The “Oh S***” Phase

I can’t believe I’ve reached my third trimester. I still can’t get my mind around the idea of having a baby in three months! I’m finally getting close enough to my due date that I’m no longer feeling so impatient, but getting to that “oh shit” phase, wondering how I’ll ever accomplish everything on my to-do list and prepare for parenthood (??!!) before then. Don’t let the title fool you; I’m increasingly excited as well. But there’s the standard tasks like painting the baby room and choosing a name (a seemingly impossible job). And I’d like to read more about baby care, breastfeeding, and parenting in general.

Seemingly less urgent but equally (or more) important are matters like having my character refined, strengthening my relationships, and contemplating parenting on a broad scale. In the character department, I would like to become less negative and more grateful and encouraging. Post-partum depression looms around the corner: will it strike? My melancholic nature lends itself well to depression, opening the door wide in invitation, although my mental orifices have been closed to infiltration for the past few years. But PPD is no doubt an equal opportunity invader, so I feel the need to be well-grounded in thankfulness and the realistic expectations that come with it. But how can be I realistic when I’m not sure what to expect, despite the famous book series’ best efforts? I expect it to be hard, but, much like the pain of childbirth, expecting something and dealing with it for the first time can be vastly different exercises. I hope to be so overjoyed with my little one that the pain, fatigue, and massive life change will feel worth it, though not easy. But if I’m not grateful now, I have little hope of joy buoying through such a stormy time.

Regarding my relationships, I feel a need, even a pressure, to make the most of my time with people now. Of course I want to have a strong marriage and friendships going into a major life change. Not that I won’t see people or continue to invest in them, but things are so much easier now. A spontaneous meeting, an uninterrupted conversation, long hours of talk and Bible study—all are possible for a limited time only. With a few friends, my goal is to have some good, thought-provoking spiritual conversations. Also, I want to provide the high school girls I’m working with some tools for being useful and substantial. I would love to see them make some progress before then, which means I need to make some progress in loving and equipping them. I’m praying that I can love them really deeply and fervently, from the heart. Sometimes being nine years older makes it tempting to view them more as projects than people, but I know the moment I fall into this, my chances of helping them evaporate. God will not let me into their hearts in order to motivate them if I’m working out of self-serving, superior, or functional attitudes. My greatest desire is for them to love others with zeal. Certainly I can’t expect or even hope for this if can’t model and provide at least a glimpse of such love for them.

That brings me to the big picture of parenting, the question of “What do I want my kids to become? Who do I want them to be in twenty years?” The answer is too big for me to fully comprehend, but I know I want them to love and serve the Lord first of all. And that means loving and serving other people: “And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Manners, “good behavior,” grades and other accomplishments must be secondary, or not even make the list. But I have no doubt I’ll mix up parenting priorities often. Then there’s the question of how to get there, and that’s really a stumper.

On a lighter note, I totally understand why parents always think their kids are cute, no matter what. I can’t even see my kid yet, but sometimes when I feel him moving around I immediately think, “He’s so cute!” I can’t see him, he’s kicking me in the bladder, and I think he’s cute! Completely irrational, but so is having kids, and so is love.

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