Oh, son. How did you get to be eight? I remember holding you in my arms as a tiny baby on this very night in the unfamiliar, but so appreciated by this labor-weary new mama, bed at the birth center. I snuggled your unknown, yet so known, little being. I laid with you tonight, exactly eight years later, and I prayed for you and you were spread all over the bed, almost as tall as me. How did all this growing happen so fast?
The past eight years have changed you. You came in to this world fully dependent on me, a baby comforted by my touch, my milk, my love. Now, each day, I see you becoming more and more independent. Needing me less and less, as it should be. As much as it hurts my mommy heart that wants to hold on forever, it also makes me excited. Excited to see who you become, to see the man that God wants you to be. I see all the potential right there, in you, in your generous heart and your inquisitive mind, in your smile and your hugs. Every once in a while, there is a glimpse of the man you will be. Even as my heart breaks a little to see it, it is a privilege to watch you become.
But you aren’t the only one who is different. Being a mother has done more to change me than anything else that I remember. And it has been hard. From the moment you were born, you have reflected the worst part of myself back to me. You, in all your baby innocence, showed me pretty quickly who I really was inside. You showed me my selfishness, my critical spirit, my whiney-ness. And, still, today, I can see more clearly all the ways I fail you, and I hurt over each and every one.
But you also showed me that I can love more than I ever thought possible. You showed me that I can hurt more for others than I ever hurt for myself. Because of you, I found the strength inside me to go on even though the days were tough, even though I wanted to quit this whole parenting thing. Through you, I learned to wrestle with finding a balance between holding on and letting go. I also found an unexpected joy in motherhood – in watching you grow, in loving so much it hurts, in celebrating when you are happy and consoling when you are sad – all this, I would never have experienced if not for you, firstborn.
Two day old new mom tiredness
Being your mother, although tough on many days, has made me a better person. I wouldn’t trade any of those hard times, any of those days that I wasn’t enough, any of those times when all I could do is cry because I had failed you that day. Baby boy, know that there is grace for those times. God is there with you. He surely has been with me. And because of you, and Him, I am growing in ways I didn’t know that I needed to. I am a better wife, daughter, and friend because of the things you have unknowingly taught me.
These eight years have been an adventure. It is amazing to have a front row seat to a person becoming. I do mourn the quickness with which they have gone by, but I look forward to what we get to experience in the next eight, to seeing more of who God makes you into. I love you something fierce, little man. Happy birthday!