This week we're going to discuss the raising of children. We consider them to be part of the unexpected realities, in marriage. Most parents are not prepared for the changes that children add to their life. In our experience, the girls shocked and surprised us more than they ever created any real heartache. They came up with twists and turns that we are not sure any parent could prepare for in advance. As a couple, we had to learn how to unify our front in dealing with them.
Heather and I were 18 years old when we got married. We had a really short engagement as well. Some may be thinking that perhaps she was pregnant when we got married but that was not the case either. Our entire dating and engagement period was barely over 6 months. Heather became pregnant just 6 weeks into our marriage. Neither of us was prepared for that on any level (e.g. emotionally, financially, or otherwise...).
When Heather was in her 5th month of pregnancy, she was involved in a car accident. She had been wearing her seatbelt, which protected her from slamming into the steering wheel. The impact bruised her bladder but didn't hurt the baby. Then, 2 days later, we were both involved in a car accident. A teen driver ran a stop sign and we t-boned his car with my dad's truck. I never even hit the brakes, as he ran right out into traffic. The thought of Heather screaming "MY BABY, MY BABY" haunts me to this day. We thought that we had lost Mindy. After a few days in the hospital and all the test were completed, we were very pleased to find out that Mindy was unharmed. We were so thankful the day that she was born to visibly verify for ourselves that she was really okay.
We were not prepared for the endless sleepless nights, in the beginning. It did not take me very long to realize that Mindy needed to stay up more during the day and I worked hard to make that happen so she would sleep at night. As she began to grow and we began to settle into the roles of mommy and daddy, we learned more about how to adjust our lives. As I stated in Part 5 of this series, Heather was mainly the one who made most of the adjustments and I just found more things to work at and keep me busy. I don't know if I ever did get used to being puked on, peed on, and crapped on. Mindy was a projectile vomiter. Just point and shoot! At one point, I thought we had spawned a demon and was just waiting for her head to spin all the way around (Exorcist reference, LOL). Nothing in my life had prepared me for that concept but mothers seem to accept it more quickly and just deal with it.
Our second baby would come to us about 2 1/2 years later. Thankfully, we didn't have to deal with multiple car accidents with Kassondra. The last few months of the pregnancy, Heather was dealing with a lot of stress and was put on bed rest. I would imagine that our marital struggles had a lot to do with that. She also had a troubled delivery and issues with low blood pressure. It was very stressful for me because I felt so helpless.
It did not help my situation that the night Heather was in labor, a mother lost her life and both babies (twins). She had snuck into the bathroom to smoke. A blood clot moved from her leg to her brain. That was the most heart-wrenching scene I have ever witnessed in my life. Particularly when the husband came back to the hospital and they told him what had happened. My whole family sat in the waiting room weeping that night. Fortunately, Heather was unaware of this even happening and we didn't tell her for some time after she was out of the hospital.
Through all of the labor struggles and incidents, somehow we managed to bring two beautiful little girls into the world both strong and healthy. After our "almost divorce" in 1995, I became fully engaged in raising the girls and learned just how messy children can be. No more babysitters when Heather went to work. I gave them baths and learned how to feed them properly so that they would quit crying all the time.
Through the coming years, we would grow a deep family bond that is unbroken to this day. The quality time that we spent with them as they grew and explored their world was priceless. We took them everywhere with us. They grew to know us as the real people we are and not false representations of perfect people. This blog is not big enough to hold all of the memories that we have created with our children. Though times were tough in different periods of our life through financial burdens, sickness, broken hearts, and many other emotional tragedies, we would not trade a single moment because those were the events that shaped us into the people that we are today.
You may be struggling right now with your own children. They are challenging the last bit of sanity you have left in you. Take it from a couple who has already climbed that mountain and reached the top. You will miss the journey when it is gone. Cherish those memories. Relish in the noise and messes that your children make. Reminisce in the sounds of childhood and laughter. Lean into God when they reject you through their teen years and tell you that they don't need you anymore. They will stretch their wings for flight and want to see what they can do without your help. They will return to you again if you just hold on and pray through the struggling times.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
The day they walk out the door for the last time and walk into their own home will be a tearful day of gladness and sorrow. However, it will be filled with the joy of the Lord for having finished the race and brought them to adulthood without killing them (LOL, kidding).
Parenting can be challenging. It can also be very rewarding. We suggest that parents find more reasons to smile with their kids. Find reasons to laugh and play with them. Focus more on the good qualities that they have and less on any bad ones. Create so many memories with them that they can never forget the love that you had for them.
Tim & Heather Key