So lucky

Yesterday our daughter sent a text message with a picture of her son. The words she wrote were, “How did we get so lucky?” Her mother and her sister in law reminded her that there was more than luck involved in them becoming parents. They have worked hard for a long time towards this goal. It wasn’t easy for them to become pregnant and she endured a lot to get to the point where she became a mother. My initial reaction was slightly different. I simply said that the feeling she was having is exactly the way I feel about her: “How did we get so lucky?”

Like all parents, we have experienced ups and downs along the way. Our son, who was born first, had to have surgery when he was just a baby. Our daughter had to have tubes placed in her ears after repeated ear infections as a tiny child. There were nights with little sleep and times when I didn’t know if it would be possible to be more tired. There were a few boyfriends in whom I couldn’t see the reason for any attraction and a few broken hearts when trust had been misplaced. There were times when we worried because of decisions that our children made. But all in all, being a parent is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

As a pastor, I have seen tragedies that have come into the lives of others. I have been with parents who have lost children through a number of different tragic events. I am aware of the dangers that are a part of this life. There are illnesses that rob families of their children. There are addictions that defy intervention and treatment. There are choices that have tragic consequences. Families experience trauma in many different ways. Our family has been very fortunate in avoiding these experiences.

These blessings in our life are not the product of our having earned them. Tragedies and traumas enter the lives of people without a sense of justice or fairness. They just happen.

I used to joke, when our son was a tiny baby, that the fact that he was so good at going to bed and sleeping through the night was a product of “superior parenting.” I knew, at least at some level, that this was not true. We were lucky to have a son who was so content in his sleep. But at another level, I sort of believed myself. We had been careful about establishing bedtime routines. We were consistent in our expectations and our treatment of our son. Then his sister came into our family. She woke in the night every night. This went on for years. I became very, very tired. And, when I once complained to my mother about the interruptions of sleep, she had no sympathy at all. She said that perhaps I deserved to have such happen to me. I don’t know about the “deserved” part, but I do know that the waking in the night and the fatigue in the daytime is just part of the process of being parents. And the time went by quickly and soon she was sleeping through the night. She continued to provide me with sleepless in the night well into her twenties. There were times when i worried about her and wondered where she was when she became old enough to have her driver’s license and go out with her friends. My worst fears were never realized. And those times also passed quickly.

And now I am blessed with joys that multiply - literally. We have four grandchildren. Yesterday when we arrived at our son and daughter in law’s home we were greeted by a grandson who ran out to the yard to meet us. Just inside the back door, we were hugged warmly by two granddaughters who had been scrambling to get on their shoes and coats so they could also run out. Throughout the day and into the evening there were hugs and kind words from young people. Our two year old kept saying, “It’s perfect!” It is.

Part of the deep joy of being a grandparent is getting to witness the delight of our children in being parents. I watch our son playing with his children and it sparks memories of my own past. I can see that he really enjoys being a father. I can see that he loves his children and that he is delighted to have time to be with them. Knowing that our children have happy and meaningful lives is a blessing beyond words.

I know that there are challenges ahead. No life is without mistakes. No journey is without misdirection. I also have confidence that our family will be able to meet the challenges that will come our way.

I am envious of grandparents who are able to live so close to their grandchildren that they can attend every school program and recital and concert and game. I get deep pleasure and meaning from being with our grandchildren. That is one important factor in our decision to move from Rapid City next year when we complete our calls as pastors to the church we now serve. But I also know that it is unlikely that our two children will soon live near each other. For now they don’t even live on the same continent. One of the priorities for our move is accessibility to public transportation so that we will be able to travel to visit our grandchildren wherever they are located.

Compared to families of previous centuries, we are blessed to have access to travel. That little grandson who is making our daughter feel so lucky was born in Japan. In a few days we’ll be traveling to meet him face-to-face for the first time. We have already seen videos and pictures of him. We have seen him over video chat on the phone and computer. These are luxuries unknown to the parents of previous generations.

How did we get so lucky?

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!