The Meaning of Children

This wonderful series is on the gifts our children give us when we pay attention. Writers include Sarah Bessey, Micah Murray, Grace Green, Tamara Lunardo, Laura Fanucci, and more. 

Do you ever watch your children?

Not just in terms of being the primary care-giver or baby-sitting. And making sure they stay away from the knives and chemicals. I mean, really, seriously, sit and watch them. Watch them not only out of some obligation to duty or responsibility. Watch them not only for the sake of managing those conflicts that flare up at a moment’s notice. Watch them. Their mannerisms. Their quirks. Their little twitches. Their hands. Their eyes.

I remember during the early throes of parenthood with the twins long before Ozzie was a twinkle in anyone’s eye (and by twinkle, I mean a stabbing and gouging of one’s whole universe) – that a book gently admonished me to really watch the children. Follow them. Observe them. Contemplate them. And so I did, and all I noticed was inordinate amounts of slobber and drool and tears. An endless trail of discarded toys. Soiled cloth diapers that went on for eternity.

But then I saw the way Desmond would drop off to sleep after a few bounces in his seat while Anna would squeal and flail her arms making little fists as though she were clutching her excitement. I saw the way Anna would twirl the tips of her fingers in her hair as she got sleepy – and still to this day it’s a sign that she’s finally tiring out. I saw how Desmond would pound with both hands – huge hands like a large breed puppy – on anything and everything to get a sense of how much strength he would need to use to bend it to his will. I saw Anna’s eyes brighten with every tickle bug (our kisses and fingers) that nipped at her toes, her neck, her belly. I saw Desmond’s face serious and determined as he made to walk towards us those first few times. I watched Desmond always mouth every new thing immediately, as if tasting it would give him the best sense of the object, while Anna would always use her little fingers to delicately turn, turn, turn it around and examine it with her an intense gaze cataloguing, sorting, classifying it in her brain.

Looking at these little universes now I realize I can hardly begin to fathom their depths, their galaxies, their light. And I wonder to myself: What is the meaning of children? Why do we have them? Why are they here? There are days I spiral down into a little bit of an abyss when it comes to the children and their almost manic moods – it feels like no matter how hard I’m trying to make sure everyone is appeased it feels like everything quickly slides into frustration and agony. Then I can’t wait for them to go to bed. I keep thinking – this really isn’t the way it’s supposed to be…is it??? And so I need words. I need stories. I need perspective. And I kind of wonder if anyone else in my little world could use them, too.

May holds the day that South Korea celebrates its children. There’s Parents’ Day and Children’s Day in sequence, so it seems fitting to host this series on children now – the theological, spiritual, physical, emotional, whatever. Because there’s been a wonderful response we will go into June. We’ll hear from numerous folks in various walks of life – stories about what having children means to them. Stories about what being a parent means to them. Stories about how having children has changed them – for the better or worse. Stories about what you think the point of all of it is – for the sake of all our sanity.

Not just ruminating on parenting and parenting practices – although I’m sure that will come out, too – but hopefully a place and time to dialgoue about what our children are helping us to see everyday.


Receiving by Sarah Bessey
Lighten Up by Christine Gough
To Them by Micah Murray
Deliberate Seasons by Kelly Shriver
Jump, Jump by Grace Green
Continuous Change by Lisa Kort-Butler
My Wild Girl by Esther Emery
What It Means When I Have My Kids by Tamara Lunardo
My Dirty, Little Secret by Ashley Hales
World-Changing by Ryan Koch
Caring in the Spaces Between by Phil Helsel
When We Do It Wrong by Traci Smith
Letter to Jonathan by Larissa Kwong Abazia
We Have Rain by Breanne D’Ambrosio
What Do You See? by Anna Ross Bruce
You Suck by Katie Mulligan
Little Bearers by Melissa Muezelaar
Blessed in the Mess by Rachel Gerber
Later by Mark Koenig
Occupational Therapy by April Berends
Bad News by Rocky Supinger
Father of Three by Adam Walker Cleveland
Intimacy by April Hennessey
In Our Image by Matt Gough
Everything Wrong by Laura Kelly Fanucci
Guests by Stina Busman Jost
Paradoxes by Ed Cyzewski