a baby like you too. We all started off this way. But what happened? What can I do to keep your innocence and purity so you always stay on the right path, always love Hashem and always want to do the right thing? And I was never able to get to the end of the song. I would sing and think along with the meaning of the words...tehorah hee-the neshama you placed inside of me is pure...v'ata meshamra b'kirbee-and you are watching it inside of me...v'ata asid litlah mimenee-and in the future you will take it away from me...u'lihachazira bee l'asid lavo-and at the end of time you will return it to me. Oh, Hashem, please let this child's neshama remain whole and pure and untainted. Let him live a full life...a happy life, a beautiful and fulfilling life. And I would cry and cry (if I even got to this part of the song). And Shalom Baruch would just look at me with his little eyes, blink, blink, blink and look around, unaware of my emotions.
We all started out this way!! Each and every one of us came into this world pure and without any aveiros. And while your neshama is still in your body remember that Hashem is watching over and protecting you at every moment of the day. Before you do something, before you read something, think for a second, "is this good for my neshama?" Will it bring me closer or farther away from Hashem?
Now that we are baruch Hashem approaching Shalom Baruch's very first birthday, there is so much more I want to say but just don't know how to say it. It is such a privelege and a big responsibility to be able to raise such an adorable little boy-who still is innocent and pure. I hope he is able to keep his purity for a long time and we are able to teach to do the right thing always.
We'll take brachos (and presents lol) anytime!