It was a cold winter’s day and I had been up all night talking to the nurse. Panting in pain, my wife angrily cursed my existence as we drove in the pre-rush hour Boston traffic. Amazingly, we made it to the hospital without incident, and, after 25 hours in the delivery room, Owen was born. A year later, he has taught me far more than I’ve ever taught him.
The transition from teen to adult is rough, especially during the college years. Everything seems to be contradictory; from trying to cement into a profession to scrambling to finish that last homework assignment, there hardly seems to be any breathing room for actually living. One would think that a baby complicates that picture, and, in many ways, it does. But every night when I put my child to sleep, rocking him in my arms and singing gently to him, it gives me time to settle my breathing, meditate, and live in the moment.
That’s the first thing Owen has taught me: patience. Know when to look and plan for the future and know when to drop everything and attend to the now, and how to find enjoyment in each moment. Even if my little sack-of-rice leaves me with an aching back, it’s nothing compared to the weight taken off my shoulders and the lightness in my heart.
As we grow older, we lose a lot that we may not realize. Children run around screaming with boundless energy and find interest in the most mundane of things. The other day, Owen picked up a remote control and began gleefully pushing its buttons. Usually, I would’ve thought nothing of it, but I realized that a child provides a gentle reminder of something that most adults gradually lose: curiosity.
The joy that children find in the smallest things naturally awakens the dormant curiosity in our hearts as well. They teach us that, instead of being wise to the world, we are really ignorant— and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The best way to learn is through teaching, and, as I teach my child, I learn more about myself and rediscover the world around us. I learn how to make him happy and how he makes me happy too.
Nowadays, parenthood is not as sought after in our society. Busy lifestyles and the pursuit of personal pleasure have slowly eroded the interest in child rearing. It has been presented as a liability and enslavement to responsibility. Obviously, parenting is a lot of work. Many are filled with regret and unfulfilled ambition, but, like most things in life, parenting is what you make of it.
The truth is that parenting is empowering. As someone who has struggled with depression, I know as well as anyone how hard it is to find joy in your life. A child is the ultimate bringer of true joy; there is nothing that makes me happier than walking into daycare to pick up Owen and him reaching out to me with the biggest smile on his chubby face. In turn, this gives me the drive to be a better father to him.
Our children remind us that happiness is best sought out through selflessly serving others, and that real, tangible happiness is something you must truly work for. People who live for themselves are doomed to loneliness. Those who live for others are never truly alone. Every parent knows that the happiness their own children bring them is indescribable, but I think an apt description of this feeling is that of being completed.
The most important thing my child has been to me is an avenue to bring me closer to God. I am not a religious person and have scorned it for a long time. However, holding my little sack-of-rice in my arms, I know it is no coincidence that he was given to me. From the moment of conception, he was destined to be a unique life, just as all children are. The fact that nature could find a way to make this possible is sheer evidence of a higher power. The fight for each life is worthwhile and just, and each ‘bundle of cells’ is also a unique bundle of happiness.
As parents, we are given a charge: to raise our offspring to the best of our abilities and to equip them with the necessary tools to make the world a better place.
Little do we know that we are also given plenty of lessons along the way. How to be patient with ourselves, how to be curious and learn, how to live for and serve others, and most importantly, how to be truly happy.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.