Learning Love in Parenthood
Jeff & Holly Earlson
We started 2017 knowing we were pregnant, but had no way to grasp what that would mean. We started the year with one definition of what love was and are ending it with another. With that in mind, this is what being new parents has meant for us and our understanding of love.
While it’s challenging to put into words, probably the biggest thing is starting to get a picture of how unconditional love feels. While we strive for unconditional love with each other and with family and friends, with our daughter it’s just so much more immediate and obvious. We grew to love each other and the people we know, but while we find new things about Kara to love each day — we’ve never not loved her.
Along with that new nature of love, we’ve begun to learn more about what love means with wanting the best for her. Wanting to share dreams and experiences we’ve enjoyed with her. And love is starting to mean trusting her with even the smallest things at first — that she can roll over or hold her head up or that she’ll let us know if she’s hungry.
One of the harder things is to keep loving her and each other when it gets difficult. Loving each other when we’ve not had much sleep or are exhausted from watching her all day, or when she’s been a total cranker all evening - it’s not easy and we don’t always do the best job of it.
We’ve also learned more about love in our relationship with each other; we get to find new things to love about each other as we watch each other try to be good parents, take care of her, and start to teach her about God. It’s loving each other when we give each other a break from a rough time with her, or help with a blowout, or taking a screaming baby at 2am so the other can sleep. In part of maintaining our love for each other, we let grandparents or friends spend some time with Kara so we make sure we don’t forget to love each other.
Lastly, and most striking for us, is how Love is carefree and unbound. Love causes us to dance around with her, sing ridiculous songs to her, make crazy faces, read books in silly voices, and praise her for every burp, toot, and facial expression. We let go of some of our own hangups and have fun with her no matter how silly we look in the process.
Reflecting on that, it makes us think more about our parents’ love for us, and God’s love for us. It helps make the frequent analogy of God’s love being like that of a parent all the more real to us and that much more meaningful. That God has never not loved us, that God wants the best for us, that God loves us through all of it.
Jeff and Holly have been together since 2013 and are head over heels in love with their three month old daughter, Kara, and with each other. They enjoy hiking, Netflix, and sleeping more than 6 hours at a time.