It’s only been five months now, but I’ve honestly loved the infant stage of being a dad. Of course, I look forward to the days with no more dirty diapers and the freedom to tell my child to go back to sleep, but there’s something beautiful about this infant stage of innocence that I don’t want to neglect to appreciate.
We work from home, so last week, Kaitlyn and I had a grand plan of finishing up work early and then taking the baby to the pool (and maybe ice cream for us). In Kaitlyn’s words, “I was looking forward to it all day!” Well, long story short, we finished up work around 3:30, fed the baby after his nap, then hopped into the car with our eyes on the prize. But as we pulled into the parking lot and approached the entrance, we began to sense that our plan was too good to be true. As we walked up, several groups of teenagers and their parents passed us walking to their cars, discussing where they would be meeting up for dinner later. This sounded all too familiar to the inner-high school-swim team Kaitlyn and could only mean one thing: swim meet, aka, pool closed!
The receptionist broke the news to us gently, and our tears started to roll. Kidding. But seriously. Why us!?! Why today!?! So we packed the car back up with the dozen bags we seemingly always travel with now and headed to Target (because we couldn’t let the whole outing be a wash). And as we were on our way, it occurred to me: Ollie, our infant, couldn’t care less about what had just happened. In fact, he was still just as content as he would have been if we’d just stayed home, and he still cared about all the same things: eating, pooping, and hanging out with mama and papa (that’s what we go by). He was clueless to what “disappointment” felt like.
Our Target outing still turned out to be the sought-after family time we’d hoped for. We made a few much needed baby purchases, picked up some office supplies, and of course, grabbed ice cream on the way home. Altogether, success! But once we got back home, I began thinking more about our disappointing trip to the pool. I thought about mine and Kaitlyn’s reactions versus Ollie’s. We saw disappointment and an entire afternoon ruined while Ollie saw, well, nothing. And then I realized what a sweet, precious, stage of life this infant stage is. I don’t mean for a parent but rather as a condition in and of itself. I realized that, although I know he won’t be in this stage much longer, I want to be more like my little guy. I need to be more like him. I want to be unfazed by a sudden change of plans and remain steadfast in the midst of difficulty. I want to care about spending time with loved ones more than things working out perfectly. I want to be content when everything else is telling me otherwise.
As a parent, my expectations have certainly changed. Now, “success” might mean that we ate something other than frozen pizza for dinner last night rather than cooking that new recipe or that we simply made it in and out of Target without having a baby meltdown. But even in the midst of adjusting my expectations, I’m still so nearsighted. I’m far too fixated on momentary inconvenience and neglect to enjoy what’s important. Can anyone else relate?
Like I said, it’s only been a short five months, but I want to spend the next five being more present. I want to embrace living in the “now” and reject the temptation to be upset when the pool closes unexpectedly. I want to remember who and what is important and live more presently.