A couple of weeks ago Little Z hit that milestone where he could smile based on stimuli. Prior to that you will get an occasional smirk, but you never know if it is response to your antics, or if they are just having irritable bowels. During those weeks before you know he is smiling at you, you are doing every fool thing you can to get a reaction out of the cute little bundle. In addition to that, you are changing innumerable diapers, getting up at unhealthy hours of the night to feed the little guy, and toting him pretty much everywhere.
In short, you are putting a lot more into the little guy than you are getting back out. From an economics standpoint, this would seem like a bad investment. While parenting is like economics in some ways, it is also like farming. If you have never grown something, let me just summarize by saying that you will spend significantly more time working on getting the crop to the point of harvest, than you will actually eating the harvest. Parenting, like planting, is not about the return on your investment of time. It is all about rewards that are impossible to measure with human metrics. The flavor of fresh grown produce that goes directly from the garden to the table is amazing. It has so much more flavor that many who try it for the first time, find the experience a bit shocking.
That is parenting. You work the soil, plant the seed, tenderly water, and gently remove those weeds that would strangle your precious little seedlings. One day, those seedlings grow to full-grown plants and they produce a crop that is staggering in its quality.
Having children with a big age spread helps Beautiful and I keep perspective. Coco is 23 and making plans for a family with his new fiancé. Thunder is 12 now and has had a fantastic year of highs and lows. The lows were times where we had to wonder if there was anybody home (as you will with most 12 year olds) and the highs were times where Beautiful and I had to marvel at what a wonderful young man had just appeared in our home.
The reality is that this wonderful new version of Thunder didn’t just appear in our home, and Coco didn’t end up dodging many of life’s difficulties by accident. By God’s grace, they have received the things young seedlings need to grow. Working that crop is hard work. And it takes endurance. You have to keep working until the plants are ready. Lapsing for a period of diligent care could be enough to kill your crop. But, let me assure you as one would-be farmer to another. When that crop comes in, you will marvel at how you ever had doubts, or times where you were ready to rest.
The choice is really simple. You can more or less avoid the work and let school, TV and other entertainments raise your children for you, or you can work that soil yourself. If you are satisfied with supermarket flavor where everything tastes pretty much the same, and none of it is all that moving, that is an option.
For us, Beautiful and I will keep on planting smiles because the harvest is bountiful. Now, if only I had time to actually garden…