It was one of the best sandwiches I had ever made. Each piece, from the mouth-watering meat to the warm poppy seed bread, was perfect. It dripped flavor. It begged to be devoured. The time to enjoy had arrived. As I sat down, with my masterpiece placed before me, a horrid sulfuric smell burnt my nostrils and soured my taste buds. My two year old was standing next to me with an overflowing diaper. “I’m poopie Daddy,” she announced for the first of twenty times.
My first inclination was to ignore her—at least until my sandwich was eaten—but it was impossible. The smell had overtaken the room and I knew from experience that she would never give up till her diaper was changed.
Women sometimes say that they lose part of their brains when they have children. But if this is true then what excuse do we men have? Fathers, at least the ones who actually participate in raising their children, seem to lose part of their minds too. You can usually spot these fathers in stores by the little handprints on their clothes, the pink jacket or toy they are carrying, and the blank stare on their face—seemingly oblivious to the orbiting child yelling “I want this! I want this!”
I am not suggesting that fathers have it worse than mothers. No not at all, children take their toll on all parents. It begins the day they are born. The unsuspecting parents don’t realize that the sleep they are missing those first couple of weeks will never be recovered. They can’t guess that they will never again be able to finish a thought without being interrupted, have a clean car, or use the restroom in peace.
No one can prepare you for parenthood.
The other side is just as bewildering. There is no way to explain the overwhelming love and inadequacy that you feel the very first time you hold your baby in your arms. Or the pride and amazement that you have as they learn to do the most simple things like walking or riding a bike. They say the funniest things and make wonderful memories.
Children require that you give of yourself. They force you out of your selfish little world and demand constant attention. It can be very difficult, but also very rewarding. It is easy to just see the negative and forget the benefits. Often when I am starting to feel frustrated with my children because I am not able to do whatever it is that I want to do, I remember the words that Jesus spoke in the New Testament to his disciples who were trying to keep the children from bothering Him. “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Suddenly, my sandwich doesn’t seem so important.