I could never have fully prepared myself for the rush of emotion I felt at 8:23 am on July 27, 2016. Prior to my 8-pound, 1-ounce son’s arrival, my wife Erin and I had countless conversations, read numerous books, and logged most of our weekly free time in birthing, breastfeeding, and childrearing courses.
I thought we were prepared, and I knew things would need to change, but I definitely underestimated how different life would look when our son was born.
You see, there’s a less obvious change that happens to first-time parents as they move from couplehood to parenthood. Sure, the difference might not be as outwardly noticeable as an adjusted social calendar or deteriorated sleep schedule, but there is indeed a newness that takes place.
My wife Erin and I got married at 22 years old, and we have spent the better part of the last six or seven years finding our own identities alongside one another. From time to time this proved to be difficult, but I’m glad to say with each season of self-discovery came a new sense of oneness and alignment.
However, adding our son into the mix changed everything—and everyone. We had a new reality, a new life together, but we kept trying to cram it into the old framework.
Fast forward to today, and our boy just turned seven months old. I wouldn’t say we have all the answers or have anything mastered by any stretch of the imagination. However, as we’ve kept on and endured a new chapter of our family, we’ve discovered three things:
We needed a new life.
The type of regeneration and restoration that Paul discusses in the Book of Romans isn’t just for the outwardly broken or sinful. It’s easy to see that a criminal, an addict, or the sexually immoral need to bury their old life in exchange for a new one; but the truth is, so do I. I need a second chance with my words to my wife. I need another opportunity to be more present with my son. We all need a new life.
We needed to embrace each other’s new life.
Motherhood looked gorgeous on my wife, but also served as a reminder that another (young) man that now needed her besides me. The temptation as things in my life changed was to hold my wife to a previously set standard. She used to ask me about my day and then listen as I recounted the good, bad, and ugly I had endured. After my son was born, that changed—so I assumed she must not care. The truth was, my wife had just worked a full day herself and was feeling the pressure of the things around the home she used to manage that can no longer fit in her day. Instead of feeling like I had lost some part of her, I needed to see the beauty in the woman who stood before me and embrace who she now was.
We needed to ask God to journey with us in our new life.
Others’ experiences may be different than my own, but stepping into parenthood unlocked a deeper understanding of God’s character, while simultaneously challenging the amount of time I walked with Jesus. There were diapers to change and groceries to buy, food to prepare and relatives to invite over, but looking back, I realize that I neglected Jesus in those early days of parenthood. How I wish I could go back and invite God to grant me the wisdom, pause, and gentleness I didn’t have when interacting with Erin. I realize now, even if we reconcile these new lives and new lifestyles, if Jesus isn’t at the center, it won’t be enough.
We’re not there yet. But we’re learning to be gentler with our words and striving to keep giving our child everything he needs, but no longer at the detriment of our marriage.
Sometimes the greatest transformation comes through the most understated adjustments, and as I’ve diligently learned to understand my own newness and strive to see and embrace someone else’s, I start to better resemble the “new me” God calls me to be.
Jeff Moser is a Central Music Developer on Eagle Brook’s Central Music Team. He and his wife Erin live in Northeast Minneapolis with their 7-month-old son.