February 5, 2011 8:38:00 PM
Almost 24 years ago, I held her mother, then a newborn, in my clumsy, unaccustomed arms, and I fell hopelessly and madly in love, as my sister-in-law rested from her labor and I rocked baby Courtney for the first time.
A teenage uncle who had probably never even held a baby before, my visit was being carefully observed by my own mother, soon to become "Nanny," who had the good sense to realize my unbridled love and passion for the baby were much stronger than my preparation for this moment.
Apparently, I passed the test with flying colors, and over time I became a constant playmate, cheerleader, surrogate parent, stage uncle and confidante for my first niece. Then came the nephews and even more nieces, and now I am an e-mail buddy for our 7-year-old who shares my fondness for "Toddlers and Tiaras."
Today, however, is about little Arley Justine Sims, born this day in Laurel to Courtney and Archie. I am taken back to that first life-changing moment all those years ago and caught in a poignant reverie of all that has happened since that time.
While Courtney lay resting from her labor -- doting grandmothers, aunts, and others flitting in and out -- it finally came my turn to hold the newborn. Instantly, it happened again. What is this power that babies have over us? Without even trying, with just a coo or a crooked smile brought about as likely by their first potty moment as by the sound of our voice, they exert absolute control over an entire family of adults.
They have the power that no president or ambassador has ever truly known to promote peace among warring factions. They bring hope for a brighter tomorrow that the very best preacher would have a difficult time matching. They make us unselfish and charitable in ways we usually are not, willing to give or to hazard all we have simply for their lives to be better.
I wish for you, Little Arley, a life filled with much joy and with the support and resilience needed to overcome the adversity that will no doubt come sometimes, as it comes to us all.
I wish for lots of lip gloss, a hundred chances for Day-Day (as the young ones usually call me) to brush and tie ribbons in your hair, and a closet full of pretty dresses in every color of the rainbow.
More than that, though, I wish for you a better world, my littlest darling, a world in which we will all support you in becoming absolutely anything and everything you are destined to become -- without expectations, judgments, or boundaries.
I wish for you health and love, most of all true and abiding love, and respect for yourself. With that, other forms of love will come. I wish for you that "one moment in time" that Whitney Houston used to sing about, when you''re "more than you thought you could be."
And, finally, I thank you for bringing your joy into our lives, and I pray for you with all my might as you begin what will no doubt be a path that is both challenging and filled with opportunities to make the world a better place.
Here''s a proposal for you: In about 25 years, and only if it turns out to be part of your master plan, what if I meet you in a quiet room and rock your newborn to sleep as you rest from your labor and as the world comes full circle again?
Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.