Her due date coincided with a midterm exam in my most difficult class of the semester. The professor had been somewhat reluctant to let me possibly take the exam at a different time in the event our daughter decided to come on that day, September 20. “Do you really need to be there for that?” she had asked incredulously. I paused for a moment to formulate a reasonable response. “Well probably,” I think I said. “So far I’ve really liked being married and I’d kind of like to stay married.”
Despite my anxiety over Professor Maleficent, and despite my wife’s growing discomfort, we were both looking forward to our little girl’s arrival. Mixed in with the excitement was a little nervousness about adding a second child when our first was just a month shy of his two-year birthday – especially as I had just begun the most challenging year of my graduate program. To complicate matters, my church service responsibilities required getting up early to teach a group of 20 teenagers about the New Testament, which took place Monday through Friday, each week and each month, throughout the school year.
Thankfully, our baby came a week after the due date, thus averting a showdown with Professor Loki, although whether my wife was as thankful for the delay as I was is a different story. The rest of the year was admittedly challenging. But now that the pace of life has slowed a bit and there are a fewer responsibilities on our plate, we’ve increasingly gotten into the rhythm being a family of four.
But with the perspective that comes with time, I reflected back on the last year the other night as I put our little girl to bed. After she fell asleep in my arms, I sat there making some assessments about the different aspects of my life since she was born:
- In the last year, has the amount of love and affection in my heart increased, or decreased? Increased, I realized, definitely increased.
- In the last year, have I slept more or less than the year before? Easy. Much less.
- In the last year, has my capacity to efficiently handle different priorities and responsibilities increased or decreased? I think probably increased – still working on it, of course and imagine I always will be.
- In the last year, have I exercised more or less than the year before? Less, unfortunately. Probably should be the one thing I don’t let slip during busy or challenging times.
- In the last year, has my family grown closer together or farther apart? Closer. In fact, I thought of the joy I feel as I watch our two kids play and interact with one another. And their relationship has grown over time. Soon after we brought our daughter home from the hospital, I was slightly worried about our son’s reaction to this new baby in our family and how he would handle the change. But one night when the house was quiet and the kids were in bed I had a deep sense that despite his young age, he has a great, latent love for his sister and that his love and affection for her is older than either of them. It was a flash of truth that gave me, as their father, the perspective necessary to help encourage and rekindle that affection. Now we’re seeing that love and relationship expand as they both grow up.
Overall, despite the lack of sleep and the slowdown in my exercise routine, and even despite the overall craziness during the last year, I’m very thankful for this little girl in our lives. She has won me over each day since she was born. The father-daughter relationship, I have found, is unique from the father-son relationship. Both are wonderful in their own way and for their own reasons and I love them both. Nothing quite compares with being a parent.
All of this has made me realize that the decision to have kids has been among the best decisions I’ve made in my life – only preceded, perhaps, by the decision to be physically present at their births, which as it turns out, helped me stay happily married…despite the best efforts of Professor Palpatine.