Boy or girl, I hope for a greater joy - Jason Smith

People keep asking me, ever since I announced I was going to be a father, whether my wife and I want a girl or a boy. I go back and forth, in my mind, struggling to answer this question.

There are positive and wonderful aspects to both possibilities, of course, and I've had countless mental images running through my head in recent weeks, depicting either scenario.

I have no idea whether the baby growing in my wife's body right now is a boy or a girl, but we've had names picked out for most of our marriage, in anticipation of this time in our lives.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a little girl of my own, so she could be Daddy's little princess. I've had visions of a daughter playing with dolls, doing tea parties with her friends or participating in ballet recitals.

Certainly, if we have a girl, she may choose to be more of a tomboy, at which point I will, instead, be attending softball games and that kind of thing. I'll also do my best, along the way, to model what a good man should be, in preparation for when she starts looking for love.

Yes, having a little girl of my own would be an amazing experience. However, the concept of having a little boy appeals to me more and more. I'm not the most athletic guy, and never have been, but I can give it my best shot by taking time to teach my son what few sports I know, or simply watch them with him.

Then again, he may be like I was in my younger days, and not have the desire or ability to excel athletically. Regardless, I can attempt to show him, as he gets older, how to treat women with respect and care.

More importantly, I want to show him how to be a good Christian leader of his home, when he grows up.

My wife has asked me numerous times, as of late, whether I want a boy or a girl. I keep telling her I simply want a healthy child. I was born with a condition which created struggles for me, health-wise, during my childhood, and I don't want my child to go through those same things.

Still, my main concern is not whether I have a boy or a girl, a princess or a tomboy, a sports fanatic or an academic whiz. What I want most for my child, is for him or her to grow up to be a child of God.

I want to teach my child what it means to be a Christian, and I want him or her to learn from my example. Even as I write these words, I'm increasingly convicted of how short I fall in being the person God has called me to be, for His glory and the good of my baby.

I want to be the father my children need, and to enjoy as much quality time with them as I can.

Still, it doesn't matter how many tea parties I participate in with my daughter, or how many football games I watch with my son, if I neglect my child's spiritual well-being.

It seems to me that I have a lot of improvements to make in my walk with God, both before my child arrives and afterward, regardless of whether we end up putting a blue or pink ribbon on our mailbox in a few months.

This is because, even now, my heart echoes the biblical words in III John 4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.