One of the many gifts of being a parent is the gift of falling in love with the world again. As adults, we grow jaded about our world. We are too busy to see its beauty. Too hurt to see its joy. Too self-conscious to let ourselves enjoy creation freely. To a baby, toddler, and preschooler, everything in the world is magic. As the parent of a young child, you get the opportunity to see the beauty in the world once again and fall in love, as you did when you were a kid.
When you are with your child, it’s OK to crouch down in the middle of a sidewalk for ten minutes and watch a colony of ants busily marching from place to place! You can let a caterpillar walk all over your hand and up and down your arm while you admire the coordination it must take to move all those legs in concert. You can rediscover how amazing it is that humans have built space shuttles that take us to space.
Parenting forces you to second-guess the habits you think nothing of and rethink what we take for granted. Referencing people living above the arctic circle, my son asked, “How do they know what time it is if the sun never rises?” I replied, “They tell the time using clocks.” Then, after some thought, added, a bit dispirited, “Mom and I are ALWAYS looking at the clock to see what time it is. Our entire lives are run by the clock…” Luckily, I don’t think his mood was soured by my depressing realization. Having to answer difficult questions is a great way to reflect on what truly matters in life. After telling my son that an army truck was used by people who protect our nation, he asked, “Why does our country need protecting?” Wow. Great question. Why do we need protecting? Does it have to be this way? How wonderful to be encouraged to sort out these complex topics and try to distill them to the heart. Parenting gives us these opportunities.
I’m thankful for the chance to see the world afresh through the eyes of my son. I’m grateful for how he has helped me to slow down and enjoy the world again. I look forward to learning so much more together with him.
Image: Admiring a caterpillar in our front yard, 2015.