Having kids is just the best.
Before we start, let me say that I currently have 3 kids: Kid 1 is almost 6, Kid 2 is 4, and Kid 3 is 6 months. Parenting has many different seasons that are all different in important ways. Parenting is the best thing I've ever done. My kids are amazing. They are creative, spontaneous, loving, and JUST SO GREAT. People need to hear how awesome having kids really is. It's totally hilarious.
There are a few things I didn't know before I had kids. Here are some of them:
1. What tiredness is.
When I was in college, I remember thinking how I was SO busy, and there was no way that I would make it because of all the responsibilities I had. If I absolutely needed to, I could pull an all-nighter to study or get some project done. The next day/days were filled with sleeping in til noon or later and talking about my one night of hard work like I was some kind of super student or something. I look back now and wonder what I did with all my time.
Having kids ushered in a whole new understanding of just how much I could do on 3-4 hours of sleep a night, like, every day. Kids have no "off". You might think "They had a late night. Perhaps they'll sleep in." Nope.
Now, having kids doesn't mean a life sentence of 3-4 hours of sleep a night, but they do happen with more frequency than you might think.
This is a great opportunity to rely on God's strength, grace, and mercy in your life. Some days, there's nothing you can do but say, "God, I have no idea how this is going to work today. Give me strength to be a good parent to these monkeys." Which, as it turns out, is not the worst place to be. (2 Corinthians 12:9 says "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.")
2. How little I know about myself.
Parenting will show you parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Some are good, some not so much. It truly is a furnace that can allow the Holy Spirit to burn away the impurities and selfish motives of your heart, if you let it.
3. How little I know about anything.
The thought that I am trusted and expected to raise a baby into a fully functioning, schedule keeping, polite, God fearing, other people centered, self regulating person is really mind-boggling. I remember walking through the door of our house with our first kid, setting the car seat down on the floor, and saying to my wife, "Well, what in the world are we supposed to do now?"
This is where community has been SO important in our lives as parents. Once I admit that I really don't know how to do this, I can reach out to those who have more experience, and get the help that I need. If that's you today, know that there are people that have walked this road before, and can give you the advice and encouragement you need, if you're willing to ask.
4. How demanding parenting is.
No Christmas break, no summers off, no sick days (unless you actually are sick, in which case, you still have to take care of your kids). Parenting is not for the weak. Parenting will take any selfishness inside of you and smash it to little, tiny, cracker crumb covered pieces.
Again, a good support system is crucial. Find people that have gone before you (and survived), as well as those who are walking along side you that can encourage you along the way.
5. What a rock star my wife is.
Parenting will not only show you a side of yourself that you didn't know existed, it will reveal things about your spouse that you never knew were there. I'm SO thankful that God's plan for parenting was meant to be in the context of marriage and community. I've learned so much about how caring, considerate, unselfish, nurturing, and generally incredible my wife is in this process of having and raising kids.
6 (BONUS!). How totally amazing having kids would be.
The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 that "Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord." In the middle of late night feedings, bed wettings, diaper changes, crackers ground into the couch, bathroom breaks, and all the other chaos that comes with having kids, this verse is an anchor. Having kids is one of the hardest, most challenging, frustrating, best, life-giving, incredible things that a person can do. It's an adventure. I've never prayed so much, and laughed so hard in my life.
Parents, especially parents of little ones, you can do it! Take heart that this season, the bleary eyed, coffee guzzling, diaper changing, sleep training, car seat toting season, is short. I've heard that it's something that we'll miss someday. Let God speak to you as you seek Him. Reach out to those who can help and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
Also, check out the series "Losing Your Marbles" from Evangel. Seriously some of the best parenting messages I've heard.