If you want to go all out, you could even ask for permission to touch the baby (don’t just do it on your own initiative) or hold the little one.
This is the Advanced Level, and is not for just anyone. (Being a family member does not create a baby-touching-or-holding entitlement here; it’s always the parents’ call.) It’s also not for any baby. Not all babies are the picking-up kind. Some babies do not like to be held by strangers or even extended family members, so that also must be respected.
(It is really a travesty that people sometimes assume that all babies and young people are okay with being held by any old clown or red-suited fellow. How would you like to be plunked onto the lap of that strange man, and held there while he asks you what objects you want? Maybe he smells bad, maybe his teeth look weird from close up, maybe he’s just all around yucky and baby just feels it. Give baby some credit; give baby a voice. Honour those wishes, honour that voice! Respect your child; be your child’s advocate when he’s trying to say, “Yeah, maybe not, Mr. Whoever You Are. Maybe not today or anytime ever. I also ain’t posin’ for no photos or videos so that’s why I’ll cry. Get me outta here, mom – lend an ear, dad! Please!”)
The general point is that it is a privilege to be up close to a baby.
Too many pro-lifers focus on the concept of a baby without being all that interested in actual babies.
Consider that fact and consider the irony.
Pro-lifers, you are up in arms about the babies being aborted, but how much attention do you pay to the babies in your midst? When was the last time you offered, kindly, to relieve the tired arms and back of your friend, your sister, your in-laws, your aunt or your wife? Did you offer to hold the little boy or entertain the little guy who was toddling on by? Don’t be fooled by the calm and natural way that mother holds her baby; yes, she seems like she’s got arms to spare as she moves from here to there, lifting diaper bag and adjusting the cloth, but the truth is, it’s because people rarely offer to help. She carries so much of the burden alone, while you sit there staring, typing away at your phone.
And the way that you offer to help, for those who don’t know it, is to deliver your offer while looking the part. Don’t say “Want anything?” while you’re holding a phone, a cup, or anything else. The mother will take a quick look at you, lounging at that odd angle, and she’ll know your offer is half-hearted, pathetic at best, meant to relieve nobody except your barely-there conscience. “Need any help?” doesn’t work if you don’t mean it.
If you mean it, your actions will match the words from your mouth. You’ll look the part; you’ll be truly keen.
Pro-life husbands, being pro-life means noticing the unspoken needs of the mother beside you. As a matter of fact, I would challenge all dads who consider themselves to be ‘pro-life’ to really re-evaluate their own treatment of their own children and wife. In my books, it is highly inappropriate for a father to be out on some sidewalk being all pro-life if this means he’s missing his own son’s soccer tournament and leaving his wife to do more on her own. Being pro-life means being pro-mother, 365 days per year.
Pro-life unmarried men, tell me about the note that you wrote and the balloons you delivered to your relatives expecting their first. It needn’t cost much. There are no shortage of opportunities, snow-altar-makers! Upon learning of your cousin’s pregnancy, you could send flowers or a card. Upon learning of the birth, you could send a new baby sleeper or a gift certificate for some pizza. Upon being invited to a baby shower or the Christening, you could use your creative power, the same one that has made you so amazingly famous. Think about what you could do. Can you make a lasagna? It’s not impossibly hard; the recipes exist. (It’s called the internet, and it’s amazing what you’ll find.) Instead of watching pro-lifers receiving Communion, learn how to cook chicken with potatoes and deliver it hot; easier than easy if you have a crock-pot. Add a salad and you’ll be a legend. Or crank out some cookies, fellows, or bake a chocolate cake. Didn’t you notice, your neighbour next door now has baby number four? The choices are endless; what did you choose? What have you done to welcome little one to our world?
Pro-life unmarried women, you are up in arms about the babies being aborted, but how much attention do you pay to the mothers in your midst? What gift did you bring to your sister-in-law when you learned she was expecting? What kind of baby shower did you throw for the friend whose bridesmaid you were? Pro-life? Hmm. If you have time to go to a rally, you have time to go to the nearby mall to choose something nice. Some cute little outfit, a set of towels, a gift certificate for a pedicure, or even a picture frame with baby’s full name engraved at $2.00 per letter. You could have done it. You could do it now.
Pro-lifers, what have you done, up close and personal, to show that you appreciate new life, to show that you think new babies are spectacular, good cause for rejoicing?
I hope it ain’t so.
You must have done something. Something spontaneous or something quite planned, thoughtful act nobody expected from you – tell me, what did you do?
And you wonder why our culture isn’t welcoming babies? How welcoming are you to babies, Mr. Pro-Life Unmarried Man? How excited did you seem when you heard your sibling was having another baby? Could they tell that you cared? Did you give new dad a ‘high-five’? Did you buy him some beers? Did you congratulate that co-worker on hearing the news? A special minute or two, as you poked your head in his office, and said, truly, sincerely, that you were glad for him and his wife? Then shyly you pull out a teddy-bear pinned with a note: “Congratulations.” (Many hearts will you smote!) The story will circulate about what you just did, and everyone will know – he must be ‘pro-life’!
Yes, it’s true we’re all busy, dear Pro-Life Unmarried Woman, but the point is, if you’ve got time to stand on a sidewalk and wave to the strangers who honk as you stand there, then you have time to put on your thinking-cap and show that you care – about the newborns who have entered the lives of those around you. They’re everywhere; I hope that you’re noticing, I hope that you care.
And it’s not too late. It’s not too late, for those who are active in pro-life ministry, to demonstrate their commitment by writing those cards, and dropping off those homemade cookies or gifts. How about a set of new bibs? The child could be 8 months or 18 months by now, but if you haven’t called, you can do so today.
Now of course, it’s not everybody who can be engaged in such activities. Some people are already running their own families and their focus needs to be right on the home front. But for you, who are unmarried and long to be making a difference in this realm, please take one of these ideas – something you can do sincerely, without making it part of some fake Christian routine – and put it into action.
Welcome these babies, support these mothers, congratulate the fathers – do your very, very best.
Send the message: Hey, something special has happened – here’s a new guest, a new human being, a new person to know!
If you are pro-baby, pro-mother, pro-pregnant lady, then prove it with your thoughtfulness, not your hours logged on the sidewalk. By the time you see a woman across the street, entering that building, she’s probably already decided. I’ll talk about her in future posts and how to reach the woman who is in her 11th hour, but for now, let’s talk about the future clientele for that building.
These future abortion-seeking clients come from, believe it or not, your own families (both extended and near), your own friends, your own neighbours. Those who get abortions are not always quite so “out there” – they are often so silently near. They counted you as someone who wouldn’t understand (being so pro-life of course), someone who was too busy, who didn’t lend an ear, who didn’t care about baby, about baby number three. What would you care, they figured, about baby number four?
You won’t know the difference, you won’t be the wiser. You won’t be consulted, but your sister is, well, she’s back on the Pill. And when the Pill doesn’t “work,” well, she’s booked at some clinic on the other side of town.
Don’t worry – you won’t hear about it. You’ll be on some sidewalk somewhere while she slips in some door to “deal with” baby number four. That considerate word, that lasagna unmade, could have made all the difference in the world.
But you didn’t do it, you didn’t say it.
You were too busy thinking of babies in theory, the babies “at risk,” to think of the babies right there in your midst. Out on the sidewalk, holding that sign, you were being “pro-life.” It’s okay, it’s alright, I know you mean well, but the task really is much easier and much harder than that.
A mind is changed one heart at a time.
Be that heart-changing difference.
Be that new perspective, that welcome, that smile, starting now.