Friday, August 21, 2009

A love like no other


I got married in 2004 and became a father in 2006.

I always joke with people that when you get married, you say all those right things to your wife. “I love you so much—I’d lay down my life for you.” You say you’d lay down your life, but you never really mean it. It sounds good, so you just say it and hope to God you never find the two of you held captive by a terrorist who says, “I only have one bullet. Who is it going to be?”

The instant your child is born, however, you are prepared to hurl yourself in front of an oncoming bus just to stave off a case of the sniffles.

I used to laugh uproariously at those “Baby on Board” signs, until the day when I pulled away from the hospital with my one day-old son in the back. I was gripping the wheel so tightly I had lost all circulation in my fingers. “I’ve got a newborn in the car” I shouted as the car crept out of the parking lot, “now BACK OFF!”

I always thought those “Baby On Board” signs were designed to get others around you to drive more carefully. Now I realize they are really code for, “I have a baby in the car, please forgive me for driving like a ninny.”

I never knew love until I had my son. The moment I laid my eyes on him, I began to cry. I’ve been doing a lot of crying since then, but it is all good. There is an old Yiddish saying, “when the heart is full, the eyes overflow.” That more or less describes how I feel when I look at my son.

Little did I know before I held my son, I would be capable of so much love. Little did I know that this little person came into the world with a key in one hand and my heart in the other.

Guess what? Your child came into the world carrying both of those things (but holding your heart, not mine.) But the question is, have you let them keep the keys, or did you snatch them back?

From my perspective, our children will be the best teachers we will ever have. They can teach us patience, nurturing and unconditional love. They can teach us about change and enlightenment and eventually the ability to let go. They can improve our marriage, our work performance, and our free time. They can shape the relationships we have with close friends and complete strangers. They can save our environment and bring about world peace. If I could convince you our children would also help you lose 10 pounds in 3 days, lower your golf score, and cut the time you could cook a roast chicken in half, I’d sell you one for just three easy payments of just $19.99. But the fact of the matter is, that what sounds too good to be true isn’t. Your children have come into this world prepared to offer you the most amazing gifts. The question is, did you see the gifts, or did life, old habits, and conditioning get in the way?

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