I’ve said in a previous post that one of my favorite things about birthdays is the re-telling of birth-day memories. Well, I don’t have a detailed birth-day story from the day Reid was born. We had only met Daniel and Joy a few weeks prior to Reid’s birth, and we were still in the “acquaintance” category with them. However, I do remember that my neighbor Kelly (the one who introduced us to Daniel and Joy for the first time) called me on the day Reid was born, and as soon as I picked up the phone, she squealed, “We’re aunties!!” Her excitement was infectious, and I squealed back, “We are?!?!?” She gave me Reid’s stats and told me everyone was doing great. I was excited, but I had no idea at that moment how much this newborn baby would come to mean to me…
It was the days, weeks, months, and years that followed that would provide me with countless memories of Reid. (For example, I remember the first time Tim and I babysat for Reid, he was probably 6 weeks old or so, and Daniel and Joy were back from dinner in less than an hour. I remember thinking that was so weird and telling Tim as we were leaving, “I don’t think they trust us.” Ha!)
So, in leiu of having a detailed birth-day story to recount like I did on Annelise’s birthday, in honor of Reid’s fourth birthday, I’d like to share four things I’ve learned from Reid:
1. Children are a blessing.
Our culture tells us things about children that simply aren’t true. We hear that children are an inconvenience. We hear that they are a financial liability. We hear that they are a nuisance. We hear that they are a drain on the earth’s resources. We hear that they are something to have only after we’ve accomplished and done everything else we’ve ever wanted: completed our schooling, gotten our dream job and climbed the ladder as high as we desire, paid off all our debt, gone on our dream vacation or trip around the world, bought our dream house, car, etc. Only after all that should you even THINK about having children.
I’m ashamed to admit that I had bought into that thinking lock, stock and barrel. When I met Daniel and Joy and saw how obviously pregnant Joy was, I thought, “Oh these poor people- saddled with a baby in the middle of school (seminary)- what a bummer.” However, Daniel and Joy’s excitement over Reid and their enthusiastic embrace of parenting was the first thing God used to (painfully) slowly undo that kind of thinking in my head. Daniel and Joy LOVED their son. They never complained about how much time, energy, money or effort he required of them. They never lamented having to “miss out” on concerts or movies or whatever else would be occupying their time if Reid wasn’t around. I was shocked. It got me thinking that having a kid may not be the inconvenience I had always understood it to be.
Scripture is clear that children are a blessing. “Behold, children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is as a reward” (Ps. 127:3). Shamefully, it took a very, very long time for God to convince me of this truth, but I am grateful He used Reid to give me my first glimpse of its veracity.
2. Motherhood is beautiful
I guess this is something I learned from Joy rather than Reid, but since Reid is the one who made Joy a mother, I’m going to keep it in the list. Once again, our culture tells us things about motherhood that aren’t true. We hear that motherhood is a demeaning job, that changing dirty diapers and cleaning up spills is a waste of intellect, schooling, skills, etc. We hear that motherhood is not enough, that it’s OK to be a mom, as long as you have a “real job” as well. We hear that motherhood can only be fulfilling as long as you have an additional project or job or position in which you are contributing to society or the economy as a whole.
Once again, I shamefully admit I had been convinced of the truth of these lies. And once again, God used Reid (and Joy) to begin dismantling these lies from my heart and mind. Joy was (and is) such a wonderful mom. She read so many books and pursued so many other more experienced moms for ideas on how to do this motherhood thing well. She worked hard to learn to care for her new baby well and to care for her home and husband well too. She never complained about having to stay home with the baby, and I never heard her describe herself as “just” as stay-at-home-mom, as if it was something to apologize for. On the contrary, she made motherhood very attractive. It was easy to see the joy and satisfaction she got from caring for Reid and being home with him.
3. If you want to make friends, serve them
This point is not meant to sound like I’m patting myself on the back. It is only by God’s grace that it is true… We babysat for Daniel and Joy. A LOT. For free. I remember thinking, “Oh this poor couple, having a baby a zillion miles away from family and friends, we HAVE to babysit for them!” I just remember thinking I would want someone to do that for me. Again, this is not because Tim and I are so amazing. Instead, I know for sure that God is the One who place that thought in our hearts- left to our own devices, we certainly would not have come up with an idea like that. God gave us the DESIRE to serve this couple. Only He can do that, and I am so grateful He did.
God used the time we babysat Reid to knit our hearts together with Daniel and Joy’s hearts. At first, we were simply babysitters. We’d arrive, receive instructions, watch Reid, give a report when they got home, and leave. And we were happy to do it. However, it soon happened that we started arriving earlier than they had to leave in order to just visit for awhile. Or we would stay after they got home and Reid was in bed to hang out. Conversations ranged from the trivial and silly to serious and spiritual. Over time, God gave us two of the best friends we’ve ever had. I’m sure He could have forged that relationship some other way, but I’m so grateful He did it by placing a desire in our hearts to love Daniel and Joy by serving them.
4. Babies aren’t really all that scary
I know this sounds ridiculous, but until I got to know Reid, I was a little scared of babies. I mean, I thought they were cute, and I liked to hold them- but only if they weren’t crying, fussy, dirty, stinky or anything like that. It seems like I had only known babies who cried a lot and were really discontent and unpredictable. That scared me- thinking that at any moment, they (babies) could “go off,” and I would have no idea what was wrong.
Reid was not like that. Not that he wasn’t a challenging baby- Joy will tell you that he definitely was- but Reid was pretty predictable. I remember being amazed when he would do EXACTLY what Joy would tell me he was going to do. At the time she said he would be hungry, he was, and he would down his whole bottle. At the time she said he would be tired, he was, and he went right to sleep when placed in his bed. I remember calling Daniel while they were in a movie because Reid would not take his bottle, and I had no idea what to do- Daniel told me to put some Orajel on Reid’s gums, and sure enough, no more fussing, and he ate his whole bottle. I was so impressed. Without even being present with him, they knew how to help stop his crying. Until Reid, I had no idea that you could predict and anticipate a baby’s needs and pre-empt crying and fussiness by meeting those needs on a schedule. It started me thinking the baby thing may not be as scary and stressful as I thought it would be.
OK, I know this was supposed to be four things for Reid’s fourth birthday, but I have one more, so how about “and one to grow on”?
5. It’s possible to love other people’s kids as if they were your own
Before I met Reid, I had no idea what it meant to love other people’s kids. I mean, I liked other people’s kids just fine, didn’t mind playing with them or whatever, but I didn’t think I’d really love a kid until I had my own. I was wrong. Reid quickly grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn’t let it go. I loved being with him. I would miss him if I didn’t see him for awhile. Interacting with him gave me so much joy and made me laugh and smile. I delighted in watching him grow and seeing him learn new things. I taught him things that were just for us (like pounding his chest for “peace out”). I got so excited the first time he said my name (“Ee wawa” = “Aunt Sarah”). I thought he was the smartest/cutest/funniest/etc baby I’d ever seen. I’m writing in past tense because I’m thinking of baby Reid, but this is still true to this day. I love Reid so much, more than I ever thought I would or could.