Pardon me if I have to stop to wipe a few tears off the keyboard today; we are celebrating Indy’s fourth birthday tonight. The actual event was earlier in the week, but due to church and family schedules this was the easiest day to celebrate. The cake is made (a chocolate cake that is round, per Indy’s request…hopefully this will end my career as ‘mommy the cake decorator’ because frankly I am not at all gifted in that area, but a plain iced cake is easy enough). The bread is in the bread machine and the spaghetti sauce just has to be thawed. I’m all about simple!
Simple. Before having children that’s what I thought of the art of child-rearing, that it would be simple. I was woefully unprepared for the complexity of having a child. Each child has taught me something more about how complex, how wonderful, life is.
As they were prepping me for my c-section the day Indy was born the enormity of what we were about to enter into again suddenly hit me and I began to cry. Silent tears rolled down my cheeks, tickling my ears and coming to rest in my hair. “It’s ok,” one of the nurses assured me, mistakenly assuming that I was afraid of the surgery to come, “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I didn’t correct her. I didn’t bother to tell her that all the scalpels in the world were not more frightening than the fact that soon I was going to be responsible for another little being, but that in the midst of the fear I was consumed with utter and absolute joy that soon I would get to meet this new little person. I cried, not from fear or pain, but because my heart was so overwhelmed with love and wanting that I had to cry because it was too much to contain unabated.
The road the last four years has not always been easy. Dirty diapers and reflux, thrush and poor latch, a child that made his neediness known and known LOUDLY, nights of crooning to him on the couch trying to quiet him, nights of trying to figure out HOW to get him to sleep. A child with a strong will and eyes that melt down defenses, a child not afraid to use either one to his full advantage. Forty pounds of pre-schooler melting down and refusing to walk, backaches and sore shoulders. Chasing him in circles around the table trying to get his coat on. Sibling quarrels and tears galore.
I could not possibly be more thankful for this gift. For the chance to learn patience, ingenuity, and how to fold a paper airplane. For the surprise of arms reaching out to hug me, of a totally random “Happy Mother’s Day” being said to mean “I love you and I’m sorry I just wrote on the table with marker.” Cuddles, books, and “It’s a BEAUTIFUL day, mommy!”
My heart breaks for every parent who has lost a child, for every couple who struggles to have one. What a gift we have been given, a treasure to cherish, to nourish, to bear responsibility for. I am thankful not only for my children, but also for a husband who treasures them as much as I do, who takes on the rough and tumble aspects of parenting that are more than my body wants to handle. I’m thankful for their grandparents and all the love that they have poured into the boys.
So tonight I will celebrate. I will celebrate another year of parenthood, another year of getting to know Indy and his indomitable spirit. I will also celebrate Gates and his persistance; his desire to to help me that has suddenly become so strong he has interrupted me every 3 minutes since I started writing this entry. I will celebrate who they are and who they are yet to be. And I will give thanks to the God who formed them.