Since becoming a parent I have often heard that it gets easier after the third month. I imagine that is not only due to the learning curve but also because you start settling into a routine with the new little human that has been welcomed into your home. I guess I can let you know next month if I have found this to be true for us. As for the last month though, it has been filled with its own adventures and lessons. Here is some of what I have learned:
- Leverage Gospel Opportunities – Having a kid makes all kinds of people stop and say things to you when under normal circumstances they wouldn’t give you a second look. From meeting neighbors while out on a walk or interacting with strangers while out to dinner, I have met and talked with numerous people since becoming a parent. In one of these early incidents I realized that these were golden opportunities to be a witness for the sake of the Gospel. Whether it’s responding to a compliment on our baby’s appearance with an acknowledgement that it was God and not us who deserves the praise, or the initial exchange of trying to get my kid to smile leads to a deeper conversation, I need to be mindful of how God may be using me in the lives of these people I do not know. I need to be poised with responses that bring Him glory and that hopefully prompt others to seek Him as well.
- Consistency (and flexibility) are key – You could probably divide parents up into two groups – those who like a schedule and those who adore spontaneity. Over this last month, I’ve learned that both are critical. Like most people, babies do better when they know what to expect so as much as you can being consistent with things like schedules and routines helps them to make sense of this world that they were abruptly thrown into. However, babies don’t keep a Google calendar and at any moment they can throw your carefully orchestrated routine a curveball. It’s important to be adaptable to these changes. Not only will it probably make for a more enjoyable home life for both you and your infant, you are teaching them a valuable skill for their future. After all, being content in all circumstances (Phil. 4:11) includes those times when naps are interrupted, sleep is nonexistent and you just can’t figure out why your kid is upset.
- It takes two, baby – When a child is really young, it may be tempting to think that all the need is their mom. Mothers are often the ones that feed them, that change them, that comfort them and that help them to sleep. However, there is a reason that when God established a family He did so with a mom and a dad (Gen. 2:24). I have been frequently reminded over the past month that this parenting gig would be so much harder without the love, support and help of my spouse. HIs presence is not only important for my kid but his presence helps me be a better parent. Without him, this journey would be very difficult.
- It won’t be like this for long – There are days that seem like they won’t end. Around every corner there is a new challenge. However, in just the first three months our little one has undergone so many changes as she learns to adapt to the world around her. The sleepless nights won’t always be there, and neither will her reliance on me. The things that “I can’t wait to be over” may very well be the things I look back on and remember fondly. Things are going to change and it’s good to remember that – in the tough times as well as the good ones.
- Babies Don’t Read Clocks or Calendars – I’ve always been fairly ambivalent about daylight savings time – I didn’t necessarily enjoy it but it wasn’t anything to get to worked up over either. That was until I had a kid. Losing an hour of sleep is rough on many adults; it’s even more difficult when you can’t tell time and don’t know that you’re supposed to adjust your sleeping patterns. Similarly, my young one has no idea when we have a busy day scheduled so she has no way of knowing that the night before is not the time to want to spend all night with Mom at her crib side. Changing my expectations regarding how my little one will respond to the things of which she is totally unaware, will probably put a lot less stress on me, and her.
In the midst of all the challenges and changes it can be difficult to remember what a blessing each day with my little one is. As Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” I’m so grateful that God has awarded me the good gift of my child. I look forward to many more lessons that He will teach me as her parent.