The Reward of Family

Here is another excerpt from the book I'm helping R.D. with, The Greatest Adventure I Never Dreamed Of."

We were not supposed to be able to have children. So after twelve years of childless marriage, I was astonished to find out Elaine was pregnant. I wondered why she was pregnant after all these years? WHY? And who was I asking “why,” anyway?

Elaine asked for a year leave of absence from her job as a teacher. I couldn’t wait for the year to be up so we would have two salaries again. We had just built a new home and this pregnancy was not convenient for our budget. It was critical for her to begin work again to support our lifestyle. A friend of mine asked me if Elaine was going to stay home when the child was born. I said “NO! She will work like everyone else. We have a house to pay for and a life style we like.” In my mind, our new baby was destined for the world of daycare.

I was there when the baby was born. I went through all the birth training, but I was not really prepared for what I experienced. I was not prepared to see the extreme effort of my wife through thirteen hours of labor. I was not prepared to see the wet wiggling babe being place at her breast moments after birth. It gave me a picture of love I had never before seen. At the moment of birth, I was changed for the second time (the first was the brilliance of the created beauty of my first brown trout). I knew that there was something greater than man. I remember the sweat on her brow and the tired look to her features. More than anything else, I saw a depth of caring and joy in her eyes that I had never before seen, or even thought possible. This was a new thing for me, and it changed me on the inside. I was changed by the deep, unconditional devotion that I saw in a mother’s eyes for her firstborn child. I saw a mother’s love.

There was something about this experience that was supernatural to me. How could a man and woman come together in marriage, love, and passion and make a baby like this? This little wiggling boy was a part of me. As I stood for the first time with my son Tanner in my hands, I knew that there was a greater good. I actually saw creation. I did not just feel love, I saw it.  For a moment, my personal desires and knowledge were neutral and I could see beyond myself. I knew there had to be a Creator.

After we took Tanner home with us, I continued to be stirred by Elaine’s gentle love for our son. Her commitment to meet his needs never faltered under the extreme, unending demands this little person placed on her. Despite (or maybe because of) these new responsibilities, she was more content and at peace than I had ever seen her. My love for her and this tiny person began to grow. I was beginning to see that life could be, and maybe should be, about more than me.

One day, as the time drew near for Elaine to go back to work, I was walking through our home when she reached out, took my hand, and got down on her knees. I was confused and my first thought was, “What in the world is this woman doing?” She looked up into my face and I saw great tears forming in her eyes. With a trembling voice, she said, “I will do anything in this world if you will let me stay home and raise our son.”  Now with tears streaming down her face she begged, “Please, please, please.” Then, for the third time in my life, I was changed on the inside. It felt as if an arrow pierced my heart and soul. It was the deep, penetrating sense of her love for Tanner. Never before had I seen this kind of passion from any person about anything. Unknowingly, she had just discovered the greatest calling in her life—being a mother.

So we sold the new house. I left the job I loved more than anything in the world to run a business that I thought would provide more than a teachers pay. I didn’t know anything about that business and soon found that I hated it. So I sold it and bought a second business I knew nothing about. The second business was a little less stressful, but still very demanding. The rewards of changing my job were great. They were not financial rewards, though; they were much more important than that. My reward was my family.