In all we do there is an underlying current off rhythm that seems to perpetuate us into the next phase of life. When we are young; the silent force drives us toward love, commitment and the fulfillment of a relationship to sustain us through life. Once that is achieved most people begin to be motivated with a stir of emotions and buried desires that involve starting a family of our own. The reasons are different for everyone. Some people want a positive and influential way to continue their heritage while others feel it quote simply just the next thing they are supposed to do. Others want to right all the wrongs from their own childhood by bearing children of their own and still others want to seal the deal on their relationship by involving the blood ties that will bind us to another person for the rest of our life. Many do it for love and others do it unwittingly and accidentally perpetuated by an unexplainable destiny of sorts. No matter what the reason, starting a family doesn’t just begin a new chapter in life; it is preface for a new book altogether!
Few people recognize through conception and pregnancy the immense commitment to life that lies ahead. This is one of those areas where ignorance is bliss! If we were truly aware of all the struggles, heartaches, joys and worry that the road ahead with a family of our own will bring us; far fewer would be willing to take the leap into parenthood. Starting a family redefines terms like responsibility, love, happiness, worry and what it means to be committed and devoted to someone other than ourselves. All the love we have known before doesn’t come close to the way we feel about our children once they are born and the gentle understanding of forgiveness; respect and acceptance are born into our hearts almost as soon as we cut the cord. When you look into your child’s eyes so innocent and swollen from birth there is a silent agreement that means no matter what this person does, is or becomes they will be loved forever, unconditionally and will be always be forgiven for their mistakes.
Starting a family changes the entire flow of life. Suddenly things like spur of the moment trips, eating out every night, sleeping in on the weekends, partying with friends and living life flying by the seat of your untied pants disappears. Mothers and fathers are born from men and women who have spent all their years before taking care of their needs, wants and desires without having to think much about anything else. Sure, we have compromised before and given up things we wanted in the interest of others but we have never truly had to. Once the family comes life as you knew it before is over. Fortunately, this isn’t all a bad thing. Every once in a while cleaning puke from the sheets, changing diapers and midnight feedings can fill any person with resentment and anger; mediating arguments and spending all your time affording, feeding and tending to kids can lead to boredom and having a house filled with primary colored toys can ruin the decor but few other things can leave the heart with so much more room to love. And every parent who steps on a sharp wooden block with bare feet while making their way to the kitchen for the 4th time since midnight knows that suddenly their life matters more than it ever did before.
When you think of having children at first it seems like all fun and games. Rocking babies and buying cribs and adorable baby outfits that will be washed in Dreft sends an aroma of fantasy through your mind. Then suddenly they come home one day with stinky feet and arm pits that smell like onions and you realize that you are eleven years in to your dream of starting of a family. Along the road there have been disappointments. You might not have a son or daughter yet. Your child may have chosen flute over basketball and their grades may not always be well. Your kids roll their eyes, grit their teeth and slam bedroom doors in your face. They are disrespectful sometimes, unappreciative most days and you are left exhausted, frustrated and wondering what in the world you were thinking. You have visions of life before when you could go scuba diving anytime you wish and you wonder if your body will be too old and tired to endure the salty ocean when your time to go diving comes again. In the midst of your illusion, your daughter walks in with her boyfriend holding hands and looking delighted. Your stomach drops because you know that look and about the same time your son and his wife barrel through the door with twin boys that are now two year olds. ‘Grandpa!’ They run into your arms and lather you with kisses and suddenly’.all else is forgotten!
Where did the time go? What have you missed out on by choosing to spend the heart of your life raising a family? How did you make it through when it seemed like just yesterday you could barely wash your own clothes let alone someone else’s? What have you accomplished in your life that makes it special, worthwhile and full of love? The answers to all those questions are standing right before you in your living room as you are surrounded with the family you started some two decades ago. The family that keeps growing, loving and giving back to your heart that still seems to have room for even more. It may not have all been perfect along the way and it may be entirely different than what you expected in the beginning; but starting a family is one of those things in life that you will never regret.
Starting a family is similar to planting a seed; first it must be tended to daily, watered with love and the commitment seems endless. Than the stem sprouts and soon the limbs, flowers and roots are becoming stronger. One day, the seed has grown into a tree that still needs to be protected from the elements of life like storms and high winds. But soon, it is tall enough to gather its own sunlight and the umbrella of shade from your own tree can no longer protect it from the heat of life. And one day, you look outside your window and see this tree you planted spreading seeds of its own. The commitment is never ending but luckily so is the love.