Knowing what I know now, I'm so grateful that we did. If I had to go back, I would make the same exact decisions again, but I'm glad that between the two of us we had the faith to make that decision without our current knowledge. I know that having a baby when we did made both of us better people, and made our marriage stronger than it would've ever been otherwise. Nearly ever good decision we've made since then precipitated from the decision to have a baby right then. So many of the blessings that we enjoy now can be traced, directly or indirectly, to getting pregnant in September of 2003.
I'm so grateful for my kids. I'm grateful to have a husband who readily and willingly accepted the responsibility of caring and providing for a family before we really knew which direction we were going in life. If we hadn't had Keilana when we did, I'm pretty sure I know what decisions we would've made, and they weren't bad decisions, but the ones we did make are so much better. I'm grateful for parents who always let me make my own decisions and deal with the consequences, good or bad, of those decision, and in so doing gave me the confidence and courage to make good decisions as an adult. Its my sincere hope that I can serve my own children so well.
I once read that in order to be a good parent you must become a child again yourself. I always thought of that in the context of learning again how to play and be silly and explore--and I do think it means that--but I think more than that, it means learning how to love like a child again. Small children love so unselfishly. As we grow out of our innocence and start to define ourselves separately from the people we've depended on, we lose that. And I don't think we really learn how to love in a truly unselfish way until we feel that unique love that a parent has for a child. Even though I think that we should love our spouse more than we love our children, and as much as I adore my kids that's certainly true in my case, I think we learn how to love better through the love that we have for our children. My cousin once told me that you don't know what true love is until you have children. I didn't know how right she was. I thought I was grateful for my parents before I had kids, but just 3 1/2 years into parenthood, I appreciate them more than I ever could have before. They're awesome.
I watch my daughter and sometimes I feel like I'm still trying to figure her out. I tend to think of her and being so much like her dad--so chatty, active, confident and passionate. Then I see her retreat into me, burying her head in my arm, whenever anyone less familiar than a good friend tries to talk to her and I realize that she's more like me than I give her credit for. I was organizing pictures last week, and going through all my photos of my kids made me realize something. I usually tease Keilana about being a drama queen and give Dylan all the credit for being the calm, even tempered one, but the fact is that I have countless hilarious pictures of Dylan screaming, furrowing his brow or trying to look intimidating, but in nearly every picture of Keilana from 3 months old on, she is smiling. Always smiling. Being happy is what she does best (and loudest, I might add) and she does it often. She loves to make other people happy, too. She is genuinely helpful in taking care of Dylan. A few months ago, after an extremely long week I laid down on my bed and, mostly out of sheer exhaustion, started to cry. Keilana saw me and ran off, quickly returning with a glass of cold water and a handful of Kleenex and told me, "Here Mommy, wipe your eyes. It'll be OK. I love you." What a wonder she is.