I am currently blogging, along with my daughter, all the way through the alphabet. Check out how the idea started, and get the rules here.
I never wanted kids. I didn’t grow up with a dream that someday I would get married and have children. I did want a wife — an adult companion to share my life with. But children never figured into the picture. And then it happened. Not pregnancy — I didn’t connect much with the idea that I was going to be a father. It seemed so abstract. I’m talking about birth. I was blown away at that event and I sobbed huge body-racking sobs when Brittany was born. She wasn’t the only one born that day.
After she was placed in my arms and I bawled pathetically for quite a while, she was taken to the nursery where she was doted on by the nurses. Eventually 25 hours of helping Christy through horrible labor (that ended in c-section), caught up to me and I was exhausted. I kissed Christy goodnight and went home to rest up a little bit. But after just a few hours, I felt compelled to go back to the hospital. I just wanted to to sit with my new baby and hold her. That baby is 17 years old now, but that desire hasn’t changed much just to be in her presence, enjoy her company. Only it has tripled, as I have found myself every bit as intensely connected to the two others who came after her.
When I found out we were expecting Kyra, I remember worrying that I used up all my love on daughter #1, and feared that I wouldn’t have any love left for another child. I was wrong, of course, and knew it the instant I saw her, crying every bit as hard as I did with Brittany. Then, when Kyra was only four months old, we found out we were pregnant with Anna. Christy, of course, was still recovering from her last c-section, and was fearful and exhausted. I remember holding Christy while she cried and being grateful that she couldn’t see my face at the moment, as a tear of happiness rolled down my cheek. I knew from having already had two that I had enough room to love a third one, and this time I was excited and actually ready to have a child.
Later we visited the OB’s office, where she confirmed that we were having yet another girl. I was weeping again in the car on the way home. Christy asked what was wrong, wasn’t I happy, and I said, “I’m happy — but I’m going to be the father of three girls. Three graduations. Three girls dating boys. Three young women leaving the nest. Three weddings. I’m in for a lot of heartache.”
I was only partly right. Yes, there has been a lot of heartache. But the heartache always comes from love. It’s pain I would never choose to spare myself if it meant not experiencing the joy they bring to me every second of the day. And they bring it not because they are all gorgeous, and intelligent, and full of amazing warmth and potential (all of which are true) but simply because they are mine. They have, without self-consciousness and without effort, taught me about love — opened me to it and helped me find it in myself. They have shown me what forgiveness looks like when it is not forced. They have taught me about grace and about compassion. Every day I see God in them. When I am with them, I am the best version of myself — free to love without difficulty, without forcing it, able to see everything through eyes of love. They are the best of me and the best of their mom, combined. As I have preached before, my love for them is ultimate, but not in any way heroic. I just don’t know how to not love them.
I think all of life is this way. It is those experiences we never asked for that make the most of us, that grow us the most, that open us up the most to life. It is often the things we did not ask for in life that we wouldn’t consider giving back. Most of us have experienced this with our children, and this is the basis for optimism. Nothing will come your way that will not grow you, even as it tests you to the limit of your abilities. There truly is joy in the journey.