A Practice: Gazing at our Children in Love

We love our children. At least most of us would say we do without any hesitation. But how often do we talk to them, or at them, in anger? How often do we lose patience with them or even want to be rid of them for a time? Likely we all had these moments.

When you have a small baby it can be easier to feel pure uncomplicated love. Especially when you are used to older children who can talk back, say no, and push all of our buttons because they know what they are, the innocence and dependence of a small baby can help us remember that unconditional love we have for our children.

Our New Book

My dear friend Sarah and I just published a book today (!!) with Ancient Faith Publishing to help mothers use the first 40 days after their child’s birth for spiritual growth. You can find it here. Our hope is that our words will be meaningful to mothers not just of newborns but children of any age. The book is sprinkled with exercises and Ancient Faith is hosting a special podcast series for guided recordings of all of the exercises here. One of the exercises we lead is something I came up with when my first child was born – a practice my husband and I called simply “baby gazing”. The entire practice is simply an experience of watching your child, as if for the first time, with all of his or her miraculous features. “Fearfully and wonderously made.” Everything from the smelling baby’s skin to listening to baby’s coos or soft breathing to counting each of the tiny toes and fingers and feeling their powdery soft skin.

Whatever their age

While there is something truly miraculous about newborn babies with all of their tininess and vulnerability this is exactly the kind of exercise we could do with children of any age. We happen to have a baby in the house right now and since I’m up multiple times a night my husband has been sleeping in another room and I have allowed the older children to take turns sleeping in mommy’s bed. When I’m up in the middle of the night after caring for the baby I often turn over to gaze at my sleeping older child. They are just as miraculous as a baby and the same exercise works for helping me increase my gratitude of and love for my older children. Seeing the way that their bodies curl around the blankets and the pillow. Listening to their breathing. Perhaps even laying a hand on their chest and feeling the miracle of their heart beating and their breath going in and out. These moments can help us to recharge and let our children teach us to love?  We don’t need to wait for our children to be asleep to observe and admire these small icons of Christ that we have been given to shepherd. Watch your child absorbed in play or reading. Watch them playing in the sand or eating an ice cream. Simply sit with your child in your lap. The more spiritually advanced of us may even be able to use the moments when our children are in the throws of their own passions to connect with, empathize with and heal with love.

Start now, be here now

So often our minds are filled with fears hopes and dreams for our children and their future. But right now wherever we are and whatever we and our children are doing can be a moment to connect with the now – remembering and reconnecting with how deeply we love these children and using this to remind us how deeply we are loved by our heavenly Father.

With love in Christ,

Sasha

About Sasha Rose Oxnard

Sasha Rose is an Orthodox Christian and a mom. She also happens to be a family doctor, a wife, friend, daughter, amateur gardener, lover of music, dance, art, animals, nature and all things playful. Now adding blogger and writer to the list. She currently lives, works and prays in New England with her husband, four small children, dog, 2 cats and 5 chickens.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Sasha and Sarah, I just wanted to let you know what a gift your book is to me. I am 3 weeks postpartum with my 3rd baby but first time to experience it through an Orthodox lens with the gift of 40 days. I read Laura Jansson’s beautiful book, Fertile Ground, during pregnancy and was wishing there was some sort of book for the 40 days after. Last week I found her Facebook page for the book and threw the idea out there. Almost immediately she replied that Sacred Beginning was in the works and would be released this fall. 2 days later she replied again that your book had just been released! I am in awe at God’s goodness and love that he has met this desire of my heart to walk meaningfully this 40 journey. Glory to God! The timing is perfect. Thank you for your sacrifice and obedience to write this book. I’m a new Orthodox convert (celebrating my one year of chrismation this weekend) and am so excited to to be able to infuse this 40 days postpartum with my walk with Christ.

    1. Megan,
      Glory to God! We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to share and put together our ideas. What a blessing to know it is being read and enjoyed. I pray God grant you and your family health and patience and love and forgiveness during this beautiful time! My apologies for just seeing this message now. In Christ,
      Sasha

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