Our firstborn recently turned six, and I find myself wondering how the time has passed so quickly. Six years old already? I swear it’s not possible. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that he was toddling around at my feet, using hummus as fingerpaint, pulling out a mess of toys, taunting the dogs? Will the next six years fly by as quickly? The math is startling but simple; a mere six years after that and he’s 18. A lump creeps into my throat, and there’s a knot in my stomach as the realization sinks in heavy.
We celebrated his birthday just a few weeks ago, this boy for whom I labored 27 hours. That little 9-pound baby was nestled so tightly inside I thought for sure they’d have to wheel me out of the labor and delivery room and right into the OR to get him out. But by the grace of God and a patient midwife, I brought him forth … 27 hours of anguish, 12 days past his due date. But the waiting was worth it. Waiting for a child is always worth it.
Exhausted and suffering from a severe case of chills, I barely remember the first hour of his life. My husband cut the cord and held him. Once I was able, they placed his swaddled frame into my arms. Black eyelashes rested on perfect cheeks, concealing deep brown eyes. His head was topped with a mass of dark hair, and he was gorgeous. My heart swelled beyond a capacity I’d ever experienced before, and I knew I would never be the same.
He was my son, and by his simple act of being he made me a mom. And in that moment, the beautiful mystery of love coming to us in the form of a swaddled infant washed over me.
Later we were told that the other nurses had come to peek in on him because they had heard he was so beautiful. He was, and he is. Today he’s handsome as ever, but the most beautiful part of our firstborn is his tender, gracious heart.
Yes, this just-turned-six-year-old boy is as rowdy as they come with a wild masculinity that hungers for adventure. And sometimes his energy depletes me. His constant motion, his inquisitive mind, his natural intuition, his curious tendencies … his fiercely adventurous spirit is a force of nature indeed. But he also possesses a tender heart that can slay me. This dear boy is wild and brave, kind-hearted and gracious, gentle and humble. That God would choose me to be his mother is a privilege that defies description. I never knew I possessed such capacity to love until I met him.
The first miracle of new life is life itself, and the second is what that new life does to a mom: turns her inside out so that her heart is walking around outside her body wearing skin. I couldn’t have anticipated the intensity of that second miracle. But once they placed his bundled body in my arms, I was never the same.
And the truth is, he continues to change me for the good. This son extends forgiveness, exercises compassion, lives adventurously, loves extravagantly. As the firstborn, I sometimes expect too much of him, but he rises to the occasion without a complaint. Oh that I would open my eyes to watch and learn from his child-like servant’s heart!
I am harder on him at times than I should be, and for that I am so sorry. I grieve when I expect too much of him; and yet he is quick to forgive. He has a longing to be seen, accepted, validated … I pray that I would love him without reserve, affirm his worth, validate his spirit. But more than anything, I pray that I would point him to the rock that is higher than I.
Six years lie behind us … six years of parenting this boy, and yet so much lies ahead! What an immense privilege, what an overwhelming gift! This task of raising children to know the Lord intimately, to seek Him wholeheartedly, to serve Him selflessly is astounding in its importance and all-consuming in its requirements. And yet, God promises that His grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness. Oh how I pray His power would overwhelm my weakness! For were I to fail at nearly everything else, but succeed in reflecting Christ to my children, then I will have succeeded indeed!
Happy 6th birthday, my dearest boy … words could never express the depth to which I love you!
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