Monday 14 March 2011

Becoming a family

It's something that happens to so many people everyday: the transition from being a married couple to becoming parents.

When you choose to get married, there is a whole process of discussing the idea with your prospective partner and meeting the family and going through the emotional and mental process of what it means to be married. The marriage preparation course done by our pastor, Revd Howard Thornton, was amazing and set us up for, what has been a wonderful 5.75 years of wedded bliss.

But, when you have children, it's very different. First of all, the conception is rarely a plan-able event. Many couples try for years to get pregnant, whilst for others it comes sooner than anticipated. Then, once you're on your way, the 12-weeks scan has been done and you're mentally preparing yourself for the arrival of your first baby, the focus is no longer on what it is to become parents and more on the process of having a baby. These two are very different. All the appointments, discussions with medical professionals and others work on the process that Becky's body would be going through at each stage of pregnancy. Then, as the third trimester approaches, it's all about labour and what that will entail. Different methods of giving birth, what to expect, how to know what stage you're at. Then comes the actual event: the birth. An amazing unique experience that in the whole thing, you cannot deny the Creator God in the whole process. Each birth is a miracle, without a doubt.

But in all of this, nobody is really talking about, or preparing you for the transition between being a married couple and becoming parents. The body shock of sleepless nights, as you're cradling your little one at 3am, after he's woken up for the 4th time that night, screaming, you begin to ask yourself: what have I become?

Becoming a parent is a massive shift in any person's life. Yet it so often comes about without any emotional preparation for the status change. All focus is on the birth, and little-to-none is on the actual movement from couple to parent. We know that we have a new responsibility, but it's more than that. My whole thought pattern has changed and developed to have a consciousness of what I am doing, not in light of me, but in light of my family. This is a huge thing for me and has probably caused me more mental exhaustion than any crying at 3am Joshua could do!

Little Joshua is gorgeous. But he didn't come with an instruction book. He has a strong personality and a healthy appetite. There are hours on end when I can't stop staring at him and wondering how Becky and I managed it! The awe that you have as you hold him and look up to God and ask: can I really be responsible for taking care of such a precious gift?


Angela said...

Congratulations on the safe arrival of your beautiful son. I wish you joy, happiness and most of all 4 hours of unbroken sleep ( from personal experience this is the minimum amount I reckon leaves you feeling human again!) Remember to take care of yourselves as well as Joshua - the first eighteen years are the hardest! love and light to you all.

Ulrike said...

I agree. No-one can really prepare you for parenthood, even if you were to do a degree in it before you had children - for me it all boils down to practice, experience and above all relationship with your baby.
For me, despite all the frustration, the exhaustion, the pain of love, it is also a fantastic adventure. There is also so much joy and wonder in it.
For me, it gave (gives!) God's love, the way he deals with me, the way he sees me, his desires for my life a whole new and very inspiring perspective. My kids have inadvertently taught me so much about God I never learnt through sermons!