Summary: A Child’s Birth Changes Things
(Slide 1) Do you remember the day or days that your children were born? I remember both of those days very well. I would like to think (although I am not sure that a case could be made for it) that Jonathon and Daniel were already acting like preacher’s kids as Jonathon was born on a Sunday afternoon and Daniel was born on a Wednesday night (and almost Thursday morning).
As some of you know, we had been married for 10 years before we started trying to have kids and in the course of that decision, we found out that I needed infertility surgery. And, praise God, it worked!
I was 37 when Jonathon was born, 39, and pushing 40 when Daniel was born. I recall that it took me about a week when we first knew that Susan was pregnant with Jonathon to get used to the idea of having children and that there were many changes to my life and in my life that would occur because of his birth. Their births changed my world and Susan’s world in many amazing and challenging ways. Children are so much fun to have around and they keep us hopping, no matter how old they are!
I have no doubt that every mother here can recall the birth of their children and some of us dads can recall those moments as well when we realized from the first moment of birth how different our children already were at that point.
Children change our lives don’t they? The birth of a child is a major event in a person’s life. Life is never the same when children arrive. It’s not supposed to be the same and a recent column by Kathleen Parker makes that clear.
Perhaps you read her column in the paper a week ago. It was entitled ‘Survival of the Stupidest,’ and she opened with the story of an Englishwoman and an environmentalist named Toni Vernelli.
Parker quotes from an interview featured in London’s Daily Mail newspaper that noted Vernelli, ‘had herself sterilized. Baby-making, she says, is "selfish" and "all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet." In other words, not having children is more environmentally friendly than having kids.
After expressing shock at the environmental self-centeredness of Vernilli and others, Parker goes on to say, ‘Raising children is quantifiably the most persistently unselfish act known to mankind, as millions of veterans of sleepless nights will attest. Parenthood is when "I" takes a backseat to "thou" -- when the infant-self submits to adulthood so that the real infant gets a necessary turn at the well of self-importance.’
We may be shocked and angry at this perspective of kids, but we need to remember Herod’s desire to get rid of Jesus because he was a political inconvenience. A child’s birth does change things. But how do they change things?
(Slide 2) A child’s birth changes three things: our focus, our priorities, and our goals.
Having kids changes our focus because, as Parker put it, the ‘I’ takes a backseat to ‘thou.’ Before there were children, we pretty much could come and go as we please. Once we entered adulthood and the workplace, many of us did not have to worry about all things that we noticed parents worrying about.
We did not have to worry about the noisy and upset child in aisle 5 who wanted ‘Cap’n Crunch’ instead of ‘Cheerios.’ We did not have to worry about leaving the party early because the baby sitter meter was running. We did not have to worry about penciling in five different events on our calendars all going on at the same time. (And wondering how we would get everyone to their assigned destinations.)
However, our shifting focus has also given us the ability to see things in some wonderful ways. For example, Brenda Roberts of Georgia shared the feedback from a group of pre-schoolers regarding the birth of Christ.
‘I was reading the story of Jesus’ birth to [them] one morning,’ she wrote. As usual, I stopped to see if they understood.
"What do we call the three wise men?" I asked. "The three maggots," replied a bright 5-year-old. "What gift did the MAGI bring baby Jesus?" I corrected. "Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!" the same 5-year-old replied.’
Eventually children give their parents a great gift: Grandchildren! I have always been amused with the bumper sticker that says something like, ‘If would have known how wonderful my grandchildren would be, I would have had them first!’
Author Erica Jong recently wrote in the AARP magazine of the difference having a grandson makes as compared to have raised all daughters. The exuberance of his search, his attention to ‘creepy and crawly’ things, his ways of playing, all have given Jong some positive pause for reflection in having this little boy as part of her family and life.