Becoming parents

May 1, 2017 - 12:00am -- Living City

Becoming parents​
A shared sacrifice of love

By John and Rebecca Mullins

We married young and full of joy, promising in our vows to accept children lovingly from God. When the time came, we embraced it despite many uncertainties about how we would succeed as a family.

Three years in, we have been blessed with two beautiful little girls: Chiara who is two and Isabella, a few months old. They are gifts! And they have changed us too.

As a family, we try to stay open to others and their needs. We really move as a single unit. When we’re together we all relate to those around us in different ways, but with the same spirit of love.

John enjoys engaging in involved discourse and learning about the perspectives and passions of others. Rebecca is a caring and constant friend. Chiara loves by sharing, playing and laughing with those around her. We seek to build community and understanding. Even little Bella, who just learned to roll over, enjoys interacting with others and brings joy with animated smiles and coos.


John: Even with the beauty of it, becoming a father is the hardest thing I have ever done. When I found out we were pregnant, I worked all day with a smile on my face. But I was worried. I wasn’t sure that I could love another person the way I love Rebecca. In the end it was very natural, because the heart expands to embrace little lives.

One of my favorite memories is taking my daughter Chiara out onto the porch each day to watch the spring buds grow. We shared the hushed morning air together while her eyes adjusted to take in the color green.

I had a job, but the weight and stress of providing weighed heavily on me. My capacity to deliver value had to increase rapidly. I studied more, and I pursued every job opportunity with zeal until I landed my first full-time job. Before children, I had greater independence, more time and attention from my wife, more disposable income. Now the personal return feels less.

Our openness to life was made in faith, and at times when life has not felt like “life abundant” (Jn 10:10), I’ve had times of bitterness towards God.

But ultimately I believe I have become a more complete version of myself. My capacity to love and serve, to focus and deliver, have all grown. My prayer life and my understanding of God as “father” has also grown.


Rebecca: I never thought of myself as a selfish person, but you have to sacrifice so much more when you have a child. Caring for human beings that can’t do anything for themselves made me re-learn to put someone else first.

In a marriage, your spouse is not dependent on you; your children truly are. I try to see each sacrifice as a gift of love for their good. In this way, I have felt my capacity for love grow day by day. So I think being a mother has helped me become a better wife as well.


John: Has becoming parents changed the way we see the world? Yes! I have gained a greater respect for single parents. Rebecca and I have two educations, two earning potentials and 48 hours in a day between us. We can “tag out” for a few minutes and let the other one entertain the kids. We have two extended families who support us. More than ever, I feel it is important to support parents who courageously raise children on their own.


Rebecca: You rediscover the whole world through a child’s eyes. Everything is a miracle to her.

We were visiting an ice sculpture festival. While we struggled to find inspiring art, Chiara was enchanted with the pitter-patter of water spilling from a drain. Your senses are heightened, both to dangers and wonders, and you learn to appreciate life again.


Rebecca and John: Finding time to be alone together is still a challenge — and needed! It helps us remember that original spark of why we set out to build a family in the first place. Like the love between God the Father and the Son was overflowing, a marriage also flows out into a shared creation, and in caring for that creation. Without new life, our love could grow stale and self-absorbed.

Sometimes it is necessary to draw away, to set aside the responsibilities of parenting and work, and to identify with the other, valuable in their own right and not simply for the roles they fill within the family. Then we can return to our roles with renewed clarity of purpose and a shared joy between us, having rebuilt trust, patience and communication.

Rebecca and John Mullins live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.