If you talk to experienced parents the one thing that they all seem to agree upon is that the days move quickly. “Enjoy this time, it will be gone before you know it” is a common refrain. Although our little one is not very old, I can already see the truth of these words. Children develop and change at such a rapid pace – and although some days are long, the culmination of weeks seem to pass before you know it. As quickly as one month begins, it can seem like it is also coming to an end.
Because of the tendency for time to seemingly slip by before you can capture it, I wanted to take a few moments and articulate the lessons that I have learned in this first month since our little one’s arrival. The lessons here aren’t about the mechanics of parenting – insights on sleeping patterns or the best way to swaddle a baby. Instead, even at this young age, I’ve recognized that the habits I form now can have a impact on our daughter for years to come. It’s these lessons that I want to share.
1) It is never too early to pray for your child’s salvation, for their spouse, or for their salvation of their spouse. Because I’m up at random hours of the night, I have the opportunity to do a lot of thinking and a lot of praying. We have been praying that our little one would be great in God’s kingdom even before she arrived, but after her arrival it was impressed upon my heart that she would likely one day marry and that this person would have a profound impact on her life. Even though I can easily count the number of days she has been on this Earth, I’m already petitioning God on her behalf and asking that He would protect and penetrate the heart of the man she will some day wed.
2) Use your time wisely. While this isn’t a new lesson, I’m applying it in new ways. My opportunities to do a bunch of things is limited by my responsibility to care for my little one, but that doesn’t mean my opportunities to use my time wisely are also limited. Because I’m at home a lot more it can be tempting to be undisciplined and focus only on her immediate needs. However, caring for her doesn’t mean that I can’t do other things as well. Already, my daughter has “heard” sermons as I listen to them while she nurses. Middle of the night wake-up calls are also calls to pray. I definitely have room to grow in this area, but simply recognizing that I need to be intentional about how I use the moments of the day has been an important lesson.
3) Cherish the moments. In the midst of all the transitions that the first month holds, it can be hard to really take stock of the blessings that have been showered upon your life due to the addition to your family. Just keeping things moving in a positive direction can seem to consume your energy. However, taking the time to notice your child’s smile or how their personality shines through even at this stage is important. Doing so reminds you of the gift that you have been given. Sometimes parents only recognize this in retrospect. Cherishing the moments as they happen not only prompts thankfulness but it helps you navigate the busyness with a greater grace.
4) Live in anticipation of their emancipation. This is a phrase that I learned from the pastor at my church. The goal is that children are only with you for a time. Eventually, the hope is that they will become adults, live independently and establish their own families. Your commitment to your spouse, however, is for a lifetime. Don’t become so wrapped up in your child’s life that you neglect the more important relationship – the one that will last even when your child is no longer at home.
5) Helping hands are hands of blessing. It can be hard to accept help from others – especially if you are used to being the one to take care of details and are thought of as “having it all together.” However, the people who say to you “tell me what I can do to help” and really mean it, those who are willing to run errands, clean kitchens or prepare a meal, are such a blessing. Taking their help is humbling; giving such help is a blessing.
These five lessons are just some of the things that I have learned in this first month. I imagine that I will learn many more in the months ahead. I hope that as I do so God will graciously allow me to reflect Him as I become the type of mom that He desires me to be.