I was at a friend’s birthday party last weekend. I struck up a conversation with a young couple as they took turns bouncing their first baby (3 months old) on their knees. Seeing my wife walk by with her obvious baby bump showing, they asked me, “So, are you ready for the new baby?”
“Yes!” I blurted out without a second of pause or doubt. What I meant by this response is that I’m excited to meet our baby, hold it, care for it, watch it grow and develop and so forth.
Upon further reflection, though, I realized that people can be asking about a lot of different things when they ask if you’re ready. They might be asking if you have all the clothes, diapers, blankets, etc. that you need. They might be asking if you are emotionally prepared for high highs and low lows that are about to befall. Or, maybe they are making a statement about how your world is about to get rocked, but trying to soften the blow by disguising it in the form a question. So, what does “Are you ready” mean? Perhaps it means all of the above.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of getting ready for a baby is the question of whether or not I’m ready to sacrifice and serve in all the ways parenthood requires. During our first pregnancy, this question scared me to death. I was certain that I wasn’t ready because I had no idea what kind of sacrifice and service would be required of me. I could only hope that I was ready. After the fact, I could look back and see that I was ready, even if I didn’t know it at the time. With all subsequent pregnancies, I had a much better idea of what to expect and how to prepare for the new levels of sacrifice and service that would be required. But the question still remained about whether or not I was ready to keep on escalating the sacrifice and service with each new life for which I became responsible.
I used to think that love came in finite amounts. I liked to imagine that I had a tank of love in my heart. Once I gave out all my love, then the tank would be empty and there would be no more to go around. So, I worried that each new kid would only exhaust my finite love tank more quickly. But having 4 kids (soon to be 5) has taught me an unexpected lesson. Miraculously, as my family grows, so does my love tank. Each time I think I won’t be able to love my wife and children any more than I already do, I find some new way to love them more and more.
Am I ready to love another human being more than I can imagine? Am I ready to serve my family in ways I never dreamed of before? Am I ready to sacrifice my personal ambitions in favor of long-term vision for my family? Heck yeah, I am! I can feel my love tank expanding already.