Ordinary, yet extraordinary. The birth of our Luke 18 years ago today
was no exception.
The ultimate universal – and cross-cultural – moment
That moment a child enters this world is among the most universal experiences known to human beings. Every person on this planet – past and present – has experienced it personally. And many of us have experienced either giving birth or assisting someone else in the process.
We would argue, then, bringing a child into the world is a truly cross-cultural experience. It happens in every culture. The joy emerging from the hard work and pain – the newness of a human being entering this world – is both a profound and yet so very common event.
Here we share with you about one of our experiences. This is the story of Luke, our third child, who today turns 18.
Compared to the other two, #3 was easy!
I certainly didn’t say that while my wife, Caroline, was pushing our third child, Luke, out into the world just a bit after midnight on November 12, 2000!
Even though Caroline's labor had been relatively short compared to her previous two live births, that’s still not something you'd say to any mother when she's doing the hard work of delivering a baby into the world.
We had been watching a movie with Caroline’s parents in our living room – I think it was Out of Africa – when the contractions began. We were into the film, so we just calmly timed the contractions as the movie went on. As the closing scenes where Meryl Streep decides to leave Kenya played across the screen, we realized it was time to head to the hospital.
Without much sense of urgency or panic, without the need to walk around the hospital for hours, and even without a strong desire for pain meds, Luke proceeded to make his way into this world smoothly. Caroline was already halfway dilated when we arrived at the hospital, and about four hours after we felt the first contractions, a dark head of hair with a blaze of blond appeared in the world.
Luke’s hair was so intriguing some of the nurses called other nurses to come see it. The bright blond streak amid the dark hair complimented his active and inquisitive eyes. He didn’t even cry, but instead looked around him with great curiosity from the get-go.
For the first 6-8 months, we had Luke sleep in a bassinet by our bed. After 5-6 months, he developed this game he would play. When he woke up, he would suddenly lift up his head, turn toward us in bed, and make an “O” with his mouth. This would invariably elicit a laugh from us, and he would join us.
From the beginning, Luke loved to bring joy to others. Even to this day, he cares about how other people feel and loves to laugh.
No question, Luke has been our joyful child. Caroline has often said, “God gave us Luke for laughter.” I’m sure God delights in him as much as we do.
I learned how to embrace what I couldn't control.
Truth is, I think we were both much mellower as we raised Luke. I know this is quite common. You have already figured out many of the big questions of parenting, and you have developed your own unique style.
I remember so many precious moments of snuggling with Luke. This is not to say I didn't do that with my older two. I really did. But with Luke, I relaxed. I leaned into my role as a mom. I treasured the time more with him as a baby (and also with the other two who are 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 years older). I embraced more of those "can't-get-em-back" moments.
And that has produced a really sweet connection between Luke and me, even to this day.
For by the time you get to the third child, you've kind of realized the next 15–20 years or so will be dominated by the task at hand: raising kids. You set your personal expectations lower. I'm not talking about copping out or giving up your dreams. No! You simply recognize your dreams may have to be modified to deal with your "new normal."
And this is healthy.
In many respects, you've mastered the art of release and, ironically, you often gain control of your biggest challenge in the parenting game: your own mind and emotions. And often – as was true in our case – you become truly comfortable in your skin (and your role) as a parent.
I am so grateful to be Luke's mom. Today he's 18, and I couldn't be prouder of the young man he's become!
If you are a parent of multiple children, how do/did you find your parenting experience? Can you relate?
Image credit: Dale & Caroline DePalatis
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