This I believe
I believe being a parent is an amazing gift. Whenever we see friends who are having a baby for the first time, my husband likes to say, “They tell you everything will change when you have a baby, but they never tell you things change for the better.” I like to borrow a line from the Peace Corps and say, “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
I was not one of those girls who always knew growing up that she wanted to be a mom. But after I got married, and as I began to creep into my late 20’s, I started to experience an ache for children. . After a difficult 18 months of trying to get pregnant, we were shocked and excited to discover we were having twins. Around 24 weeks gestation, our doctor referred us to a specialist. One of our girls was not growing. Two weeks later I was hospitalized. As I lay in that hospital bed that first night, unable to sleep, I began to realize that parenting is not for wimps.
I’m not sure there’s an experience that makes one more vulnerable than becoming a parent. There I was in the hospital, loving these two unborn children with a ferocity I never knew was possible, and yet all I could do was wait and hope. Two months later our daughters were born at 33 weeks gestation. I looked at our 2 teeny, fragile, beautiful girls and wept. Everything changed in that moment. My life and my heart were no longer my own. I began to slowly understand what it truly means to love another person unconditionally, and all the joy and pain that comes with that kind of love. I don’t profess to understand the mystery of God’s love, but I started to understand His love for me as my love grew for my children.
Having children helps me see myself as I really am- both the good and the not-so-good parts. I learned that I was quite selfish with my personal time and that sleep is a big motivator. Over those first few months my appreciation grew for my husband as we shared in the responsibility and privilege of caring for twins. As our kids grew, I noticed how good they are at copying what they see and hear. I do a better job of filtering what I say and how I say it because it will likely come back when I least expect it. My girls also copy what I do. It’s motivating to me to live my life the right way when I see my girls doing the right thing and sharing with others. How they live their life gives me a glimpse of how I’m living mine.
I get this amazing gift of seeing the world through their eyes and experiencing moments from their perspective. I remember one day I was teaching one of my daughters how to ride a bike. There was a mixture of frustration, tears, perseverance, and excitement coursing through our veins. She said, “Mom, can we just lay down for a minute in the grass?” We didn’t say a word to each other for a long time as we lay there in the cool grass looking at the sky above. We were truly there in that moment together- nothing else mattered. After awhile she got up and started pedaling again. All was right and good in our lives. My heart swelled as I watched her ride her pink and purple bike through the grass. She is mine, but not mine to keep. I’m OK with that. Love is something that is shared- it is not mine to keep, but to give.
So, this is what I believe: the love between a parent and a child is a precious gift from God, and I choose to cherish that gift.
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