In a recent TV documentary, a father was bemoaning that whilst everything else they brought home came with an instruction manual, the most precious thing they brought home – their child – did not. Being a parent is something you have to learn ‘on the job’. It is the most incredible privilege, and the most incredible responsibility.
I was moved to tears at the birth of all four of my children – the miracle of new life is just an amazing thing to see. I share the feelings that have been expressed to me by so many parents over the years that the arrival of a child has changed their life totally. They have found that everything had to be re-valued. This tiny person who seems so frail and vulnerable (actually most babies are as tough as old boots) depends initially totally on parents whose love and skills will shape so much of what he or she may become.
Frankly, it is scary. But providing we don’t get betrayed into thinking we have to be perfect parents – because there aren’t any – then we cope. What we aim to be is ‘good enough’. We will have enormous joys as we watch children become who they are – but inevitably we will also have tears. Support from the wider family or from good friends can be a tremendous help, but at the end of the day it is down to us to make what we can of this most important task we ever undertake.
In the Bible, the Psalmist wrote that children are a gift from the Lord, and there is an old Jewish saying that there are three people involved in the conception of a child – a man, a woman and the Holy Spirit of God. Maybe if we reflect on the language we take for granted – God as our Father, ourselves as his children – and the less familiar but also Biblical language about God as Mother, then we will find the clues to fulfilling this wonderful calling.
Mothers’ Union is very grateful to the author of Growing Together: A guide for couples getting married Andrew Body, for kindly writing this article for our website.