It is incredibly amazing to me how my life has changed since bringing our daughter into the world. I realize this isn’t new to all the parents out there, but let me take you back to the beginning of your journey as parents and for those of you who have yet to join this unique club, let me tell you it is the ride of your life – and this is coming from someone who is just getting started.
First, let me say that describing the love of a child is impossible because it is something that resonates in your very core. When I just think upon my daughter and her little face – I know it well from studying it and staring at it avidly most of the day – it fills my whole body and soul with a pure, unending love. It is different from the love I have for anyone else in my life. There are people I love so dearly that it hurts sometimes when I think about them. However, my love for them is an active, daily decision that I learned, and it continues to grow and deepen with every day, but I must work at this kind of love. I don’t have to work at loving my baby girl – the love just exists.
I will be honest with you, though. I do not have that amazing birth story about how incredible I felt as I held my baby girl for the first time. I truly felt very little other than pure amazement that she was actually here. I don’t think it even dawned on me that I was going to meet the little being that had lived inside of me for nine months until the last moments of labor when they were shouting at me “She’s almost here!” I had this thought pass through my head, I remember looking at my husband too, and thinking “Oh! We’re about to meet her.” Just like that, the thought flitted through my brain and when they placed her on my chest all I could think was, “She doesn’t look like me. Is this really what my daughter looks like?” And, “She sure has a hairy back, poor thing, gets that from her father.” Seriously, these are the thoughts that went through my head.
While I was very excited, I also think that the weight of the emotions, preparation, and (oh yeah) a baby in me for the last 9 months and 12 hours of labor had exhausted everything; leaving me devoid of excitement and just plain exhausted. As family members came in to hold her, I was just kind of floating mentally between time and space.
I have to say that during those first moments what I felt was more of an instinctual love of my daughter. I wanted to protect her, keep her safe and do whatever needed to be done – my radar only focused on her, but as the days grew into weeks and now the weeks into months, it is incredible that my heart has been able to grow so big. I did not realize how little it had been previously. Nor had I realized how selfish I was. I don’t mean this in a negative way to all those without children; I mean it to describe how much of my ‘self’ I have had to leave behind in order to make room for this little being and all the love that it necessary to provide for her physical and emotional needs.
Previously, I posted about how my love for my daughter has revealed God’s love for me. It has also revealed how much he gave for me on the cross and how truly unselfish our Lord has been with me throughout my life. He has given me all the necessities I need to survive and thrive, and he has watched me patiently stumble through life and gently and patiently picks me up and waits for me to go the right way.
I never knew how much having a child would erase “myself” and smooth out my rough spots – believe me it will take too many children to smooth it all away – and the funny part is that this is exactly what I was afraid of when I was pregnant – losing “me.” Isn’t that what our postmodern society is always yelling at us from the pages of every magazine and TV ad? – preserve the almighty self. What I have come to find is that losing sight of yourself by giving yourself completely to another, that is true love. Finally, the true task of life makes sense – Mother Teresa put is best, “True love is surrender. The more we love the more we surrender. If we really love souls we must be ready to take their place.”