The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John.”…Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.” – Luke 1:13, 18
There is a phenomenon in my family tree.
My grandfather was 56 when my father was born. My father was 49 when I was born. I was 42 when my son was born. (Following this math, my son will be 35 when he becomes a daddy.)
In other words, we were each old enough to be grandfathers when we became the father of a newborn.
I don’t understand how this quirk happened.
There’s a profound blessing, though, in being a parent later in life.
In a scene from the TV program Modern Family, 65 year-old Jay is going to be a father again. Some family members are nervous about telling him the news. Instead, he responds that it’s the greatest day in his life. Why? His retired friends were painting a sedentary, boring picture of retirement. Now he can live for the future. He’s energized, excited, exuberant.
That’s what a baby does. The child reflects innocence, wonder, possibility, beauty. The child calls for a response from parents that include patience, energy, sacrifice, compassion, creativity. Above all, children symbolize hope for the world and invite parents to join them in living into that hope.
Children remind us that our life lies ahead of us. We’re all parents, regardless of biology. We all have a calling to leave this world a better place for them in some small way.
Will they remember that we grew older complaining about things?
Or will they remember that the older we got, the more loving we became?