When our babies turn one we celebrate. We celebrate their smiles, their laughter, their little growing bodies and brains. For most of us, we celebrate good health: strong muscles, good eyesight, proper hearing. And subconsciously we think, “phew, my baby is normal.” He’s learning to talk, he’s trying to walk, and he’s making his way into toddlerhood just fine…
We wait for the next milestone to validate our little one’s progress: can he talk and be understood? Can he run and jump? Can he sit in a class filled with 10 other kids and follow directions? And we think, “phew, my child is smart.” He’s learning his colors and shapes, his letter recognition is coming along nicely, and he might just be making some friends…
It’s time for the little one to go to school – it’s a big deal. He’s leaving the nest and learning new skills, both social and academic. Your first conference with his teacher can’t come soon enough. Is he making the grade? How does he compare to the other kids? Does he have friends in the class? And we think, “phew, we are good parents.” He knows his letters, he’s counting to 10, and he’s playing nicely with the other kids…
I think about each passing milestone we’ve come to with our boys as a checkmark on the chore chart of life. We did it. We made it. What’s next?
I think about the fact that I expect to know what’s next – that my child will be healthy and smart. That’s he’ll make good grades, and have good friends, and play on the basketball team. That he’ll go to college, and get married, and have a family of his own. That he’ll have a good job, and grow old with his wife, and have grandchildren himself.
But it doesn’t always happen like that.
It doesn’t happen like that for a lot of families.
Our kids get sick. Our kids have struggles. Our kids have tragic, horrific accidents. We, ourselves, get sick, have struggles, and fall victim to tragic accidents.
I find myself thinking with my baby’s first birthday approaching that we are somehow “safe.” That we’ve cleared the danger zone from sickness, and that we’re safe from disease and disability. But we’re not. We’re so not. Our lives are not our plan. Our lives can change in an instant. We do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Hug your babies tonight. Thank God for every moment you spend with them. Each one is a gift.