I’ll never forget Easter morning this year (never mind that it was like three days ago). Not for the good reasons, like, you know, THE RISEN LORD.
It is because the baby woke up around five to moan juuuust loud and long enough for us to wake up and toss and turn and rip our earplugs out and glare at each other.
My husband and I were both in nursery that morning at church. Parents dropping off their kids were frazzled and tired, just like us. Some kids freaked out and clung to their parents, forcing the parent to kneel down in their dress clothes and try to convince the child that the world will not end if they leave.
I eyed the childless people walking in, looking fresh and happy, getting to talk with other grown ups and sip coffee and not worry about spit up getting all over their shirts. I WAS TOTALLY JEALOUS.
I imagine them lounging in cashmere until 9am, and then having a leisurely breakfast with two hands and no baby food in sight. Putting on make-up without feeling like there is a ticking time bomb in the next room.
I used to be in the fresh and happy childless club. I got to smile and hold other people’s babies and then go take a nap. I got to go to brunch and not worry about interfering with nap-time (the baby’s, not mine). I used to not think about places I can go to that are “stroller friendly”. Oh my gosh, I used to be able to sit and think and write for as long as I wanted. What have I done?!
I remember thinking: Why are we doing this to ourselves? Is it really worth it?
I know, I know…what a terrible thing for a mother to say. (If you ever read this Bera and other future children, I love you!!)
The honest truth is this: children are a pain. They aren’t reasonable, they don’t like to sleep (unless you need to go somewhere, then suddenly nap-time is forever and you miss your commitment), they scream in public, they need to eat constantly then they spit it up all over you and your nice things and they don’t really care if it is cramping your style.
And when I say they are a “pain” I don’t mean it just at the superficial level; just an annoyance. I mean it is a pain to my comfort. It is a stab in my inclination that wants to rest, to eat in peace, to be free or to have an “exciting” or glamorous life. It threatens my agenda and my well being. And perhaps not just when they are little, but maybe longer, into the young adult years. People say it is “rewarding”, but what if it’s not?
Yes, of course they are cute and they laugh and you can post all kinds of adorable pictures on Instagram. They can bring us joy. And they do. So much that I think I might explode when Bera smiles up at me with that dopey smile and sleepy eyes after a nap. But that is not why we have children, is it?
From a completely practical viewpoint, I would say so that I have someone to care for me when I’m old. But this can’t be the reason. The horrible truth is that some kids die before their parents or just aren’t able to care for them.
I have been thinking and thinking on this and perhaps I will never know that deepest reasons, but I can take a guess.
Maybe we have children so that we learn how to let this pain burn away our selfishness.
Maybe it is so that we know this deep, deep love that helps us understand the love that the Father has for us.
But I think that anything that has to do with people is insanely important. I do. They last forever and they matter more than any other thing. I think that interacting with cashiers, traffic cops and friends matters more than we will ever know.
And when you have a kid…that’s a whole lot of interacting. That’s a lot of the stuff that matters and lasts forever.
This is not about me molding a person into how I want them to be (tempting) or to be a mini version of myself, but showing a person the grace that I have found to be redemptive and amazing. A human I see everyday that needs to know the love of Jesus. This is not so that I can feel important or comfortable or always “happy” necessarily. But for a person who will last for eternity to know they are loved by me, even if they can’t return it, and forever cherished by Christ.