These past four months have been a roller-coaster ride, a whirlwind, a picture of chaos…and anything else that denotes that my world has been crazy. That being said, it’s been pretty awesome. Being Dad to my baby boy and baby girl has been tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Never in my life have I been more tired, more frustrated, and…even more tired. But, conversely, never in my life have I been happier. I’ve learned so much about myself, including my shortcomings, and about parenting. So, I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve learned.
1) Being a mother is difficult. As a stay-at-home dad, I assumed many of the roles that a mother would normally undertake. I failed at many of them. My wife said it best. “You’re a great dad, but not a very good mother.” And she was right. I’m pretty sure if you take all of the jobs I've ever had and put them together, taking care of two babies is still about three times as hard. Very rewarding, but very difficult. That being said, my perception of stay-at-home moms has changed drastically. When you get the chance, thank your mother for everything she’s done for you. She deserves it. I think it should be mandatory that all mothers get a paid, one-week vacation for Mother’s Day (call it Mother’s Week), on top of the cards and flowers.
2) Parenting is a great revealer of personal and relational weaknesses. I’ve often heard that getting married will reveal how selfish you are (and it does). Having children does the same thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve become frustrated with the lack of sleep or lack of “my time” that I’ve gotten in a day. Sleep is great, and free time is wonderful, but I don’t “need” eight to nine hours of rest every night, and I certainly don’t need time every day to shut myself in a room with little outside distraction. Selfishness leads to frustration, which in turn affects relationships. That often leads to keeping score with our spouses. I changed diapers three times today, how many have you changed? I got up twice last night. Tonight is your night. And so on. I’ve fallen prey to all of this. That being said, I believe wholeheartedly that I’ve grown stronger in my marriage and personal life since having kids.
3) Lastly, parenting is a team sport. I have so much respect for single parents who’ve gone through the craziness of the first few months of a child’s life. Without my wife, I’m fairly sure I couldn’t have done it. Granted, we have twins, but the craziness of unexpected messes, late night wake-ups, and random meltdowns is still tough with one child. I’m probably the weak link on our team, but without the two of us working together, I’m not sure how we could have survived these last few months (at least in sanity). I’m so thankful for my wife and the work she puts into our children. I know it is by this work (and what little help I’m able to give), that we’ll get through some of the upcoming obstacles ahead of us.
A lot of my friends are expecting little ones (my brother and his wife just had a son). Hopefully this blog gives a little insight on some of the ways that you will be stretched as a person individually and in relationships. A little hit to selfishness, a little respect for what parents actually do, a lot of teamwork, and a whole lot of prayer is necessary. We’ve survived by the grace of God, and I know you all will too. There’s a lot of trial and error in the first few months of parenting, but you learn so much. And although it is very hard, there is little in life that can bring you the satisfaction that your children will.