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Intersection of Life and Faith

Difficult Decisions

  • Kate Kuo Mother in the trenches
  • 2001 10 Oct
  • COMMENTS
Difficult Decisions
The other night I watched the movie Big and as always, it was a pleasure to watch. I enjoyed Tom Hanks' performance for the hundredth time because he so accurately portrays 13-year-old boyhood. In the movie, Hanks' character, Josh, is transformed into an adult when he wishes to be "big." Toward the end of the movie, Josh the adult visits his old neighborhood and watches kids playing. Later on, when he explains to his adult girlfriend who he is and how desperately he wants to go home, he tells her she can join him. At this, she kindly but firmly says, "No, I've been there and it was hard enough the first time."

With this, Big summed up an important attitude change that has been taking place within me. I've come to realize that everyone has one chance to be a child and that childhood is only possible when your parents act like adults. Parents have to give of themselves and sacrifice some of their own desires so their children can be children. We have all heard heartbreaking stories of children forced to grow up too quickly. But I always thought having a good marriage and leading a moral life would make me a good parent.

I realize that there is more to providing a good childhood for Lydia. There is sacrifice. There is realizing that to provide the stable and nurturing environment she needs, I must forgo doing things that interest me. No, I'm not talking about working outside the home; there's more to it than that.

For example, I spent Labor Day weekend at home with Lydia while my husband attended his sister's wedding. From the day we knew Verna was engaged I said we'd be there. This was no small commitment because Verna lives across the country from us. At the time, I also knew we'd have a baby with us, but I'd decided that having a baby wasn't going to slow us down. Besides, weddings are major life events and are simply mandatory, especially when they involve family.

But, in the last two months, both Lydia and I have grown up a lot. Lydia no longer sleeps anywhere and everywhere. Suddenly she has a distinct schedule that provides her with boundaries and a sense of security. Now that she's so curious about the world and eager to play, I often must turn her head to my breast to remind her she's hungry and needs to finish nursing. She not only sleeps at set times, she eats three solid meals a day at the same time every day, regardless of any changes to her schedule. All of this means she's no longer the easy traveler she once was. Which is why I began to question my decision.

As the wedding drew nearer, I thought more and more about its impact on Lydia. We'd only be gone for the weekend, just long enough to completely upset her schedule. It would be very difficult to fit in her two-hour naps twice a day, and feeding her solids at the appointed times would be next to impossible, especially since we would cross two time zones. We'd be traveling almost longer than we'd be in Tahoe, and once we got there, we'd be expected, understandably, to be social. And while Lydia is a very easy baby, she's becoming a child who cannot be reasonably expected to sit through an hour-long wedding or stay up for the evening reception.

So I found myself at the crossroads of putting my child first, before my sister-in-law, before the entire Kuo family, and before my own desires. As with many right decisions, it has not been easy. I still bear some guilt and wonder if Verna understands. She's a very compassionate person, but she is childless and a world traveler (after her wedding in Lake Tahoe, she returned to San Francisco for one day, only to hop on a plane the next day bound for Bali) and thus I can't expect her to relate to me and my situation. Plus, brides never question that close friends and family will attend their wedding -- it is a given. On top of this, I am lonely in a strange state where I have yet to meet many people and as far as stores go there is not even a Target around here. (I'd have to drive an hour to Birmingham although I live in Alabama's capital!) I would much rather have gone with Didi that weekend, spent time with his family, attended the wedding festivities and enjoyed beautiful Tahoe. But, this is a time when Lydia's needs must come first. She has just endured a move across four states and one time zone and is in need of continuing stability.

This was the first of many tough decisions involving Lydia. I hope that it will get easier as we go, but sacrifice is never easy. And so I rest in the comfort of knowing that sacrifice is what God requires of us, as Christians and as parents. And I trust that God will bless me for it, perhaps with greater character or better yet, with a child who will one day willingly sacrifice herself for Him and for others.