Most people think they know what it’s like to have love in their lives—until they have a child. Then they realize that they never had this kind of love! Your love for your child is unique and distinct from any other love you’ll ever experience.
You’ll Receive Unconditional Love: Love without conditions is a rarity. If you’re religious, you know that God loves you unconditionally. Hopefully your parents do. Your spouse . . . well, you’re not always convinced that you merit his or her unconditional love! But the love of a child certainly falls into this category. Children are programmed to love their parents. It is a bond like no other. They just love you, no matter what. Certainly, you’re by no means perfect. Perhaps you’re a terrible cook or a mediocre golfer, and have cellulite on your thighs and no patience for heavy traffic. But none of those things matter to your child. She loves you in spite of your imperfections.
You’ll Become a More Compassionate and Loving Person: A baby who has bonded with his parents learns to need them, to want them, to love them. To feel this love, to be loved so completely, teaches you the "feel" of love. Feeling loved can open your heart to caring deeply about the well-being of others and to feeling compassionate toward them. In wanting to do all you can to ensure the protection of the helpless little being in your own household, you’ll find yourself aching for others who don’t have the same protection. Pictures of impoverished children will remind you that it could have been your child’s fate—and you’ll be more motivated than ever to do something about it.
Your Love for Your Partner Will Grow: You and your spouse now share something that no two other people will ever share—your child. And you both love your child with all your hearts. By witnessing the love your partner has for your baby, you’ll grow to love him or her even more. You will love the way he or she plays with your child or changes his diapers—for reasons you would have found totally unromantic before you had the baby. Whereas before it was "He has a cute butt!" or "He dresses nicely," now it’s "He doesn’t freak out over spit-up on his tie" and "He always makes sure we have formula in the house." Now that’s sexy! The love and tenderness that a parent shows for a child are unbelievably appealing. What man hasn’t melted at the sight of the mother of his baby lulling her to sleep in a rocking chair? It is total gratitude and love for the life you created together.
You’ll Share a Common Bond with Other Mothers: At no time will you feel more a part of the "sisterhood of women" than when you become a parent. If you’re a new mother, you suddenly feel a connection with other women. You cherish your special place in the world as the bearer of new life. You feel a bond with women who have tried to make the world safer for your child by working to end world hunger, war, or drunken driving. You feel proud to be a woman.
You’ll Love the Little Things in Life: If you were always hurrying through life before, being a parent forces you to slow down, literally and figuratively. When it takes half an hour to walk to the park because your little one keeps stopping to examine every rock and bug along the way, you’ll learn the meaning of patience, for sure. But you’ll also gain a new appreciation for the little things in life. Just hearing your child laugh at a silly story or ooh and ahh over bubbles floating through the air will make you appreciate these simple pleasures. When your little one gets all excited over the train whizzing by, you’ll see it not as an inconvenience that forces you to stop, but as a wonderful new sight and sound for your growing child. You’ll be amazed at how excited you’ll suddenly feel about M&Ms, dandelions, and worms; your child will introduce you to a whole new world of wonder! When you look back on your son’s or daughter’s childhood some day, you won’t remember the fancy clothes they had or the expensive car seat you bought. You’ll remember the sweet poem he wrote on your Valentine or the time she wanted to save the life of the spider in her room. These are the things that will matter most to you.
Parenting is the greatest textbook for Love 101. It will teach you the true meaning of love. It will show you the pleasures of love, and it will bring a love into your life that can never be taken away. You’ll become an expert in love from the time you hold your firstborn in your arms. Shower your child with love and feel it returned tenfold. Having a child will show you the way. Your life will be blessed.
Adapted from my book, Oh, Baby! 7 Ways a Baby Will Change Your Life the First Year. Copyright ©2006.