Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Thoughts On Becoming a Parent

So, for those of you that have missed the news, Jenn and I are having a baby. 
Here’s our first sonogram (labeled, in case you're not sure if it's an alien or a baby):

 <---- It's a baby.

I digress…

As I consider the implications of becoming a parent I realize that, despite having four younger siblings and knowing about babies relatively well, I know very little about actually being a parent outside of what my own parents have, and haven’t, done. While that is a pretty good start, it still leaves me shaken by the idea of being responsible for a life, a human being.

I think about faith and cultural background (as I listen to the St. Patrick’s Day station on Pandora), family and holidays (not to mention how much travel will change), what life living on a college campus for them will look like, and even down to hoping that they have all their toes (and maybe some extras—that’d be cool). If it’s a girl, do we disregard the princess stereotypes that happen with little girls? (To answer that question, yes… we’re not reinforcing that idea, and if said onesies are bought for her, they will be used as dishcloths, or to dress the garbage in our kitchen.)

Or the opposite (which I may dread even more); how do I show a little boy what it means to be a man, a true man, of God? Ted Smith, a professor at Vanderbilt University, says, “I think we form men in ways that give many men large needs for differentiation, for setting ourselves apart as better-than.” Author Margot Starbuck, goes on to say, in her book, Small Thing With Great Love, “The better-than he’s describing, familiar to many, is anti-Christian. It is contrary to the pattern of self-giving love that God established in Jesus.” And now it’s up to me (and Jenn) to exemplify that self-giving love (whether or not it’s a boy or girl).

Taking away the first few years as a baby and toddler, which I am mostly looking forward to/not too concerned about, it’s when this person becomes their own person that I focus so much of my mind power on. Not out of concern, as maybe I should be having, but out of a fear that I will have failed as a parent in preparing them for the lives that they are being called to.

My continual, humble prayer is that God prepares Jenn and I as parents and, even more so, that this child knows how much her, or his, parents love them, despite mistakes that I know we will make, maybe even because of those mistakes.