Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Birthdays make my heart hurt.

William turned four yesterday. It seems like it shouldn't be possible to have such vivid memories of him as a newborn baby, as a one, two, three year old. And now he's four. For some reason, four years didn't seem that long when it was High School, or when Brian and I were celebrating our fourth anniversary. But when you look at a child, and how much they change in 4 years, well- the difference seems like it should have taken 10 years, or 15. Nothing has made me more aware of my mortality and the fleeting nature of my days, than having children has. Adults don't seem to change. Five years, ten years... year to year, they seem the same. But children change so rapidly. So much of my heart wants to slow it down. I want to enjoy it more. There is not enough time to soak it all in, the way I want to. I realize that God didn't make it so that we could just sit around and enjoy our children every hour of every day. He made it so that we would have other jobs and responsibilities to take care of. I can't feel guilty about having a to-do list every day. And yet, I wish I didn't.

On Will's birthday, the Monday he turned four, I put my to-do list away for a day (as much as I could). It was a sweet day.

On Sunday night, the prior evening, my parents gave him their birthday present. It was the only thing he wanted, a Frank the Combine toy from the movie Cars. Frank can chase and catch Lightning McQueen and other matchbox-sized cars. William must have caught Lightning McQueen a hundred times at least, between Sunday evening and Monday. All day long on Monday, at least 5 or 6 times, he said, "Mom, this was the present I always wanted!" My heart was warmed that his expectations for his birthday were so simple. I know that when we go up north in a few days, his nana and papa and all of his aunts and uncles will make a big deal about him on his birthday, and then when we get back, in June, we will have another simple family party to celebrate his birthday and Aunt Dayna's. I almost wish we could be done celebrating his birthday, just because he was so satisfied with such a little bit, and a grateful child is a joy. (And I find that with even the best kid, the more presents they get, the more they want.) But at the same time, he is such a great kid and deserves to be celebrated a lot.

Anyway, on the actual day of his birthday, we kept it pretty simple. I told him we could do whatever he wanted to do. He wanted to make purple sugar cookies, so that's what we did. He wanted to play with his new Frank the Combine toy, and he definitely did that too. He certainly wasn't expecting any more presents, after getting Frank, but we had a couple for him (to his tremendous surprise and joy!). I found a great Mater's Tall Tales book at Salvation Army, so we read that a few times. He had also fallen in love with a submarine toy he had seen at Meijer. I hadn't seen him so enamored with a toy is a long time, and I had to get it for him. (Of course, I felt bad leaving Barrett out, so I picked up a tugboat from the same manufacturer (Green Toys) and wrapped them both together as a "gift for the boys to share." When William unwrap the submarine, he was almost shaking with joy. "Mom! This was the other gift I always wanted too!" They played and played with those boats, running around the house for a "boat race" and driving them in the dust outside while we ate watermelon, and then begged me to let them take a bath. After the bath, and after we put Barrett and Neva to bed, Brian and I stayed up late with William and played with his other gift, a big set of big boy Legos. We watched William build the different cars and we were both impressed with how well he did. He has such an agreeable little way  of saying "Oh! Okay." when he puts a piece on wrong, and then realizes he's got to fix it. Brian and I kept smiling and looking at each other. Brian didn't play with Legos as a kid, but I and my brothers did, and this was the gift I really wanted to get for William. (Brian had really wanted to get him a bow and arrows, so he ordered one, but after he found out that I got him the Legos, he decided to give him the bow in a few weeks.) It is hard not to buy things for our kids. They are so grateful and they love their toys so much, but there is an internal voice that reminds us that more is not always better.

When it was bedtime for Will, finally, I asked him if he wanted to sit in the rocking chair for a couple songs. His face lit up. "Yeah!" And this was the best and the worst part of the day. The two of us there, in the dark of the room, his precious little big boy body, sitting in my lap so long and lanky, so different from the tiny little baby I rocked in the same chair to the same songs only a few years ago. My heart almost physically hurt. Please, God, I begged. Don't let it be another year before I rock him in this chair again. And don't let me waste a second of my time with these preciou children in anger or frustration.

1 comment:

  1. Yaaaa! Play with Auntie's gift of plastic dinos!! Also - I love the picture of him showing he's four. It is way to perfect and his face so serious. I love reading these and yet it makes me miss you guys so much!