For my daughter Audrey’s first birthday, my wife and I planned to have a small celebration with a few friends and family members at home; instead we ended up with a cupcake-themed extravaganza at the restaurant her grandparents manage. Admittedly, it was probably more for everyone else’s benefit. Audrey spent much of the time observing the proceedings warily from the safety of someone’s arms and flatly refused to pose for photos by her lone candle, despite (or because of) much encouragement to do so.

People talk about how fast time flies, and I feel it really does. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older. When I was a child, days, weeks, and months—not to mention years—seemed to pass so slowly; now it seems like only a few weeks ago that I first met Audrey. I remember that day so well, along with all my first impressions and emotions as I watched the nurse give Audrey her first bath, and then her falling asleep in my arms for the first time.

Before she was born, I often heard parents talk about the joys of having children, but I wasn’t convinced. I believed those parents truly thought they were happy, but I didn’t understand how. Weren’t their lives more stressful, tiring, and hectic than before? Didn’t they have less free time? Weren’t they embarrassed by their children turning over a plate of food, frazzled by their children’s whininess when they were tired, annoyed by their clinginess or repeated petty disobediences? I was sure I would be. While I enjoyed being around other people’s children, I felt I valued my time and comfort too much to ever have any of my own.

Now however, I can’t imagine my life without Audrey. Every smile, every peal of laughter, every new discovery she makes, every new toy she masters, every animal sound she learns fills me with deep happiness and gratitude for her presence in my life. Her latest discovery is that a piercing shriek is an effective way to get my attention when she wants me to play with her or read her a book, but even that doesn’t take away from the love I feel for her or the happiness she brings.

One would think that our heavenly Father would be embarrassed by our lack of wisdom, frazzled by our constant need for Him, and annoyed at our limitations. But God never gets fed up with us or tires of having us around.