A Brief Attempt to Describe My Love for My Nine Month Old Daughter
My wife and I are writing in one of those baby memory books, chronicling the growth of our nine month old daughter in her first year and beyond. This is my response to the prompt, “Describe the love you feel for your baby.”
How strange to be asked to describe my love for you, Annie. For starters, how does a person describe love? The obvious thing to do would be to talk about how you make me feel, how my heart jumps out of my chest when you smile or laugh, how it sinks when you cry, melts when you say “dada”, how no matter what you’re going through I have a deep, unconditional affection for you.
But love is so much more than a mere feeling. Such an answer seems like a cop out, and that in spite of the question’s apparent attempt to bait me into such a response. Here are three other ways to think about love, all of which I take to be deeper and more substantial than some cheap and fickle feeling, and how they relate to my love for you.
First, love is a commitment, a promise. The most obvious example of love as a promise is a wedding - like the promises I made to God and to your mother the day I married her almost four years ago. In a way, that promise extends to you as the third member of this family that she and I formed that day. As your father, I’m deeply committed to doing my best to promote your flourishing and to help you to become the person God created you to be.
Second, love requires sacrifice. I’ve sacrificed some sleep, a lot of free time, and a number of other things. What I don’t quite know is what sacrifices will be required down the line. But what I do know is that I am in this with you and for you, for the long haul. Your mother and I will do what needs to be done to promote your well being. Of course that doesn’t mean you’ll get everything you want. It does mean I will do my best to make sure you always have what you need.
Finally, love is a virtue. Virtues aren’t the kinds of things you can gain completely in a day, a month, or a year. Virtues are excellences of character that take growing into. Annie, I have loved you since before I met you. And, by grace, I am growing into that father’s love for you. And, by the Father’s grace, my life loving you will teach me in more ways than I can imagine how to love others better: your mama, our neighbors, our enemies, our God. Thank you.
I love you.