As my wife Kim nears the end of her pregnancy on our seventh child, I took a moment to look back on all the different times she has made my heart melt, swell and nearly burst when she has been bearing our children. In doing so, I was reminded of a surprising and important truth.
First, in an expression of gratitude, here are some reasons I simply adore my wife in pregnancy. My heart melts when I see her:
- Getting out of breath just standing up.
- Developing the duck waddle.
- When she discovers her skirt is inside out at the checkout in Target.
- When she works a 17 point turn just to roll over in bed at night.
- When she gets full on half a biscuit because her stomach is being shoved into her lungs.
- When she pees at least ten times a night because the baby is sleeping on her bladder.
- When I see her ankles swell up just for sitting in the car for 30 minutes.
- When indiscernible scents in our kitchen or across the street in someone else’s kitchen turn her stomach due to her ridiculously heightened sense of smell.
- When I find her hair everywhere in the house because she’s shedding it – which I never thought people did.
- When she pulls her pregnancy pants up over her stomach and it looks like she’s hiding a basketball.
- When I see her desperate to take a nap during the day because she didn’t sleep all night. But she doesn’t because the other children need her.
- When I see her cry over a scene in a film that is as moving as a Wednesday afternoon. Any Wednesday. Just pick one.
- When she steps on the weighing scales and sighs.
- When she sits down and her tee shirt rolls up.
- When I ask her for a hug and she looks at me like she wants to punch me in the face (okay. My heart doesn’t melt in that moment!).
- When she tries to sit like a lady but can’t get her knees to meet.
- I love when after the baby is born and someone else’s baby cries – her milk let’s down.
This may all sound a little like a moment of sentimentality, but there is also a great lesson in this thought. My friend once said, “you have to want the consequences of what you want.” It seems to me that in the wanting, we sacrifice and in the sacrificing we become. And in the becoming, we get. Happiness therefore, seems to be something that we don’t pursue – it ensues. Victor Frankl said, in ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
As Kim and I, as parents, have surrendered ourselves and personal agendas to the cause of our children; as we have said goodbye to dreamy, sleep filled nights and a tidy, quiet home, we have said hello instead to a happiness far greater in proportion than we could ever have imagined.
The lesson from my moment of sentimentality? Don’t chase happiness or the symbols of it. Chase with vigor what is right. Strive to be what is good. Devote your life to something big. In time, happiness will always follow.
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