Extreme Giving

by Jason Kotecki on · 9 comments

I’ve been doing a lot of giv­ing lately. ’Tis the sea­son, right? But I’m not talk­ing about gift cards to Out­back Steak­house or the “I saw this sweater and thought of you” type of giv­ing. You see, just about two weeks ago, my wife Kim gave birth to our sec­ond child, a baby boy named Ben. (Wel­come, Ben!) Most of my time has been donated to help with dia­pers, feed­ings, cook­ing, clean­ing, and absorb­ing the atten­tion of a needy three-year-old big sis­ter. I give as much as I can and take sleep when I can get it.

Any­body who has kids knows this rou­tine. The first month (or more) can be hell. You give and give and give, while hold­ing up any gas-induced smile as real proof that this lit­tle being is truly appre­cia­tive of your unceas­ing effort. (It’s not, but it’s imper­a­tive to pre­tend that it is.)

Before Kim and I had our first child, many peo­ple warned us that we’d even­tu­ally suc­cumb to Adul­ti­tis once we became par­ents. They assured us that kids were the undis­puted CAUSE of Adul­ti­tis. We weren’t so sure, so we kept weekly jour­nals through­out our entire first year of par­ent­hood in order to stay mind­ful of our bat­tle with the “Big A.” The process was fas­ci­nat­ing, and even­tu­ally turned into a book that just so hap­pened to come into the world at about the same time as lit­tle Ben. (Wel­come, book!) When the boxes of them arrived from the printer, I opened one and landed on an entry I wrote six months into my first par­ent­ing foray. Here it is in its entirety: * * * *

My best friend’s sis­ter just had a baby. We’ve been hear­ing a lot of sto­ries about the new par­ents, includ­ing the stan­dard late nights and issues with feed­ing and pump­ing. It seems like all babies have some sort of dilemma to deal with at the begin­ning, some­thing that usu­ally overly con­cerns the par­ents, espe­cially new ones. The “issue” varies from kid to kid, but the fact that there usu­ally IS one is normal.

Any­way, hear­ing their sto­ries took me back to our first days. I couldn’t believe how much I’d already for­got­ten about that first month. How hard it was. And nerve-wracking. And tir­ing. Believe me, a six-month-old is no walk in the park, but I’d take it over a six-day-old any time (as far as the work part is concerned).

I sup­pose the for­get­ful­ness is God’s lit­tle way of keep­ing the human race going. It’s hard to imag­ine any­one putting them­selves though the trauma of labor and the first few weeks again if it weren’t for the mem­ory fad­ing a bit. Hap­pily, the good mem­o­ries remain, and the unpleas­ant ones lessen in their intensity.

But the real point I want to make, espe­cially if you are a new parent-to-be or a freshly minted mom or dad going through this period we call boot camp, is this: There is a light at the end of the tun­nel. It gets bet­ter. And eas­ier. I know, it’s a small con­so­la­tion if you’re smack dab in the mid­dle of it, but it’s true.

The work is hard, but the rewards are great. I already miss the early days when Lucy was that small – sweet and help­less and awe­somely new.

I miss those days enough that I’m begin­ning to con­sider the prospect of going through it again. Eventually.

* * * * I intended for that jour­nal entry to be a ray of hope to other moms and dads. Lit­tle did I know I was also writ­ing to myself.

Re-reading it has helped me to remem­ber that although giv­ing is always part of the gig, it will not always be this tax­ing. And it reminded me to pay atten­tion to the lit­tle gifts I get along the way: Feed­ing my new son under the glow of the Christ­mas tree, the smell of his lit­tle fuzzy head, and the irre­sistible grunts and squeaks that only new­borns can make. Indeed, giv­ing always rewards the giver in unex­pected and boun­ti­ful ways.

That’s how giv­ing works.

by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and pro­fes­sional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a for­mer kinder­garten teacher) make it their mis­sion in life to fight Adul­ti­tis and help peo­ple use strate­gies from child­hood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escap­ing adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

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