Well, Naomi has survived her first month as a part of the English Tribe, and I have to say that outside of a few minor incidents (like the one pictured above where Naomi found out that elastic head-bands are not your friend when you pull on them and suddenly let go! lol) it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be.
To be honest, that is partially my fault, as I had allowed people to scare me half to death with their horror stories of what their first few weeks were like when they had their first child. So, I had prepared myself to become part of the Walking-Dead-Daddy’s Club due to an extreme lack of sleep & and the random screaming of a new born who only has one way to communicate. However, being able to tag-team with Sonia and get Naomi on a schedule of feeding, then napping, has allowed us to take care of her needs while still getting the rest that we truly believed we would have to go without.
Now, I have to add a disclaimer here, as I know that our situation is not like the one a lot of other people have had to raise children in. About 3 and a half years ago we had a conversation about wanting to start a family and we put a plan together on the things that we wanted to do & pay off prior to having a child. Over the next few years, sticking to that plan allowed us to free up our finances by paying off all of our debt. It wasn’t easy, but I thank God for being able to testify that we participated in a credit repair program that helped significantly raise our scores, we successfully eliminated all our credit card debt, we currently own all 3 of our vehicles outright with no monthly payments, and the only bills we have are rent, utilities, and whatever other bills we decide to make on our own.
In addition to the financial strategy we put in place, which included many nights of rice & beans being our favorite meal, we also spent time traveling to places that we had always wanted to see in person. Trips to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, & a few other places allowed us an opportunity to not just experience some amazing food & sights, but to also get away from the hustle of daily life and help cement our relationship with each other first and foremost.
During those years we learned the best ways to communicate with each other, and how to manage our emotions when conflict came up in our relationship. We learned how to love our extended family, but also how to set boundaries for their involvement in our lives. We learned how to say “NO” to church folks! (I’ve received my honorary PhD in Random Request Rejection, lol) Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my church family, but I Timothy 3:4-5 tells me that my first responsibility is at home. So, I understand that allowing my duties at church to come before the solidarity of my house is completely against God’s will for my life. As a pastor, living life this way has made peace much easier to come by between my wife and myself when dealing with outside influences.
Probably most importantly, we learned how to manage our finances and to have real discussions about who is spending what, and when that spending should (or should not) happen. Whether you realize it, or not, money/finances is consistently listed as one of the leading causes of stress in most relationship surveys. So, our ability to work together with joint accounts & limit opportunities for the dollar bill to be a stressor has paid great dividends for us in our marriage.
Now, I can hear you thinking, “I thought this blog was supposed to be about Naomi’s first month!” And I want you to know that it really is. It is because of the decisions that we started making 3 years ago that the first month with her has been everything we dreamed of.
With God’s blessings & our finances under control, Sonia has been able to be the stay at home mom that she always desired to be. In addition to that, I was able to spend the first 3 weeks of Naomi’s life at home as well, which has been an amazing experience for me personally. And even though I have returned to work, I have the flexibility which allows me to be completely present in her life, which has always been a secret desire of my heart.
With our time free, we have been able to tag-team-love her around the clock, with us taking shifts based on the needs of the other person. We have taken literally hundreds of photos, and hopefully have Naomi thinking that smiling and laughing is supposed to be a permanent part of life; as that’s about all she’s seen her parents doing for a solid month now.
In a nutshell, this first month has been completely amazing! I wouldn’t trade this time for anything in the world, and openly admit that I have been VERY selfish with it. I am not ashamed to say that my priorities have completely shifted, and if it’s not good for Sonia & Naomi, then it’s not good for me. Honestly, at this point, I couldn’t see it being any other way; I mean, we literally made a person! I’m sorry, but that is still incredible to me. And sometimes, I just sit and stare at her, thinking of the wonder of creation. Thinking about how amazing God is to allow us to be like Him, and create another person in our own image! How can anyone deny that He exists when looking into the face of a child that has features of your own?My sister likes to mess with us and say that she is going to be completely spoiled. You know what? She’s absolutely right! If hugging, kissing, holding, & giving her all the affection she deserves around the clock is spoiling…then we plan to spoil the fear of love & commitment out of her!
If encouraging her, disciplining her, protecting her, & doing everything in our power to provide her with every opportunity to succeed is spoiling…then she is going to be an incredibly successful spoiled mess.
And if spoiling is me modeling the behavior to her mother that I hope Naomi grows to one day expect when her turn comes to find a spouse…then I pray that God helps me to spoil her rotten and accept nothing less than the best that He has for her. I say this because there is one thing that I am absolutely positive of: The normal we create for her now will become the normal she will subconsciously search to re-enact for the rest of her life.
So, my prayer is that God continues to make me into the father she needs so she can become the woman He created her to be.