Reflections on a Child’s Birthday

My youngest daughter and my oldest son each have a birthday later this month. The day before their birth we didn’t know them, but in one spectacular instant they each became as much a part of our family as my wife and I.
This experience of instant bonds and connections is unique to families. In any company, team, neighborhood or even church organization there is always a period of adjustment where you get to know others and they get to know you before you find your “niche”. Not so with a family. Upon arrival there is instant acceptance and love. What an awesome phenomenon!

Love is an interesting aspect of the human experience. There isn’t only so much to go around, it is created with every new relationship we form. I first learned this on my mission when I began to care so deeply about the people I was interacting with on a daily basis.

The experience became even more powerful as I began dating the woman who would eventually become my wife. I was amazed at the heart’s capacity for love. When my wife and I got married I felt like a new door in my heart was opened. A room I didn’t even know existed was suddenly thrown open for me to explore. I had no idea that so much love could be felt for another person. During the ensuing 15 years I have found that not only is this room always new, it is always growing. Fifteen years from now I will look back on my feelings for her today and say “I didn’t know anything about love back then.”

With each of my children’s arrival this experience has repeated itself. The love I feel for each child is not taken away from anyone else, but a new room in my heart is built for that person and the door is thrown wide open for me to enter.

I am personally grateful for the blessing of love in our lives, especially the love that is found in families. It adds a sweetness and flavor that colors our entire existence.

So, as I celebrate my children’s birthdays this month I will also celebrate the love that each of my family members brings into my life. Life is worth living because of the love that is in it.

3 thoughts on “Reflections on a Child’s Birthday

  1. Paul, I think you make two profound observations here: the first, that we accept new family members quickly, unlike friends and co-workers. You’re right — how does that happen? Second, that we have a growing capacity of love, not a finite capacity. When my first child was born, I loved her so much I thought there could not be any love left. But then my second child was born, and I found new love, and so on. So, clearly we have a much greater capacity for love than we sometimes think.

  2. Dare I mention that when my second son was born, I did not love him instantly? It took a week. I still feel guilty about it, but it was a hormonal thing I think. Post partum depression. There was definitely a period of adjustment there.

  3. Thanks Paul. Lovely post. Love does grow our hearts. I was amazed when Hong Mei was put into my arms I loved her immediately. I worried because she would be this big three year old and not a newborn. Fortunately God put instant intense mother love into my heart, because for the next two weeks she bit, hit and called me names (in Chinese of course).

    Ginger-I think you had a common enough experience. I did not have post partum depression, but with the birth of my oldest child I did not bond with him immediately too. In my case, I think I just did not know how to be a mom and it took a while to learn those emotions. Also we had a traumatic birth and both of us ended up in guarded condition; consequently we were separated for a 24 hour period. I think that had something to do with it too. It took a couple of weeks and one day a thought just popped into my head, “I love you kid”. Basically “ya fake it ’till ya make it”

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