Kids. Do you have them? If you don't, I highly suggest grabbing a couple.
I didn't want children, but I recognized the gleam in my wife's eye when she brought the topic up, some fourteen years ago. The unmistakable twinkle that said, “resistance is futile.” And, it was. I realized that there was no chance she would ever let this one go, and so a pact was made that day. I agreed to let her have children, and she agreed to raise them. There would be no changing of diapers for this guy! No sir. If she wanted kids, she would have to deal with all that junk.
Within the first week I had already changed ten dirty diapers and there was no end in sight! This kid was a factory. I've never seen anything eat so little and go so much. Anyway. I digress.
I didn't want children. I liked my freedom. I liked being the biggest child in the house-- although my wife would contend that I still am. I had plans for my life, and they didn't include: a filthy house, filthy diapers, constant screaming, ketchup on my new pants, and eventually car pooling. Do you know that I have held in my hands every gross thing that can come out of a human body? I have my children to thank for that! I was dooped! Bamboozled!! This was not the deal we had made that fateful day! She was going to take care of the baths, and the crying, and the chocolate in my dress shoes. We had a deal!
Besides the constant work, there is also the emotional trauma. Like the time we were in the drug store and my daughter tugged on my sleeve, pointed at the woman in front of us, and said, “Daddy, that lady is fat.” At this point, I had already survived years of being a father, and do to rigorous conditioning, I was able to think on my feet. I crouched down and said, “Honey, if you don't have something nice to say about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all.” My daughter silently pondered the words of her father, and the snickers from the eight customers loitering the cramped reception area slowly subsided. Roughly three minutes of awkward silence past, and there was another tug on my sleeve. My daughter looked up at me with her big innocent eyes and whispered-- what could only have been the resolution of the last three minutes of heavy contemplation-- “Daddy, that fat lady has nice shoes.”
As I look back on the last fourteen years of torture and reminisce about how I held down a full time job, a part time job, and pursued the dream of being an author, while serving my wife, my family, my church, and these crazy people my wife gave birth too, I have to ask myself a question: was it worth it? My answer would have to be a resounding, you betcha!
Raising kids is hard. Heck! Life in general is hard! But I would not be the man I am today, if not for my children. And I would not know the true depths of love, if it were not for them. They are my passion. They are my very heart.
When my son was born he would not stop crying unless his daddy held him. The first night home from the hospital we tried putting him in his crib several times, but he wasn't going to have any of that. He wanted to be with daddy, and there was no reasoning with him. If anyone in the entire apartment building was going to get some sleep, I was going to have to hold him through the night. I cradled him in my arms and sat on the couch with half a dozen pillows tucked in around us-- and that's where we stayed-- all night.
From the very first night God was telling me something. This is going to be hard. This is going to be uncomfortable. And, yes, your arms are going to fall asleep, and it hurts-- a lot. But, you're holding something precious in your hands. You're holding a human life. And this wrinkly little boy love you more than anything else in this world. He needs you, and only you, to be his dad. It is a great responsibility, and I'm giving this responsibility to you.
And now, fourteen years later, all I can say is. Thank you, God. Thank you for my children.
John Michael Hileman