Besides lamenting how our baby girl is growing too fast, we’re also reflecting a little bit on the complete upheavals our lives have taken this past year. Here’s a quick list of some things that we’ve discovered along the way. Some of these are just revelations about ourselves, some may or may not have anything to do with money and finances, but these all tell us what is truly important in life.
1. There’s no place like home. Maybe it’s just the chronic tiredness, but never have we enjoyed staying home so much before in our lives! Oh, our childless friends on Facebook are posting selfies from some exotic location? We’re happy to just pass out for an afternoon nap on our baby’s bedroom floor! Seriously though, I dread having to travel now without my family. It’s terrible to have to leave them behind, even if it’s just for a short weekend trip. Then again, traveling altogether with a little baby comes with its associated headaches too. So yeah, staying home has never sounded better.
2. There’s never enough time. The saying that kids grow up so fast is not a lie. There seems to never be enough time. Between feedings and clean-ups and naps, the days whiz by like a blur. We have to keep reminding ourselves to not get so caught up in simply “getting things done” that we neglect the connection in the midst of it. It’s not getting everything done so that we can connect—that rarely happens. But rather connecting in the process of living life. Still a lesson I could apply better.
3. Stuff’s not important. We think our baby is pretty happy, she’s cheerful, bubbly, and giggles a lot. We bought her a toy from the thrift store for her birthday that has colorful animals that pop up when she presses some buttons or pulls some levers. We thought she’d love it! After a minute of fiddling with it, she promptly grabbed our empty Kleenex box and started playing with that instead. We’re glad we only spent $1.50 on that birthday gift! It’s true, our baby hasn’t shown any preference for name brand or expensive stuff—she mainly just wants to be with us. Apparently happiness doesn’t come from having the latest and greatest stuff! Let’s hope she stays that way!
4. Everyone’s got an opinion on what you should be doing with your kid. Sometimes I joke with Deb that I’d like to get on Facebook one day and just lob a single incendiary word or statement out to the crowd like, “Vaccines!” or “Co-sleeping!” or “Spanking!” or “Let babies cry it out!” and then just see what happens. You’ve seen those mile-long threads on volatile subjects like these, right? It seems fashionable for everyone to have heated opinions about every facet of parenting these days, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do with our child. But what we’ve had to learn is that while others are entitled to their opinions, ultimately we will be held accountable for how we raise our child. So we choose our advisors wisely (be they books or people), try to adhere to Biblical principles as best we can, and filter out the noise.
5. All children have become more precious. Deb’s always had a soft spot for kids, and I’ve enjoyed kids too. But something really strange happened after becoming a father to my own child. Rather than feeling a preference for my own child that decreases my appreciation for other children, I’ve found that in a strange way, all children are more precious to me now. It’s as though I’ve developed a whole new capacity to appreciate children that I previously didn’t have. I’d like to think that in a small way, God’s used this experience to help me understand His love for us a little bit better.
6. The good outweighs the bad. The first few months of parenthood was absolutely grueling. I say that as an intellectual statement of fact that I know somehow as true, but the joy and excitement that have come since then so outweighs those memories that it’s hard to really recall those crazy, sleepless nights a year later. While the difficult moments are often intense in sharpness and pain, they just don’t compare with the positive that comes along. I tell Deb quite frequently, that it seems things just keep getting better and better.
So we’ve survived our first year of parenting and are gearing up for year two. We certainly haven’t figured everything out yet, but above all we’re still wondering where the last twelve months have disappeared to!
All you parents out there, how has parenting changed your outlook on life?