If you have kids, you know where I’m going with this. Normally, I think we all have kids for a variety of self-serving reasons. No judgment on this, just an observation. It’s because we want those cute little babies in our arms. Or because our friends are all having kids and we want to join in. Or because we feel like it is the next thing we’re supposed to do with life. Maybe even because we’ve always dreamed of that fun family vacations and the picture perfect Christmas. But in the first 48 hours after that sweet baby shows up in your family you’ve made one realization…the seige has begun.
And it doesn’t get any easier when they can walk, talk and think on their own. That awesome thought you have about the beach trips where you fantasize about white sand, gentle waves and deeply tanned kids running around happily in khakis and white button up shirts or dresses is replaced by a beet red kid screaming at the top of their lungs because they have sand in their eyes and the other kid shoved them into the water and nearly drowned them. Reality crashes into your vision of getting your family together with other families where you can just talk and let the kids have a good time when you realize that you’ve been at their house for two hours, haven’t spoken 3 complete sentences without being interrupted and the only thing you’ve eaten was the half-finished meal your kids left behind.
Don’t get me wrong, having kids isn’t bad or even always as disappointing as my description here. More times than not, we are so in love with our kids that you couldn’t drag us away from them. I have moments regularly where I’m having so much fun with my kids that I lose myself in it. And bed time? Forget abowd id! There is nothing I’d rather do than put my kids down at night. The time with them is beyond joy. Having my middle son invite me to snuggle with him and play. Having a wind down talk with my oldest. To feel the breath of my 5 month old on my neck as I rock him. You couldn’t pay me to not do those things. In fact, I can honestly say that I feel sorry for people that don’t have kids. And not just the ones that can’t have them (of course I feel for them), but for those that are single or married with no kids and no real desire for kids at this point. They just don’t get it.
Here’s my point: Parenting is for losers. Maybe more accurately said, parenting really only works for losers. It works for those that are willing to lose themselves, their egos, their lives for the ones they have chosen to bring into the world. To remind themselves (and be reminded) daily that this isn’t about them. In order to get to those amazing things we so naively envisioned before kids, we have to learn to die. To not do this thing called parenting because it is what was next on the life agenda. Not because it was what everyone else was doing or because we wanted cool family vacations or something to post on Facebook other than drinking pictures and political or religious “social message spam.” For whatever reason we ended up as parents, now that we’re here we have to keep doing it because those kids need us. Heck, the world needs us.
Sound too dramatic? What makes up a culture? A nation? A revolution? Heroes? Leaders? Isn’t it a combination of the character developed by the people that make up those groups, the lessons they’ve learned, the passions they have and the way they think? And who has the greatest opportunity to impact these things? We do. The losers. Their parents.
If we can do the hard things now we get to have the nice things later. I’ve heard several people in the financial world use the phrase, “Live like no one is willing to live now so you can live like no one will live later.” Well that is even more true as a parent. You can’t over invest in your kids. (Note: you can smother them. That is different.)
I for one am enjoying the occasional pains of humility knowing that one day my dreams will come true because I’ve leveraged the greatest power I have…sacrificial love.