As we sing Happy Birthday to Nate, I think back over the last ten years and wonder if I should laugh or cry at how different things are. A baby in any family always changes the family in some way, but this one was unique. It is amazing how the lessons we need in life come from the most unusual places, including our children.
Before Nate’s birth, I had what I thought was a pretty good life. I had a husband who was working two jobs to take care of our family, two sweet little girls, and a home we loved. But I didn’t realize how shallow I had become. I would look at people and judge them, thinking I knew everything about them just by what they looked like. I acted as if I had all the answers to life. There is one word to describe perfectly what I was, and that is “prideful.”
There is a proverb that says, “Pride goeth before the fall.” And this is what happened to me–I tripped over my pride and fell flat on my face. But if I hadn’t been given this wake-up call, I shudder to think of who I would be right now or if my marriage and family would have even lasted.
This third baby was going to be our last. Somehow I had convinced my husband we needed one more, even though he really only wanted two children. When we found out it was a boy during the ultrasound, we were ecstatic. We already had the two daughters, and now we would add a son. Our family would be complete. Little did we know what the ultrasound had missed.
The day arrived for Nate to come, and we headed to the hospital, so excited to meet our little boy. We had been through quite a bit this pregnancy: my husband’s job was cut, and then he was hired by a company seventy miles away. He was to start the Monday after my due date, and we knew our timing was tight. We were thankful he had a job, but we needed to get this sweet little one here, so we could get ready to sell our house and move.
The labor was normal, but the delivery was anything but. As Nate was born, the doctor announced he had a cleft lip and palate. It hadn’t been caught in the ultrasound, and there was no family history of the problem, so we weren’t expecting it all.
This was the start of a very powerful journey for me. In one year’s time, Nate had two major surgeries, one minor surgery, two bouts with pneumonia–one of them resulting in a five day hospital stay–and who knows how many bronchial asthma issues. We also had two major moves, and I broke my leg in four places falling down a flight of stairs. It was amazing to me how much one family could go through in such a short time.
Through these trials, what you might call the fall from thinking I knew everything, I learned quickly I didn’t have all the answers and to never take anything for granted. When the people at the store would stare or ask me why I would take such a baby out in public, I realized to never judge a person by what you see. You never know what people have gone through, so I learned to be kind to others for the same reason. I finally started to look beyond myself and reach out to others.
It is now ten years after that baby boy changed our lives. Another major move, three more girls added to the family, three more major surgeries, a couple of minor surgeries, a diagnosis of ADHD, and years of speech therapy later, we have come a long way from the hospital room where my life took that unexpected turn. I know one thing for sure: I’m grateful for all of the changes he brought to my life.
Now I watch that not-so-little boy rip into his next present with shouts of excitement. I know I am his mother, and I am trying hard to teach him, but he has taught me so much over the last ten years that I’m sure there are more lessons to be learned. The biggest lesson for me though is to be open to learning from any lessons given to me, in any way they come.
QUESTION: Have your children ever taught you a lesson you didn’t expect but you needed to learn?
CHALLENGE: Next time you face a challenge with one of your children, take a mental step back and look at it from a different angle. There just might be a life lesson in it for you.
Images provided by Michelle Stark Kurns.
What an amazing article – this meant a lot to me.