|pregnant with Mia|
totally frightened, still totally clueless, but happy
|Out with Mia at 5 weeks, |
feeling like champs for having survived
And then, as a friend and I were discussing some of the challenges that can accompany a teething baby (sleepless nights, irritability--both for baby & mom, lack of personal time, etc.), another friend asked, "So why do you have kids?" Her point being that this current discussion about all these unpleasant things really makes parenting look like no walk in the park and why anybody would want to proceed with it after hearing all this seems insane.
I can relate to that question, I really can. I mean, why would you want to do something like that? Why would you want to give up your free time, your sleep, your sanity, your late nights with your friends, or spouse, maybe even a piece of your independence or your career, for little children who cannot reason or think quite as well as you can and sometimes drive you to the breaking point??
All I could tell her, was that I knew what she was thinking and I'd been there, but what I have been learning in my grand 2 years of experience is that none of this lasts forever. I used to think after I had Mia that I was trapped. I could never leave the house again, and if I did, I would not be enjoying myself because I'd be worried that she'd need me or something horrible would happen. I used to think I'd never be able to hang out with friends or go out, because the timing of things interrupted the baby's current sleep schedule and I needed to honor that. Or because she needed milk from me and I had to be physically present to provide it. All that too, did pass. I also was afraid she'd never sleep through the night, or never go to sleep without bouncing. While her sleeping is not 100% consistent, the bouncing actually did pass. It now honestly seems like a distant memory but it took up sooooo much of our time in her first several months.
So why am I doing this again--having a child, that is? There are a lot of reasons, and of course it's different for everybody. Even though parenthood is not what I had put on my schedule for the calendar year 2009, it's what God put on my schedule and it was His time. So, fight it as we might, we rolled with it. Some of our reasons are practical -- this would be, in our minds, good spacing/timing for another baby now that Mia is here. Some of our reasons are emotional -- we'd love to have another baby to love. Some of our reasons are hard to describe or adequately put into words. Being a parent, while totally more trying than any other thing I've ever had to do in my life, has given me more a sense of purpose and direction than anything ever has in my life. So being in this place, while I occasionally wish to be somewhere else (alone, by myself, with my own thoughts and a bathroom door that I can close), this place is where I am.
I have quoted Ecclesiastes 3 before, and right now it is my mantra. When I struggle with Mia's behavior, or I struggle with disappointment or discontent over various things, or worry about this/that, I have to remind myself, this is only for a time. God did not designate me to be here in this place forever. I was only a college student for a time. I only worked at varying places for a time. Greg & I were only just the two of us for a (very short) time. And now we are here and trying, sometimes failing, but nonetheless trying, to make the most of it. Why am I doing this? Because that's where I am.
I am so nostalgic at times, and I know in the future I will actually be nostalgic for these times, even though we have our bumps in the road. I will be nostalgic for a little girl with fluffy blonde hair who sings her own songs and tries to convince us of things we know aren't exactly true (not that she's lying, she's just trying to exert her own independence). I will be nostalgic for a baby in my belly who I can feel flutter and move around, even when that baby is Lord Willing pulling out my hair, teething, or not eating well. I will be nostalgic for the times when I had less wrinkles in my face and smothered coconut oil into my dry pregnant skin when I've never been able to do that before in my entire life. I will be nostalgic, so right now, I choose to remember, and to know that this is all for a time.
Why do I have kids? Because it's where I am. I didn't know that it could, but it makes me a better person. So this is what we do...and it will only be for a time.
How do you answer this question? When you think about where you are as a parent, how do you keep pushing forward?
And now, if you want your heartstrings tugged at country-style, listen to this Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish, anyone?) song called, "It won't be like this for long":