Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Parenthood: the Lesson of a Lifetime

I recently enrolled in the hardest class of my life. The teacher? My daughter, Abigail. My mother always said that children end up teaching you much more than you teach them, but I never really believed that to be true until my daughter entered the world. At two months of age, she’s already opening my eyes to new things each day, and teaching me more about myself and what truly matters in life.

I’m learning to find pleasure in simple things. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you have children. Through my daughter I’m discovering the world again. Things I’ve taken for granted, like the intricate details of my fingers, the glow of a lamp, or the way shadows dance on the wall, I’m seeing again through Abbie’s eyes. Suddenly the materialism of the world, and the need I once had to be entertained by the latest gadget or movie, have been replaced by the joy of watching my daughter discover the world around her.

I’m learning to take time to play, and rest.
Before my daughter came into our lives, my husband and I were on a roller coaster ride of busy schedules, and overloaded lives. But something about having a baby has forced us both to re-evaluate our schedules, to slow down and take time for fun and rest. The life of a baby is simple, play, eat, sleep. Nothing more is needed, and through Abbie we are learning to take time simply to stop and rest.

I’m learning that I can’t do it on my own.
I’ve always prided myself in being an independent woman, able to do things on my own and rely on no one. But when I gave birth to my daughter, I was suddenly met with the reality that I can’t do everything on my own. I’ve had to learn to ask for help, express need, and rely on the fellowship of others like never before. And I’m learning that that’s okay. We aren’t designed to travel through life alone.

I’m learning to give up control.
I love control. I am an organized perfectionist, and my home has always reflected this. I live by schedules and routines, and make lists and rely on calendars to organize my life. But when my daughter came into my life, suddenly the control I once had was gone. No longer could I obsessively clean, or live by a tight schedule of tasks and activities. I’ve had to learn to relax, even with a sink full of dishes! This doesn’t mean my house has turned into a mess of laundry, clutter and chaos, but it does mean that I’m learning to accept that the dusting may not get done, or that I may not always look my best.

I’m learning just how selfish I really am.
I never really considered myself to be a selfish person until Abbie entered my life. But it turns out I am. Each day my daughter teaches me to be selfless; to put her needs, and the responsibilities I now have at home, above my own needs. I knew this would be the case in theory, but putting this into practice day in and day out is hard. I’ve found moments when I’ve resented my inability to do my own thing. Through Abbie I’m learning the joy of selfless devotion and sacrificial love.

But above all else, I’m learning to trust and pray.
Never before have I felt so inadequate, so out of control, so overwhelmed, and so dependent on the Lord. I’ve always been someone deeply rooted in my faith in God. I’ve seen Him do amazing things, and have trusted Him in times when my husband and I struggled through deep valleys. But the birth of our daughter has tested my faith in ways I never imagined. Each day I’m forced on my knees, crying out to the Lord for wisdom, patience, peace and selfless love. And each day He rewards me with the smiles of an infant who has taught me more in her few short week so of life, then I have learned in my 35 years on this earth. She’s the best teacher I could ever ask for, and I look forward to many more years of learning as I cling to God’s faithfulness and trust Him for her future.


Anonymous said...

That was beautifully written, Shari. Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad to hear that you're learning and growing so much with Abbie. She's blessed to have you as her mom!

Vanessa said...

Wonderful, Shari. And so true.