Little Things in Everyday Life

When I first became a father, I was traumatized by the experience. There was part of me that rebelled in being tied down with such an awesome responsibility. I am thankful to God that he changed my heart and helped me accept the gift of fatherhood.

What I have discovered is that my greatest joys in life, bar none, relate to my children. Getting the right job, having an article published, making a book deal; none of those things compare to the exhilarating happiness I experience as a result of things my children do or say.

For example, I like to give my kids nicknames. My son Andrew can’t stand it. He is very strong on the rules. That means I can only call him Andrew. Not Bigstuff. Not Anderson. Not Handsome. Just Andrew. But little Grace, at age four, takes things a little more easily. We used to call her Baby Grace, then Baby G. Lately, I’ve taken to calling her Gracie-tot or Tabitha the Tot or little Tiger.

Yesterday, I picked her up in my arms and said, “I like to call you nicknames. Is that okay?”

She replied in the happiest little voice you ever heard, “Okay, Daddy. You can call me Pipsqueak. How about that?!!”

My heart melted in a pool of happiness at her goodwill, desire to please, and awesome overall cuteness.

Andrew, by the way, went to a new pediatrician with his mother yesterday. When the doctor asked Ruth whether Andrew was on a multi-vitamin, he precociously beat his mother to the punch by announcing, ” I have vitamins, but I never get to take them because Mom says I’m too late for school and I have to hurry.” He’s big on honesty.

For those of you who CHOOSE to be childless, think twice about it.  It’s true you won’t enjoy restaurants as much and your time won’t be your own.  But the emotional return on watching this little person, who really is part of you, grow up is impossible to duplicate with ski weekends or trips to Mexico.


2 thoughts on “Little Things in Everyday Life

  1. and for those of us who can never have their own children it is a sad thing… however, I have really enjoyed being allowed in to my friends’ families, it continues to be a real joy to see them grow, and change, be caught in wonder, or make observations that would cause the mightiest of scholars give up an argument speechless… my small participation gives me an inkling… it must be ever much more when they’re your own =)

  2. I’m sure the five people that are childless by choice that might read your blog may learn something, but I have some real qualms about what you’ve expressed here. This sounds like a common argument among Christians that until you have a child you don’t really know God, happiness, non-selfishness, or pretty much anything you want to argue is good (the ends justifies the means don’t they?).

    Now I think that the world would be a better place if people had more children, or even if more children dropped out of the sky, but where is the least bit of evidence that having children makes people less selfish? It can as easily make them more so, and regularly does as far as I can tell. And since when are people a good judge of their own selfishness? If having children were such a great form of spiritual development and the type of non-selfishness supposedly fostered by having children was such a positive virtue, shouldn’t there be some Bible passages testifying to this fact?

    Is the emotional return on watching a person “who really is part of you” … “impossible to duplicate”? This sound a bit too close to the view that children “of our own” are of extremely high value, while others not so much. And this is why we have people who use all manner of technology driven baby-making to try to obtain children “of our own” even if means dehumanizing us all and making the world an ugly place for the children “produced” and the rest of us. I’ve got news. Those children … aren’t “your own” any more than the countless children (and others) all around us who desperately need God’s love.

    Some points.

    1) For people convinced that nothing but children “of their own” will do … the child has come. He came 2,000 years ago. And he is sufficient. Really.

    2) Fatherhood is a spiritual vocation. A true Christian man has within him the ability to love children as his own who are outside the family as God directs him. My wife and I are childless, but God has directed me to show his love to two neighbor girls who have no father. In a few years I developed such a powerful love for them that even now I often just stare into space and daydream about them and say to myself “I’m the luckiest man in the world”, as I often tell them. It is a romance of tremendous power. They are as much “mine” as your children are “yours”. And I know I will be their father until I die. It is also possible my family will expand with others as God lead, but it will surely not lose any members. And I know my love for them is at least as strong as the love between a biological father and daughters -I suspect more strong. That is as it should be -I suppose Mary Magdalene had a father daughter relationship with Christ of extraordinary power and beauty. I suppose perhaps the same thing might be said (if we knew more) about John’s adoption of Jesus’ mother at His command.

    3) The intense love between adults and children is developed through need. If you want to experience a deep love, just go to an orphanage or a nursing home where there are people without those to care for them and see how people respond to you if you attend to them in love. It is entirely within your power to consider those God calls you to love as “yours” until death. And if you reject this vocation as most will, see how unselfish you feel now.

    4) There is a deep and healthy tradition of a theology of romantic love (also called the via positiva) in Christianity regarding one’s relationship to Christ. But the “have kids to really know God” and “family first” views thrown about so much these days in church is not it, but something else entirely. See the monastics or Dante about the former. Or ask me if you can get my head out of the clouds as I dream about my beautiful princesses and our life together.

    5) If you are childless, don’t envy those with children. Seek God first and all things will be given to you. When people ask if I “have children” they may be puzzled by the strange hesitation that I often display (do I say “yes” or “no”), but I usually bow to social convention and say “no”. But if they are the type who pity those without children (you can see it in their eyes), it doesn’t make me upset at all. Because it just reminds me of my two girls, and when that happens I get a distant look in my eyes and I find myself repeating to myself silently “Luckiest man in the world …”.

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