My wife, Kaile [pronounced Kay-lah for those of you who do not know her], is in week 30 of our first pregnancy. Related to this, there are lots of new concepts and concerns that nothing but writing seems to remedy.
As you read this, you are likely judging me. It is ok! I expect that. I am not naïve enough to think all of these are going to work out just like I hope they will work out. But I do pray for these things. I do desire some iteration of each of these to be made real in my life.
Here they are:
5. Fun Times with Baby
Come on. Who doesn’t love babies? I look forward to having a little person to laugh with [eventually] or even at [more likely]. While our newborn baby thinks to him/herself “my caretakers are supremely ridiculous,” I will be having a great time making faces and cooing as our little one does the baby version of rolling one’s eyes, knowing how utterly silly we both are.
Hopefully all of us will be better off for it.
4. Stronger Connections with other Parents
As recent as this month, people have still mistaken me for a college, or even high school student. At 27, this has gotten old. Maybe it’s the hair. I should begin to comb it sometime. Point sustained. The reality is, I am married. We own a house and a couple cars. We travel. We chose, together, not to have a dog [aha! maybe that’s why it’s hard to imagine me as an adult?].
I look forward to having that connection with others who are currently raising or have already raised children. To experience a significant change in the life journey is to enter into the process of sense-making with others. We will soon be able to compare the narrative of family life with others who are doing the same thing. Eventually, Kaile and I will be able to say, “yeah, that’s great insight on how you disciplined your child,” even if that technique didn’t work for ours. We’ll be able to say to others, “yeah, little [insert name] did okay with potty-training, but junior high was pretty rough.” You get the gist; we will be able to relate in new ways with billions of people.
Oh-it will also be nice to get a little bit more respect about my age.
3. A New Process for Spiritual Formation
For 25 of these 27 years, I have done spiritual formation as a single person. My journey as one of Jesus’s millions of disciples had been done in a certain single kind of way. That changed once when I got married, and will soon change yet again. Soon, I will need to recognize new ways of understanding the journey. This will likely consist of whispering prayers over our child as she/he sleeps. It will involve learning how to apologize to a 7-year-old. It will involve answering questions not as an absolute authority, but as someone who has experienced the hope of God.
It will also surely involve attempting to spiritualize diaper changes.
2. Stronger Bonds in My Marriage
Kaile and I know a new child will bring stress into our marriage. This, I think, is entirely unavoidable. However [go ahead-judge me!], there is also an opportunity to grow. Even writing the previous sentence fills me with wonder. How will Kaile and I learn to depend on one another? How will the challenge of rearing a child bring us toward a greater sense of purpose? How will we come to understand, in a new way, how God blesses the poor in spirit [Matthew 5:3]?
I imagine sitting next to Kaile on a park bench or, heaven forbid, airplane, trying to hush our screaming child. How can we weather that experience and learn to trust one another and receive one another’s input?
For the record, I do not know the answers to these questions. But I think they’re worth asking.
1. A Deeper Knowledge of God’s Love
I still remember a pastor in Chicago sharing a story about his three-day-old son. He reflected on how little the infant had done: “…my son hasn’t done anything! But that’s not why I love him! I love him because he exists!” He went on to make a joke about his son’s breastfeeding tendencies and how that was affecting his [cough cough] intimacy, a joke that he immediately regretted. Needless to say, it was a stressful week for him.
The point about his son stuck with me, though. God does not love us because we enter into the world and cause all kinds of transformation. Most of us are not bubbling fountains of kindness, and we wouldn’t hold a candle to the saints of old. But God didn’t love Mother Teresa or John Wesley or the new pope because of their good deeds. He created us out of love, and he keeps loving us because… well… he just does. He’s God.
I don’t know how my parenting abilities will play out when the rubber meets the road. But I do know that I’m committed. If our child grows up and becomes a promiscuous drug addict, I have to hope that God teaches Kaile and me more about his love, his unconditional, “it’s because I’m God” kind of love. Because we exist, he loves us. He’s God, and he just does that.
To hold a child-our own child-could drive this point home.