The humbling effect of a newborn child

My lovely wife recently gave birth to our first child, a precious little girl that we named Amber Grace Lamberti.  As you can imagine, our lives have been flipped upside down, mostly in good ways I might add.

What has struck me during this journey so far is how just when you think you have it all figured out in life, something, almost always by providence I think, comes along to prove you wrong.  Well for us that ‘something’ is 3kgs with a voice that at 2am seems to put foghorns to shame and with an independent will and unique personality that we have to learn from scratch.

I often get irritated when people talk about how ‘humbling’ a particular experience is.  Like when a rugby player lifts a trophy or is awarded player of the year at the end of the season and then proceeds to try convince us that it is a ‘humbling’ experience. 

Of course it is nothing of the sort, but greatly exalting.  A humbling experience would be coming last in the league championship and being awarded the biggest blooper of the season award.

You cannot be puffed up and proud after that.  You’re a little deflated, maybe embarrassed, and you get a strong reality check as to the limitations of your capabilities.  You realise that while you’re special, you’re not that special.  You come to accept weaknesses, mistakes and failures in others with far more grace and empathy.  You also begin to understand that unless you are just plain lucky or blessed with sickeningly unfair talent, success at anything takes hard work, long hours (often painful hours at that), multiple failures, and a lot of truly humbling experiences along the way.

Well, that is roughly how my wife and I feel with the arrival of our gorgeous girl.  We don’t have everything figured out.  We need coaching all the time.  We feel out of control sometimes, and when we put in place a game plan it seems to unravel within a few days.  Sometimes we play as a team but sometimes the team spirit is lacking.  We have come to realise that the hours are long and tiring, sometimes with no reward at the end, and we have to accept that sometimes at the end of a long hard day we’ll still be at the bottom of the log, scrapping for every point, missing tackles, and conceding territory.

This has truly been a humbling experience, and to think, we’re only 1 month into the journey!

And yet, as tough as it is coming to grips with this precious new life in our lives, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because at the end of the day, humility is one of the greatest traits we can have wrought into us.  The challenges bring my wife and I closer, like any good team enduring a hard season.  They force us to get to know our baby intimately, to understand her better, to live selflessly for her and not selfishly for ourselves.  They give us perspective, that life is not about our happiness and comfort, but serving others, sacrificing the easy life for the meaningful life, and finding peace within us that we can’t control everything, that we don’t have everything figured out, and that, most of all, we have a Father in heaven who has our backs in good times and tough times.

Having a child is a humbling experience.  She will tire you out, test your resolve, force you to be awake when you would rather sleep, and reorder your once lofty priorities around her and her alone.  She will make you feel like a novice again, and when all her needs are met, she’ll come up with another one that you’re totally unprepared for.  Your life is not your own, and that realisation is the most grounding and humbling of all.

But like everything in life that is difficult and humbling, the rewards are wonderful and far outweigh the costs.  Staring at my beautiful little lady swaddled asleep in my arms I can only marvel at the goodness of our Creator, the exciting future we have as a family, the challenges and rewards of fatherhood in the years to come, and the prospect of one day sitting across the table from a beautiful, accomplished, intelligent and responsible woman who is not only my daughter, but also my friend.

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