Eden Chen

Talitha is more resilient than me…

Eden Chen May 16, 2019

I’ve spent more time in the hospital the last 6 months with my daughter Talitha than I have combined my entire life. With Talitha’s 4th surgery, I realized that she was more resilient than Carolyn and I. As one pediatric oncologist I know said, typically kids with cancer are comforting their parents at the hospital, not the other way around. This made me think through where perseverance or grit comes from.

I’m no longer a child. I’m where the least gritty people seem to live. There’s a softening that comes along with privilege and expectation. Most of us that have not gone through a lot of suffering become more and more risk averse and seek comfort as we are conditioned to attribute more and more value to the easy things but that’s for another post.

I think there’s a lot more behind these words from Jesus than there is at face value:

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus talks about greatness, he flips the tables and talks about the humility of a child. I have never heard anyone make a connection between greatness and children, or greatness and humility. Greatness is typically associated with social impact at best, and flashy cars at worst.

I felt that this was all relevant in light of this week’s new numbers that show that birth rates have hit a 32 year low. There are a lot of positive reasons why this is happening, more education, more accessible birth control, the empowerment of women, falling teenage pregnancies, overpopulation concerns etc.

Most of the arguments that I’ve seen around the drop though seem to be economic: “it’s very expensive to raise children these days” or “there’s a lack of parental leave”. My mom told me that back when she was working, there was no such thing as paid maternity leave. She had to have my brother and I 4 years apart, so that she could save enough money over those 4 years to take one month of unpaid time off for her body to recover (where she burned through 4 years of savings). I don’t think the drop in birth rate has anything to do with economics, but is a societal shift in what people care about.

I feel almost guilty and certainly counter cultural in saying that I love being a dad. Having children has been the most miraculous thing that I’ve ever been a part of. I feel like I heard so many horror stories about losing sleep, lifestyle changing, not being able to focus on career etc. When I look into Talitha’s eyes, I see greatness.

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