When the noise woke me up the first thing I did was look at my alarm clock. It said 3:50. That’s 3:50 in the morning. Next, I scanned the dark room to figure out what made the noise. It didn’t take me long to find it.
Another human being was standing over me, right next to my bed.
“Dad, I had a bad dream.”
I cleared my head and reached out for my son to pray with him. We always pray together when he has a bad dream. Then I told him that it was time to go to bed. He led the way through our dark house back towards his room, stopping every few feet to make sure that I was still with him.
I stopped him in the kitchen where I gave him a piece of watermelon and a drink of water. After going to the restroom, he crawled back into bed and under his covers where I kissed him and told him goodnight.
By this time it was 4:00. That’s 4:00 in the morning. I had to be up in an hour or so but, as is usually the case, there was no way I was falling back asleep. I was already up.
As I laid in bed, trying to go back to sleep, I thought about Time Magazine.
A recent Time Magazine cover has a picture of a man and a woman blissfully laying on the beach under large, bold print.
THE CHILDFREE LIFE: When having it all means not having children
The issue is full of stories about how “deciding not to have children is like saying one big no and a million little yeses,” or how fulfilling life can be without kids. The point of the issue is clear, more and more American couples aren’t having children. Not because of infertility or some other painful reason. They’re not having kids so that they can have the time of their lives.
But as I was in bed, trying to go back to sleep, I couldn’t help but think of all that those couples are missing out on.
Like the joy of being there for your four-year-old when he’s scared to death. Scared enough to get out of his own bed, walk across a dark house, and come to you.
Or the sound of his smacking lips as he demolishes a watermelon on his way back to bed.
And the effort he puts into making sure that he remembers to put the seat down and flush when he’s done using the restroom.
It’s been seven or eight years since it was just me and my wife on the beach. Now, we’re the tragically uncool couple you see on the beach carrying floaties, a cooler and a tent while trying to keep up with our two kids.
And for most of those seven years, I’ve had dark circles under my eyes because I just couldn’t go back to sleep at 4:00.
That’s 4:00 in the morning.
But my wife and I are doing just fine.
In fact, we’re having the time of our lives.