Yousef and I have experienced a newfound appreciation and respect for teen moms and dads these last 3 and a half weeks. Holding our very own child has not only opened up a part of our hearts we didn’t even know existed towards our own firstborn, but also towards the teen parents that YoungLives is all about.
People told us parenting would be hard. They told us that the first month, even first year, could be the hardest thing our marriage would endure… but nothing could have prepared us for what it would really be like. Nothing could prepare us for the tears of joy and awe when we first laid eyes on him. Nothing could prepare me for the way that his cries instantly ceased when they put him on my chest seconds after being born- the way that he knew me as mama. Nothing could prepare us for the excitement every time he does something new- from smiling, to peeing on us for the first time, to grabbing a hold of our finger. Nothing could prepare us for what they all meant when they said it would be hard- the exhaustion, the tears, the difficult feedings, and not being able to quiet his cries.
To all the mothers that did it on their own- we are amazed by you. Not only did you endure all of this, but you gave up your own teenage life to care for your little one. You stayed up all night countless times and still went to school the next morning. You fed, clothed, and bathed your child and still managed to work, be there for friends and family, and so much more.
To all the fathers that stuck around- we are so glad that you did. You stood by her even when it was rough. There were ups and downs- and there still are today- but seeing your child, a piece of you, smile back at you makes it all worth it. Not all boys that have children choose to be fathers, but you did.
I can’t help but see a glimpse of Jesus in all of this. Watching the incredible sacrifice it takes for my young friends to be parents- they literally lay down their own lives every single day for their children. That is a beautiful picture of love. But even more so a glimpse of how Jesus loves us. That he would lay down his life for us, his children.
So today we dressed Elijah in a Young Life Shirt. We are so excited that he gets to be a part of this ministry where so many come around and support teenagers that are doing one of the hardest things that I myself have experienced- being a parent. Elijah gets to grow up knowing some of the bravest young people I have known and look up to an amazing community that surrounds them. As we spend these weeks cuddling with our little guy we look forward to being back with everyone in a few weeks. I could not be more sure that there is nothing else I would rather do than walk alongside these young mothers, fathers and their children. You all amaze me.-Myrna and Yousef Bittar