It never fails...
... when we are making headway on a math lesson...
.... when they are captivated by our newest chapter book...
... when we are engaging in conversation about the upbringing of a composer or artist...
... the baby cries.
The baby needs a diaper change, or to be nursed, or to be re-situated. The toddler wants another snack, or some attention, or the toy train from a just-out-of-reach shelf.
The Intermittent Interruptors
In these moments I am tempted toward frustration or discouragement, the needs I believe bumping up against the needs I perceive. Babies (and toddlers) are a blessing that bring with them enormous joy... and interruption. If you have older children in the home, these interruptions can seem to be an obstacle to your efforts to teach and instruct the older child(ren).
How are we supposed to teach out 10-year-old the intricacies of the Ten Commandments or explore Aquinas' five proofs for the existence of God with out high schooler when we are endlessly called to care for and cuddle our newest family member?
Our guidance comes from general homeschooling-with-babies advice: sometimes the baby *is* the catechesis.
The Miracle Moments
Of course, the wonder and sweetness of the baby is itself reason enough to praise the True God. Taking moments to marvel at the miracle of this new life is always time well allotted. It's a gift to have our children under one roof, the older ones having the privilege of watching their sibling grow.
In terms of vocational preparation, having a baby around—with all its blessed interruptions—is a wonderful opportunity. If our child is called to marriage and parenthood, they will learn the practical skills of diapering, feeding, burping, and soothing. Their frameworks for their future will be realistically and joyfully laid. If they are called to the priesthood or religious life, these same skills will benefit their service to the Church. They will most likely be serving families in some capacity, and their childhood experience will enable them to relate to the trials and triumphs of having small ones in the house.
A Catechesis on Virtue
Take it further, and even the responsibilities and frustrations that come from a baby's dependence instruct our hearts in incredible ways.
As humans (both adults and kids alike) we do not like being interrupted or slowed down. We are easily irritated by those who cannot keep pace with us or who don't seem to understand the task or goal we are trying to complete.
In our fallen nature, we are selfish and self-seeking.
As a mom, you are already aware of how a baby purifies us of much of this if we let him. But these lessons of sacrificial and selfless love can extend to our other children, too. A baby can teach us that holiness is found in the present moment, in finding joy in Him amidst the diaper changes and feedings and snuggle breaks and gas bounces.
A baby blessed us with the opportunity to love and live the Ten Commandments, to behold one of the most miraculous proofs of God's existence.
So greet the baby's blow out with your ten-year-old by your side so she sees what love of neighbor looks like in action. Feed the baby and let her fall asleep on your teen's chest as you return to Aquinas.
And some days, let the baby be the catechesis.