Changing a diaper faster than a NASCAR pit crew. Good life skill to learn. Distinguishing between a real cry and fake cry within the first two seconds. Another good life skill I’ve learned compliments of my four kids. On a more serious note, here are four impactful lessons I’ve learned by having four kids:
1. Life isn’t about you. That’s perhaps the first and biggest lesson any parent has to learn. To be a great parent, you can’t be the center of your universe. This lesson extrapolates as you pile on the kids. I literally have hobbies that I can associate dropping when I had more kids: Golf (Zeke), Tennis (Shep), Xbox/Wii (Linc). To gain something, I had to give up something. But that’s okay, because life isn’t about me.
2. Sleep is overrated. I got an early start on this blog today because my 2-year-old decided to walk into our bedroom at 5 am, turn on the lights, and ask for chocolate milk. Most of the time I don’t even have to set an alarm any more. The kids get me up. Kids one and two were the dark days when my body hadn’t quite adjusted to the lack of sleep that comes with parenting young kids. Now I’m a little more used to it. I used to be unable to function with less than 8 hours. Now if I get 5 or 6, I’m good.
3. Money does not equal happiness. Right alongside the hobbies I’ve given up I could stack up toys and other nice things that I would have liked to get for myself over the years but couldn’t because my income goes to taking care of the kids. There’s a lot of things Robin and I used to splurge on that we don’t get to anymore. Four kids makes our budget especially tight. But we’re happy. We don’t have all we’d like, but we have more than we need. Our happiness shifted from what money could buy to our kids a long time ago. Money does not equal happiness.
4. It’s more blessed to give than to receive. These words of Jesus always hang out in the background of my mind. I’ve found it to be an incredibly powerful and life-giving truth. As a parent, especially a parent of four young kids, my life is about giving. My time is not my own. My evenings belong to my kids. Sometimes my sleep belongs to my kids. I give and give and give. And yet I can honestly say that I’m more blessed now than I’ve ever been. My family gives me a blessing that far surpasses anything I could have ever selfishly obtained for myself.
QUESTION: What lessons have you learned by having and raising kids?