Several weeks ago my husband and I completed our first decade of parenthood. On May 31, 2005 (or thereabouts), our first child was conceived, and our journey into the adventure of parenting began.
Of course, we didn't really see it as an adventure. Or even much of a challenge. My idea of parenthood, at the time, was "Hey, you have a kid or two, they pretty much raise themselves and behave well because you want them to, and then they leave the house and you get on with your real life."
Naïve, much? Shallow, much? Yes.
I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. It has flown. And it has been the most challenging venture of my life.
And I cannot believe how much I have changed and grown over these ten years. In beliefs, in theology and worldview, in lifestyle and practice. My ten-years-ago self would probably be horrified if she could see me now, and I am likewise horrified when I look back at my former self.
I cannot believe that - way back then - I thought that abortion was sometimes justified. I cannot believe that I thought that militant use of birth control was the duty of every responsible couple. I cannot believe that I saw children with special needs as more of a burden than a blessing.
Dear Lord, forgive me.
My ideas and philosophies about parenting have also changed - greatly. I have learned how difficult parenting is, and I have learned to give grace to others who, like myself, find themselves struggling to do a good job in this most important of jobs. I have also gained a whole new respect for my own parents. When I was in my early twenties, I sometimes viewed their parenting of me with more criticism than grace, seeing all of their mistakes. Now that I've tried my own hand at it (and fallen on my face numerous times), I am astounded at how well they handled parenting me. Bravo, Mom and Dad!
On a lighter note, my ideas on family size have also changed. Here is how I viewed family size a decade ago:
1 child = Normal family size, as much as anyone needs.
2 children = Ridiculously large family. Did you really need that many?
3 or more children = Hopelessly over the brink of insanity. These people need help.
Here is how I now view family size:
1-5 children = Small family
6-8 children = Medium family
9-12 children = A bit bigger than medium
13 or more children = Larger family
Boy, has my worldview changed.
However, seeing how much I've changed in a decade helps me to give grace to others. I realize that I once held views that I now see as absolutely repugnant and abhorrent - and I realize that others need grace as they grow and mature. We are all at different stages, and as the Lord wills, we are all maturing.
I am constantly looking for cool math-y patterns in life, so here are some other fun numbers and stats from my life:
* I am about to turn 34 years old - the definition (right?) of middle-aged. This means that any child the Lord gives us after I reach 34 years, 3 months of age will label me as an "elderly multip." Wow, old age hit me early! (In the obstetrical world, any mother age 35 and older is labeled as "elderly.")
Also, if the Lord blesses us with another baby, I will - at long last! - gain that coveted status of grand multipara - by United States terms, at least. (The definition varies by country.) Fun!
* Our eldest child is about to turn nine years old. This means, by legal standards, that we are half-way done with parenting him through childhood. Have we done a good job? How will he turn out? While I depend on the grace of God for the future of our children, those questions are still enough to leave me nervously biting my nails.
* I have spent 38 months pregnant, or a little over three years.
* When you combine pregnancy nausea and postpartum nausea, I have spent eight years of my life nauseated. That's a little less than a quarter of my life with some level of nausea. Wow, that's a lot.
* I have just passed the 100-month mark with breastfeeding (102 months, to be specific). That's pretty neat!
* For two months this fall, we will have children whose ages are perfect multiples of three - 9, 6, 3, 0. Isn't that fun? Whether it will ever happen again depends on the spacing of our next child (if, indeed, the Lord ever gives us another child).
Here's to our first decade of parenthood, looking forward to the second!
God is good.