I was taking in my life the other day and looked to my husband and said, “When exactly did these little people get here?” It’s amazing how quickly life goes by and how fast we have transitioned from newly weds, to love birds, and now to the parents of two amazing little kids. These past 6 years have gone by so fast, and we’re excited to see what God has planned for the next 60.
But who could have prepared us for the world of parenthood? Pretty much no one. With this transition, there opened up an entire universe, one to which we never knew existed. New rules, new standards, and in fact…a new you. Our lives have changed so much over the past 38 months of parenthood, and with that change has come a lot of sacrifice. Some days you look around at the mess, the laundry, the chaos, and the insanity and all you can think about is the sacrifice…but most days…most days are filled with so much joy and overwhelming blessings.
We have lost some things through the transition into parenthood, but we have gained so much more. Here are some of those things:
1. We have lost sleep: Let me put it this way, no one told me I had to be an early bird in order to put in an application for parenthood. Well….now it’s a little too late. My husband and I love us some sleep, and I look back fondly with memories of Sunday mornings, pre-children, sleeping in until 10:45am and still catching our 11am church service right down the road. No joke.
I can’t remember the last time I have actually seen 10am on my alarm clock. And on sick nights, newborn nights, and teething nights…I see a lot of numbers on that clock (2am, 4am, 6am…) none of which are 10am….
Though John and I have lost many hours of sleep over the past two years, we have gained so much joy. The mornings are a fun time for our family, and it’s incredible to be greeted by these precious little kids that love and adore you so much: to see the biggest smiles on their faces and the immense joy they have in just starting a new day. Such innocence. Such beauty. So much so, that some mornings John and I have resorted to taking turns going in to get them just because we each want to be first to see their precious smiles.
For this, I wouldn’t trade anything…not even all the sleep in the world.
2. We have lost freedom: One of the first changes I felt after the arrival of our first was the complete lack of freedom that we now had. Going from being completely independent, to now having a little life completely dependent on you definitely comes with some pressure. No more late nights out, no more midnight movies, no going out to eat past 7pm (unless you have a sick love for tantrums). Our schedules revolve around our children, and if you’re having a backyard party at 2pm…well, there’s a good chance we can’t make it, because it’s nap time (unless….you have a sick love for tantrums…).
Yet though our life has been somewhat restricted, we have learned to find so much joy in the people in our life rather than the events in our life. There is something indescribably special about spending the evening at home with the kids and playing games, doing crafts, or having a dance party. We have so much fun having picnics at home, walking to the park, and having friends come to play. We’ve learned to connect more with our family, but we’ve also learned to connect more with the friends in our lives. Though we can’t always go to the fanciest restaurants, we can have friends over for pizza, ice cream, and games. Sharing these moments with the people we love have become some of our most special memories. Forget freedom…we have each other.
3. We have lost our hobbies: It’s really a miracle that I’m even writing right now…but it’s only because both kids are in bed. But seriously, there’s a whole lot more that I’d like to do during my limited free time than write. I would love to enroll in cooking classes, go play tennis on a beautiful fall day, and sit and read books at a coffee shop. John would love to play some basketball, take up woodworking, and learn the drums…but you know what, we don’t have the time right now. Beyond our careers and our family, and after spending time with some friends, at the end of the week our time bank is pretty much spent, and our minutes don’t roll over!
Though we’ve given up our hobbies for this stage of parenting, we’ve been blessed to find so many new adventures with our children. I love cooking for my family every day, getting creative with meals and making fun treats. John takes some time out to work with his hands, making things for out kids to enjoy rather than just going out and buying them. We’ve learned to make do with the time that we have and integrate our hobbies in those ways. There will be a day to drive to Starbucks and pick up my books once again …but for now, I’m going to enjoy Dr. Seuss, The Hungry Caterpillar, and All of God’s Critters again, and again, and again while my little ones are snuggled close.
4. We have lost our dreams: You know, lost is a strong word. Rather, our dreams have been transformed. I remember the days of longing to travel, to see the world and write about it. The days spend dreaming of opening a home for troubled teenage girls and pouring into their lives every day. And long…long before that…dreams of playing in the WNBA (yes, this is now funny to me too…).
Though my dreams have come and gone throughout my life, most recently my dreams have been transformed. The moment I saw the precious face of my teeny little babies, I knew my dreams now belonged to each one of them. I live to make them smile, and dream about the day when they will find their purpose, joy, and significance in this world, but more importantly, in the eyes of the God who loves them more than I ever could. For now, I live to teach them those things, and my greatest dreams are for them to know that they are loved. Oh, so loved. For me, there is no greater fulfillment than that.
5. We’ve lost our view of God: My perspective on God has been redefined through my experience as a parent. Though I was in relationship with him, and I knew he loved me, I don’t think I really grasped how ridiculously deep that love was. Having these children as an extension of who I am has taught me to love in a way that I never even knew was possible, and to give of myself in a way I never dreamed I could. To know that I serve a God who loves me in such a deep way is breath taking. He is willing to give everything for me. And he did. His love for me is ferocious, and because of this he wants me to live my life in a way that matters. He wants to fill my heart with joy.
John and I find ourselves learning lesson after lesson about God’s love and grace through our daily interactions with our children. We have gotten just a glimpse of his heart in a way we never saw before–and the Father’s love for us is so much greater than we could have ever imagined.
No matter where we are in life, it’s so much easier to focus on what we don’t have or what we’ve lost, instead of all that we’ve been given. I am so thankful for my children, and for the family God has so graciously blessed me with. Sometimes I need to remind myself of these joys, but I am thankful for a God who is willing to graciously point me to all that I have been given.
The joys far outweigh it all. For that, I’m so grateful.
Article ran originally on truelovedates.com. Used with permission.
Debra K. Fileta is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationship and Marital issues. She, her husband and two children live in Hershey, PA. She is the author of the new book True Love Dates (Zondervan, 2013), challenging young men and women to do dating in a way that is psychologically sound, emotionally healthy and spiritually grounded. Visitwww.truelovedates.com and follow her on Twitter to get your dating questions answered and to learn more.