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Baptism By Spit Up

We modern mamas know what it is to squeeze in one more feeding before we dart out the door and make our way to offices, yoga studios, coffee meetings, and more. We know what it’s like to get dressed and ready for the day only to have our little ones spit up on our outfit, throw food in our hair, smear applesauce across our faces.

Before I had a child, I thought I would NEVER wear something with spit up on it. I couldn’t fathom a situation in which I wouldn’t care about spit up stained clothes or the smell…oh god, the smell!

Now? I find a wash cloth, wipe off the spit up or applesauce or god-only-knows-what, hope it doesn’t leave a stain, and head out the door. Who has time to find something else to wear?

I wrote the following poem when my son was about four months old. I’d just returned to my office job, and we were still figuring out our early morning routine.

I never thought I’d know baptism by spit up, just like I never thought I’d wear something with spit up on it. The universe has a funny way of upending our “nevers” doesn’t it?

A baptism is a cleansing, after all, and my son, with his spit up, his tears, his babbling, his smiles, his love, cleanses me day after day after day. It’s my job to show up and listen. The rest—getting on time to work, finding semi clean clothes, partnering well with my husband—works itself out when I pause and allow the baptism (in whatever form it arrives) to wash over me.

Peace and love, mamas.


Baptism by Spit Up

I’ve known baptisms

by water and by fire,

by rain and by tears.

I’ve known baptisms

that bring me to my knees

and send me dancing through the night.

Today, I know baptism by spit up,

my child’s bodily blessing

as I rush to feed him

before we load the car,

buckle the belts,

drive to school and office and

Midtown and Downtown,

singing an unending litany

of here and there and burp cloths

and bottles and breast pumps and

jackets and diapers and shoes and

lunches and bags and did you get that?

and where did you put those?

and goodbye, I love you

as the door shuts, car starts,

here and there

we go.

There was no falling to my knees

or dancing through the night.

Instead, I sang an “Oh, shit,” and

shouted, “Bring me the burp cloth!”

Did I say please?

Today, I know baptism by spit up,

my child’s bodily blessing

as I rush to feed him.

My child, the greatest

teacher I know.

© Claire K. McKeever-Burgett

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