Little Mae had fever yesterday and is still sick and miserable today, though not as much as yesterday. Her fever broke sometime overnight and she was actually smiling this morning.
Yesterday as we snuggled together and she cried and snotted all over me, I started thinking about something.
I’ve heard girls say they want to have kids because they want to escape their own dysfunctional family. They want someone to love them. They want someone to need them. And so on and so on.
Something occurred to me as I thought about this. While yes, babies do love and need us, it’s only ever on their own terms. Babies want to snuggle when they are sick, staying up past their bedtime, between fits of crying and throwing up. Babies want to play at 3 am because they don’t realize it’s time to sleep. Babies completely ignore us when they are playing with something or when we want to snuggle or we want them to pay attention to us. They resist snuggling when they are awake or when we want to snuggle.
That is the problem with having children for selfish reasons. Children don’t fit into that nice little box of someone to love and need us. They need us on their terms, not ours. They need us when it is inconvenient. They inconvenience our lives from top to bottom. From the moment they arrive until the moment we or they die, they inconvenience us.
When we decided to have kids (and dogs) we knew that there would be some aspect of inconvenience and interruption. I don’t think we ever realized how much, though. We can’t leave at a moment’s notice anymore for days at a time. We have to plan trips around meals and naps and diaper changes. We have to remember about diaper changes. I have to remember to keep up with washing cloth diapers, just like others have to remember to keep up buying disposable diapers. Then there’s bath time and baby food and keeping dishes clean and play time and toys and this developmental milestone that replaces the other ones that I just got used to. There’s immobility then suddenly they’re mobile and you have to lower the crib mattress and nap strikes and learning how to undo diapers and crying for no apparent reason and on and on it goes.
Of course, there are the morning smiles and fun times and all the really, really wonderful stuff. That doesn’t replace the fact that children are supremely inconvenient. It’s so important to try to reach out to those around us who want to have kids and educate them about these little facts. Our children are our future. They are the future of our society. They are the future of our planet. There is nothing more important that we do as parents than raising our children. There is no job, no career, no volunteering, no activity more important.
Of course, as we get busier as a society, I think we try to cram so much living into the few hours we have after work and before bedtime. We try to give our kids all kinds of experiences like sports and music lessons and scouts and adventuring and whatever else that we forget to simply spend time with them. We forget about the fondest memories we have as kids – those memories where a parent just spent time with us. Most times, we don’t necessarily remember what activity we were doing, we just remember the time we spent together.
Yes, my baby loves me. More than anyone else right now, just ask her dad. She is not my sole purpose for living, though, and I didn’t have her to fill some empty place in my soul. No earthly relationship can do that and it’s especially unfair to ask children to do so. The only relationship that can fill that void in a soul is a relationship with Jesus Christ, who died for us to have that relationship. As a parent, that is an especially poignant image because I would give up my life in one second if it meant my daughter could live. Christ gave up his life so WE CAN LIVE! If you want someone to love you unconditionally, look no further than Christ. If you need purpose, look no further than Christ. Everything you need will be found in that relationship. We were meant to fulfill a greater purpose than we could dream. There is so much heartache and brokenness on this planet but we can combat that with the love with Christ. Don’t ask for meaning or purpose from a baby. Ask for it from the Creator of the universe. You will get purpose and more, the grandest adventure of your life.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. -James 1:2-8