Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Confessions of a New Father: I Wasn’t Prepared for This

Looking back, I realize I should have been more aware of what was coming. I had definitely seen enough signs. And yet the true nature of the approaching changes never really struck me—not until reality itself pulled me into its clutches after my daughter’s birth. I guess it’s like they say: there are certain things you just can’t know or understand until you experience them.

You see, I was expecting to enjoy my newborn daughter. What I didn’t expect, and what I wasn’t fully prepared for, was being drastically bulldozed over by an overwhelming array of euphoric emotions and paternal affections.

Yes, I expected my daughter to be like a heartwarming drink from a fresh fountain of God’s goodness. But I have discovered that fountain to be more like a perpetual geyser. I am soaked to the bone, and being this drenched has never felt so amazingly good.

I should have known what was coming when Chloe, my niece, was born and subsequently stole my heart. Being involved in her early life—babysitting, reading books with her, watching her laugh at movies—was the closest thing I had yet experienced to being a parent, and it was a sweet privilege.

I should have known what was coming when my wife and I felt our daughter move in the womb for the first time. It was just a small bump against Shannon’s belly, but it was the first signal we could actually feel from Elanor moving. I erupted in a laughing fit that was an overflow of pure joy.

I should have known what was coming, having read in Scripture that children are a gift and a reward from God Himself (Psalm 127:3). In fact, an abundance of children are as beneficial to a father as a quiver full of arrows is to a warrior in combat (vv. 4-5). There is no substitute for the joys of parenthood.

Now, has it all been smiles, giggles, and prancing through toy stores in slow motion? Of course not. In the few shorts weeks we’ve had Elanor, there have been times of frustration and anger, loss of sleep, and even hopeless bewilderment.

In fact, I’d rather be in bed right now, but I’m up with my daughter, who’s in between crying fits. Her laments are a mix between the sounds of a strangled duck and the staccato hoots of Count von Count from Sesame Street. (Our cat’s not too fond of the noise. Right now, she’s actually streaking from room to room in frustration.) Life with my precious daughter is sometimes challenging.

But that’s how all of life works. Nothing truly worth holding onto is easy. In our saner moments, who wants to settle for “easy?” Lust may be easier than love, but fleeting pleasures can’t hold a candle to marital bliss. A free ride through life may be easier than hard work, but the meaninglessness of endless vacation can’t compare with the satisfaction of vocation. Being the master of your time and money might sound appealing, but the “burden” of family provides a wealth of relationships that cannot be equaled.

As blogger Matt Walsh has pointed out, the good things of parenting are difficult to illustrate “because they’re so deep and transcendent and immeasurable.” Those words accurately describe my experience of fatherhood thus far. Parenting my precious child alongside my wonderful wife has provided countless deep, transcendent, and immeasurable joys.

So yeah, I wasn’t adequately prepared for being a father. But that’s far from a bad thing. It’s just another glorious example of 1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

1 comment:

Cap Stewart said...

Looking back, I realize I should have been more aware of what was coming. I had definitely seen enough signs. And yet the true nature of the approaching changes never really struck me—not until reality itself pulled me into its clutches after my daughter’s birth.

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