The school of parenting never ends.

With my first child, I read everything I could get my hands on. I asked questions of every mom I knew. Eventually, I calmed down enough to take cues from my daughter. I watched her. I listened to her. I held her. And I learned from her. After all, I spent the most time with her—not the authors of all the books and articles I was reading—so it made sense that parenting became easier when I tuned in to her unique needs.

With my second child, a son, I’m learning all over again and allowing myself to savor this time as he grows. I’m calmer as a parent these days. I’m (hopefully) wiser. I’m more free to cherish the simple beauty of this time with my newborn son.

In between the diaper changes and feedings, the quick naps here and there, the constant battles with my toddler about poking her brother, and the multiple spit-ups throughout the day, I’ve been feeling more attuned to what my son is teaching me. This has allowed me to be more open to the spiritual lessons God is showing me through my son. Here are three I’ve learned with my second child that may be of use to you.

The power of trusting God in the darkness

Three in the morning seems to be a popular time for newborns and their parents. When my son wakes hungry, I feed him. As he snuggles close to my body with only the light of the moon, I give thanks for this time. I know from experience that it’s only a season for us, that soon enough he won’t need to be fed in the middle of the night.

During those nighttime feedings I’m reminded of all the others who are awake throughout the night, for those whose waking is not just a season: the family who is homeless; the cancer patient unable to sleep; the student who is bullied and afraid to go to school; the family grieving the loss of a loved one. At 3 a.m. we’re all awake, and we’re all connected under the same moon, by the light that shines for us—God’s light. Thanks to my son, I’m learning to trust the dark and to not be fearful, to remember that we can find one another as we look toward the light.

At 3 a.m. we’re all awake, and we’re all connected under the same moon, by the light that shines for us—God’s light.

The power of being held

There are times when my son only wants to be held. He’ll cry anytime you put him down. He wants to be near his parents. He wants comfort from warm hands. In those moments all I can do is pick him up and hold him. Whatever I think I need to do or get done can wait—my son demands my full attention.

How often do I only give half attention to others or the tasks I have at hand? I wish I could offer this same attention to others, to be fully present to them. Thanks to my son I’m learning about the power of being held and what it means to offer that same kind of comfort to others. And thanks to my son, I’m reminded that the cozy, safe feeling of being held is the same comfort God wants to give us, his children.

The power of rest

Newborns need to sleep! Their new world provides so much stimulation, sleep is essential to their development, giving their little bodies and minds time to grow. As parents, we try so hard to get our kids to sleep when they are fighting it. I know it’s necessary for my children, but I often find it hard to take that same advice and rest myself!

My world provides so much stimulation and so much that grabs for my attention. I’m constantly on the go. I’m constantly connected through social media. Like my newborn son, I need to rest. I need time for growth that can only come when I am still, when I’m listening for God’s voice.

As a parent of two, I’m finding that each day provides new lessons and insights. Each day provides more love. I give thanks for this time. For these children. And that God keeps showing up in our lives.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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