Recently, I found myself sitting at a friend’s home on a Saturday night watching a football game. Truth be told, the little crowd that had gathered wasn’t really there to watch the game. We were all mid- to late-twenty somethings with at least one or two kids apiece. In reality, getting together for this football game meant being able to let our children play, eat some good food, and just be able to sit down, breathe, and have some grownup conversation. By 9 pm, we were all falling asleep and ready to go home. If you’ve got any number of little ones at home, I’m sure you can relate.
I’m sure you can also relate when I say that there are times that I look at the lives of my childless peers with longing. Not that I want to be without children again, but that sometimes being a parent is so stinking hard. And sometimes it’s the farthest thing from fun.
You see, when you’re a young parent, whether through planning or fate, responsibility weighs especially heavy on you. Many of your friends are still single or childless, and one glance at your Facebook newsfeed quickly makes you realize that your place in life is not the norm for people your age. You may feel like you’re missing out on all the fun and spontaneity that should come with this age you’re at, overwhelming burdens ever holding you back. While your childless friends can just up and go out tonight without even a thought, you would find yourself wishing that you had enough money for a sitter. And even if you did, you’d be scrambling to pack the diaper bag, only to end up having to cancel everything because one of your children had come down with something. I repeat: sometimes being a parent is the farthest thing from fun.
But sometimes it’s the most ridiculously amazing fun.
There’s nothing like the joy that floods your heart when your baby smiles at you for the first time, or the pride you feel when your child says thank-you to the cashier at the grocery store. Your two-year-old can make you laugh harder than any comedian ever could. And have you ever taken a kid to Disneyland? It’s like being a kid and seeing the magic for the first time ever yourself.
I’m sure that our single, childless peers would find our Saturday nights lame and boring…proof that you shouldn’t have kids young. Some may shake their heads and say that we’re tied down or missing out. And maybe we are. But I think they’re missing out too.
If you’re a young parent, like me, your life stopped mirroring a Taylor Swift song a long time ago. And that’s okay. You can still have an amazing impact on this world, have fun, and enjoy your youth, even with little ones in tow. Children and responsibility don’t have to be terrible things to put off and avoid. In fact, sometimes the most freedom and joy is found when we are “tied down” with little ones. We know the purpose God has for us today because that purpose is looking up at us with a crooked little smile every morning at breakfast. And knowing that gives us the freedom to grow and be and change and do without spending time worrying about committing to the wrong path.
Someday when our kids are all grown and our peers are still raising theirs, they’ll be the ones looking at our lives with longing. Meanwhile, we’ll be off adventuring and changing the world.