It’s MY Baby

Here’s an important realization that I worked through which proved helpful for me as a dad.

Susan and I raised five sons before adding two more children to our family. The gap between son number five and child number six was fourteen years. Our “baby of the family” was a teenager when our first daughter was born. Over two years later our seventh child (our sixth son) was born.

For several years looking after the new babies in the family was made easier by the input of our older sons. Those boys learned how to bath a baby, how to clean a baby’s dirty bottom, and so on. The workload was shared around seven people.

Gradually, however, the older sons become less available, as they married off, found employment and so on. The ready helpers evaporated and an increased workload fell to Susan and me.

That’s where my own maturity had to take yet another step forward.

I found myself feeling miffed that I didn’t have the help I had become accustomed to. I found myself irritated when my plans had to be adjusted to accommodate the demands of the young children. I seemed to think that someone else should be feeling the impact of these children and not me. I had important things to do, places to go, plays to pursue.

Then it hit me! I realized one day, as the baby needed attention and there was no-one else to delegate the job to, that “It’s MY baby!” That tender young life in need of care, attention, love and affection was in my home, on the planet, because of choices made by ME, not someone else. This baby was not someone else’s responsibility. My daughter and son were not someone else’s problem, nor someone else’s distraction. They are MY children, born to me as a direct consequence of my actions, according to my hopes and dreams. Even if they had not been wanted, and they certainly were wanted and planned for, I would still have to accept full and final responsibility for them.

Coming to that realization was a wonderful release for me. I stood to my feet and headed in the direction of the crying child, with new resolve and with new energy to meet the challenges. The tiny voice was calling for Me, from My child. I found it easy then to release my sons to move off into the things for which they had been raised and prepared. I released them from being the caregivers for my baby. I released them from having to be “on duty”, with their lives on hold.

Are You Ready for Reality?

Sarsha & Dijon are deeply in love. She desperately needs him to help her after a troubled childhood. He is totally captivated by the idea of being her troubadour. He is going to make her happy and she is going to complete him. The fantasy has begun and they eagerly marry so they can live their dream.

Many irresponsible months later, after notching up a string of giddy moments and experimental exploits Sarsha and Dijon are going to have a baby. It is one big adventure and it’s just SO exciting to them both. This is their greatest achievement and the fruit of their delirious love for each other.

But after a wrenching year of incredible duress the couple are struggling to maintain their marriage. They DEFINITELY will NEVER have another child. Babies are just SO demanding. The impact of the baby on their free-wheeling lifestyle has been traumatic. The load placed on their flimsy relationship has almost been to breaking point.

What went wrong? Why didn’t the baby fit into the fantasy? Why did the bubble of delusion ever have to be burst? Why couldn’t the baby just do what the parents wanted it to do? Why couldn’t they just continue their silly game with a baby as part of the picture?

What went wrong for this couple is that Reality hit. Their foolishness did not dictate reality, but simply hid their eyes from it. Giddy giggles are not the stuff on which real life is built. Shallow personalities and empty values are straw, no matter what they dress up as.

This couple was not ready for reality, but reality is what they had. Over the next few years they will both mature, even if painfully and haltingly. They will finally come to the place where they see other things than their fantasies. Hopefully that day will come, for their sakes and for the sake of their baby.

Immaturity and romantic fantasies do not prepare people for parenting. And in our highly peer-streamed culture few young adults have shared in the care and nurture of babies and children. Many young mums have never held a baby before their own. Many young dads are ill-prepared for the invasion of a young dependent baby into their home.

Children are a blessing from God and are God’s reward. Yet many people reel in shock under the unexpected impact of a baby in their life. The problem is not with the baby, but with the way our culture prepares people for reality. The “happily ever after” stories and self-indulgent values rob many of reality and undermine their chances of a healthy start to marriage and family.

The reality check which comes from a first child and the work-load resulting from a growing family are what contribute to a person’s maturity. I have heard it said of a young man and woman at times, they have much going for them but will be so much better value once they have been married and started a family. The experience of facing realities which marriage and babies force upon them brings out a maturity and strength that is needed.

I encourage those who have not yet started a family to spend time with those who have. I encourage those who have young children to actively involve children, youth and young adults in the experience of caring for the child. These experiences help bring reality into the understanding, and protect people from the fantasies that would otherwise overwhelm them.