By Nicholas Khoo, Living Ark
My wife, Amanda, and I got married in June 2017, and we found out we were expecting a child in late 2018. For us, that was when our parenthood journey started.
Although we were planning for a child around that time, I couldn’t help but encounter a multitude of worries and fears amidst our excitement – “Is the baby going to be normal? Would the baby survive through the pregnancy? Will I be a good dad?”. These worries never left me throughout the pregnancy, though I realised that these worries were a result of the love I had for this child even before I had seen him. Suddenly, the conception of my child gave me a glimpse into the heart of the Lord when He said “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Of course, I could not love my child before he was formed in the womb, but the love that I felt for him by just knowing of his existence gave me a deeper assurance of the Father’s love for us.
When we were choosing the name of our son, we were faced with the recurring theme of the story of Abraham sacrificing his son in scripture reflections and during mass. We hence decided to name our son ‘Isaac’, to remind ourselves that he does not belong to us but instead has been gifted to us from God.
Nicholas, Amanda, and God’s gift to them – Issac
After Isaac was born, our lives totally changed. The dynamics in our relationship was no longer about planning dates and meeting friends and family, but instead every decision we made daily revolved around Isaac. In the early days, the lack of sleep and constant feeding, washing, changing of diapers, took a toll on us. However, every moment we spent with him was still so sweet and joyful just seeing him grow up well. In the first few months, a bulk of the challenges we faced were really mostly physical, as we spent most of our energy caring for little Isaac daily.
A few months after Isaac was born, we moved overseas for half a year as I had to complete a semester there for my postgraduate studies. In the months leading up to the trip, I faced immense stress juggling the preparations to move and family life. I questioned myself if we started a family too soon and worried constantly if things were going to be alright for us. The half a year we spent overseas turned out to be such a blessing in our relationship. Being alone in a foreign land with a baby in tow, we didn’t travel as much as we had hoped to but as a result, we spent so much quality time together as a family. I felt silly for worrying so much and not trusting God to know better than I.
I faced my biggest struggle when we returned back to Singapore. Coming home, I found myself struggling with the various demands on our time such as visiting our parents and meeting friends again. I found myself wanting to possess my son and my wife, and not wanting to give up any of that quality time we shared overseas. Furthermore, I found myself losing control of how I would like to spend my time with my family, and how I would like my son to be cared for. As my son grew older, he also started getting more clingy to Amanda, and I often felt left out and saddened that she was usually the preferred parent.
One day in my prayers, I encountered a prompting from God reminding me the reason that we named our son ‘Isaac’ and that I was not to keep this gift to myself, but to share him with others as well. I was also directed to take inspiration from St Joseph and his role in the Holy Family, through some of the sessions with my community, Living Ark. I realised that I had been seeking affirmation from my son for my love for him, while I should have been seeking to love him unconditionally in a true and authentic way. Through these struggles and revelations, I had received the message that Jesus was helping me to purify my love for my family by dying to myself again and again.
Through the journey of fatherhood, I am now able to relate better to the Father’s love for us. In this journey, every challenge faced has turned out to be a necessary process for God to expand my heart more. Despite the struggles faced in this vocation, there is not a day that I regret becoming a father, and I would say yes over again even if I knew that it was going to be 10 times harder. The reason? Love.
Every vocation is a deeper invitation for Love. Will you also say yes to God’s call for you to grow in Love?