Monday, October 10, 2011

Father of Three

It's been about two and a half weeks since my daughter was born. We are doing our best to adjust to the new "normal" around our house. Every morning as I sleepily rise from my bed, I wonder why I am so tired. Then I remind myself that although my wife does the feeding, it usually wakes me up throughout the night.

It's funny though, just as people had told us, girls are so much different than boys. In fact, I had just told someone the other day that if we had a girl first and then had our boys, we might just have had one. Not sure that we would have been prepared for what was to come if we had a girl first.

I remember when my oldest son was born. We were living so far from family. Although we had a lot of people within our church that acted as family, it's just not the same. I think that was more readily apparent with my wife, although she really didn't make a big deal about it. Her mom flew down within a day of the baby being born.

But there was a connectedness among our family, just the three of us, that bound us together. I remember how proud I was to hold my son. I remember how my wife and I cried and held each other as we stared at our little bundle under the bili lights that he needed to stay under to help his jaundice. The world was new and surreal all at the same time. Everything that we encountered was a new experience that was met with part fear and part excitement.

When my second son was born, we had been living in Virginia for almost a year. There was more hesitation in me than I cared to admit, at least outwardly. We chose not to find out whether the baby would be a boy or a girl and so on delivery day, it was again a surprise to us. I held my new son with the awkwardness that a middle school boy holds his date at the first dance. I just wasn't sure what I was going to do with this baby.

I knew how to change him and hand him to my wife to be fed, but deep down inside, I wasn't sure that I could handle it. I remember thinking how much I loved my oldest son. I wasn't sure that there was room in my heart to love this one the same way, and frankly, I think that I was a little scared. I didn't know that I would be able to spread myself over these two incredible little boys. Would I be able to love them equally?

In the first months after he was born, I remember him crying a lot when I would hold him. I would immediately tell my wife that it was just proof that he really didn't like me. I was really trying to justify my own feelings inside. But somewhere, sometime, something happened and it all changed.

I can't remember when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I fell in love with that little boy. Maybe it was because I was praying so hard. Maybe it was that my heart grew three sizes that day, like the Grinch. Whatever the reason, I know that the result was that I loved both of my boys the same. Yes, they are different, but the love that I have for them is incomparable.

Needless to say, with all this trouble over #2, I was beginning to wonder what my reaction might be to #3. Throughout the entire pregnancy, I kept asking myself whether I was crazy. If I wasn't sure that I had room in my heart for 2, how could I even think that I had room in my heart for 3?

But the pregnancy was a time of distraction for me. At the same time that a new life was growing within my wife, my mom was reaching the end of her life. Having gone through pregnancies twice before and waiting until delivery day to find out whether it was a boy or a girl, we decided to find out this time. I kept telling people that I was getting too old for surprises.

I think deep down inside I knew that it was a girl. With everything going on with Mom, I should have figured that it would be. Although we were still shocked when the news ultrasound technician told us that it was a girl, deep down inside, we both probably felt like that was a sign to us that Mom would not be around long.

Like I said, I was distracted during the pregnancy. I was trying to come to grips with the fact that my mom would not be around for a long time. I really didn't take a lot of time trying to figure out how I would find enough love in my heart for a third child. But God knew what he was that's a surprise. The anxiety that I had going from 1 to 2 wasn't really there when I went from 2 to 3.

Now, we're trying to find our groove. We are a family of 5. Somehow, there was enough love in my heart for all 3 of my kids. I'm not going to push my luck and see what happens with 4 though. But every night, when everybody's sleeping, as I lean over my kids, kiss them, and pray for them, I think about the love that God has for us. His children number way more than 3 and his heart is big enough for all of us.

I am blessed. Sometimes I wonder what I've done to deserve all that I have when others struggle to make it to the end of the day. I do my best not to forget that and to thank God every moment that I am reminded of it. Sure, I have faced difficulties in life, but so has everyone. I do believe that much of what we face is a result of living in a fallen world. Paul's words to the church in Rome in Romans 8 have helped me tremendously. I am thankful and I am grateful.

When I kiss my kids, I rub noses with them too. It was one of the last things that I experienced with Mom. The night she came home from the hospital, we sat on the couch and I told her some things that I really needed to tell her. I told her I loved her, she opened her eyes, and we rubbed noses together. Since then, every time that I do it with my kids, I am reminded of Mom. My daughter has my mom's name as one of her middle names, but I know, there's a part of Mom in all of them. Just knowing that helps me to know for sure that there's enough love in my heart for all 3 of them.

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