Dear Juden~on your ninth birthday,
I am hoping these letters will help us remember your story, unfolding so fast before my eyes. Eight has been a wonderful year and one of so many changes. You love reading; pretty much anything but especially comics and the Lord of the Rings series with your dad. It is one of my favorite sights, peeking in your room at night with you laying on his back, both of you engrossed in tales of Middle earth battles and brave heroes. The other day we took you to the movies and during a scary scene you asked to sit on my lap. Your long legs draped over mine and I could feel your heart beat through your small frame. I remembered sitting in a movie theater with you when you were so tiny, curled in a ball on my chest sleeping through the whole thing. I felt so thankful that for now, you are not too big to sit on my lap and that you still feel a little safer in my arms. It's been a big year for you though, lots of strides toward more independence and me learning to loosen my grip a bit. Since you are my first, we have navigated so many firsts together and we will continue to. I'm praying for grace that we will learn together and that we'll trust in our Father to carry us through the hard and rocky places. I am thankful for the heart God is shaping in you. You are wild and stubborn, creative and full of ideas. You draw constantly, you are taking after your papa on the bike and you love to spend time in your room with your nose in books, building Lego's and always listening to music. You spend a lot of time outside and run home sweaty, scratched and bruised some days from playing so hard. You are a good friend and a good brother. You have a unique bond with Harper that brings me so much joy. Maybe because you prayed so earnestly for a brother... I don't know but you just love him. He climbs into your lap or onto your back every chance he gets. You are so gentle and patient with him.
I asked you where you would like to go on our date and again you chose the local English Tea room. It made me smile that you are definitely not the typical nine year old boy. You love the tradition of it and the food. You drank about four cups of tea and I listened to you talk about all sorts of things. I told you the story of the baby we had lost before we had you and how daddy and I said goodbye and how you would get to meet another sibling someday. You listened so compassionately that I could see you maturing right in front of me. We talked about heaven and you talked about all the things you wanted to do now that you are nine. You are such a thinker and I loved the chance to focus on you and to watch you laugh as you snuck more sugar in your tea. We walked around the Choo Choo, ate ice cream, watched the fish and you grabbed my hand and I tried to memorize your sweet, lanky, nine year old self.
There are days I feel how quickly it is going and how much I need to teach you to be ready for this wide broken world. Parenting gets harder, I can't lie. It was a different kind of care when you were tiny. I could soothe you, and nurse you and rock you and you would be okay. Now there are so many questions and there are days when your strong will wears on me and you don't want to hear what I have to say and I feel like a failure. But I know God gave us to each other and that He will shepherd me as I try to guide you through growing. I will love you with my whole heart always, son of mine. We will pray, and hug and forgive and pray some more. Even on the hardest days when you are restless or fitful, I slip into your room after you are asleep and slide books from under your arms and watch you peaceful, and whisper blessings and love over you. I am overwhelmed with the gift you are to me.
The other day I read a post by one of my favorite blog writers who just gave birth to her fifth child. She said this of her newborn son:
"We meet and it's passionate and needy and I feed my child, I have fed my children and I have kissed every inch of their faces, if only for a short while. These cycles are not like a life cycle, or the slow turning of the earth. It's more like the wheel of a bicycle spinning through a tree-lined neighborhood, the sun glinting off its spokes. We ride quickly and the wind on our faces is like the gentlest touch, it's full of the scent of flowers."
~ Journey Mama
I loved how she put that and I remember well.
It took me back to the day I first became a mother, still so poignant and fresh in my mind. So many hours I labored, body shaking, and afraid. I knew something was wrong when my midwife and nurses would not look me in the eyes. But your daddy was holding my hand the whole time, praying over me, speaking strength. Your head was stuck and there was panic and voices were urgent. When I felt totally wrung out and broken, I remember my only thought. "God please hold my son." In that moment I didn't care what happened to me. I didn't care if they cut me open with a sword, I just desperately wanted to hear you cry. I wanted to hear life. I realized then that I would willingly die for you.
Then after pain and panic came you... perfect and pink and wailing. They gave you to me and you calmed and looked right into my eyes. I had never known such immediate and overwhelming love.
I remember those early cycles of sleeping and kisses and nursing and watching you in awe. It's strange now to see that quick retreat from little boyhood and to see you becoming my little man.
My son, you are joy to my heart.