Earlier this summer, I watched a pair of robins build a nest and care for their young in the holly bush right outside my study window. It was impressive to see them feed their chicks, carry the poop away from the nest, stay constantly close by, and set off frequent alarm calls. But what really moved me was the way the mother robin had brooded over her eggs. Her patient brooding brought me back to an evening a quarter of a century ago when my son Andy had just turned one, and my husband was away on a trip.
Late that night, Andy started to have trouble breathing so I called the pediatrician’s office and was immediately put through to the doctor on call. He explained that Andy had the croup and described what to do. To help Andy breathe, I had to keep him upright in a very moist environment. So I spent the rest of the night awake in a rocking chair, holding Andy upright in our tiny bedroom with the door closed and the humidifier turned up to the max. I was dripping with sweat, but what I remember most keenly was a feeling – a rare feeling of perfect calmness and clarity. I had no conflicts. There was no place else that I needed to be and nothing else that I needed to do but to hold my baby and listen to him breathe.