What My Baby Is Teaching Me


I once read an article in Essence magazine about Hollywood’s golden African-American couple, Will and Jada. Jada said something which remained with me; she likened a marriage or long term relationship between two loving partners to a mirror, that person reflecting yourself back to you, all the issues we bury or ignore.

I never forgot that analogy, and see it so clearly with the birth of our daughter; each moment she teaches, gently pushing me to face myself in a more authentic way.

While I adored children, those ebullient faces filled with endless promise, I ran from motherhood for years, convinced it would signal the end of freedom; “I will have them when I am successful, wealthy, satisfied in my career…” I repeated over and over to myself.

My husband often jokes that I am the queen of preconditions. Several years ago in what felt like a crossroads within our relationship, he looked defeated, sitting across from me at a pizzeria in Brooklyn, and said dryly “just admit it, you do not want kids.” I smiled, “No,” I assured him, “I do, just wait until I get through graduate school.” “There you go,” he said, nodding his head, “with the preconditions.”

He dropped the subject of kids; we carried on with the fullness of our lives, balancing work and friends, business projects and educational pursuits, until one cold night towards the end of November; we sat in the doctor’s office together waiting for results. Congratulations, the nurse said, her voice imbued with the kind of universal joy reserved for bearing good news, “You all are having a baby.”

Outwardly I smiled, but felt fear bubbling with the enormous weight of those words. Baby? I repeated the word over and over. I am still figuring out who I am. How will I raise a child wrestling with this nebulous sense of self?

Well, Naima Deja De Coteau arrived at 11:11 a.m. on August 14, two weeks after the due date. Her first lesson for me? Value each moment and maximize it. Just before our daughter entered the world, I pushed for 3 hours; at the time no one realized the umbilical cord was wrapped around her tiny neck twice. Within those moments God was gently preparing her and me for the moment of birth. The time of 11:11 a.m. will remain in my consciousness, a reminder of endurance, beauty and the miraculous power of the divine.

Small pockets of time fill my days, and I maximize them in a way I did not before; when you no longer control nearly 24 hours of the day, flexibility and discipline become essential. There is no time to waste. Ironically I am more determined to blog, write, and push towards other projects than ever.

Of course all of this requires an inordinate amount of patience. Oh how I struggle with this in certain instances, but Naima teaches me that so much is beyond my control, like changing a diaper at 4 a.m., or her outfit after an accident. When the frustration builds, and it does, “patience, patience, Mommy,” her little eyes seem to say.

I now realize I am enough for Naima, with all of my flaws and insecurities, I am enough. This is the most profound lesson God is teaching me through motherhood. Love her with all of yourself; she needs it more than anything you could achieve or buy. Love fully.

Live In Color – E


Emelda De Coteau
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13 Replies to “What My Baby Is Teaching Me”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article. I too, like you; waited for what I thought would be the perfect time to have children. My oldest is 14 and youngest 6 and I continue to be excited from what I learn from them. “Never a perfect time but great moments are created when we have them.” Thank you for sharing Emelda!

    1. Thanks so much, Asha! So glad you enjoyed reading. Yes. There is never a perfect time, but there is def. a right time. :)) Thank you!!

  2. Love the article and motherhood is awesome! As a mother you get to be a superhero, at least that is what our children think because to them mom can do anything. Children are the best teachers in life, through them you learn that GOD is always in control and learn to pray that much more. There will be times when your child may get sick and there are no medications that can cure them, that’s when you pray! Briana taught me that! Briana also taught me to be patient, things don’t or cannot always happen when you want or think when they should but it happens right on time. All those things that I would normally refuse to do, such as: cleaning up the bodily fluids of a preteen. Guess what, I did and didn’t whine about it! After 3 children, I’m still learning!

    1. Yes!! Thank you so much for sharing your story and those beautiful words of encouragement! What a journey indeed, and a wonderful reason to welcome more patience into our lives. 🙂

      1. Qiana you are def. a supermom!! Thanks again for your beautiful words of wisdom!!

  3. This was so beautiful! And what a miracle birth. The cord was wrapped around her neck twice? You are both so blessed and SO very beautiful! Congrats again. Children certainly teach us a lot about ourselves in the most unexpected ways, but above all, I believe they teach us we’re stronger and have more capacity to love than we ever previously imagined. 🙂

    1. Yes!! Thank you so much for reading & visiting! Indeed!! They do deepen our humanity & allow us to look at so much in a novel way! We love your blog, so beautifully written, and would love to have you guest blog sometime. :))

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