Happy Birthday! Today you are seven. I am astonished that seven years seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye. You were just an infant behind the hospital window with a crowd of people craning their necks to get a glimpse of perfect, beautiful you. You were just a toddler in the church nursery, convinced that your teachers, Ms. Mary and Mr. James, were the parents of the Baby Jesus. You were just a 2-year old, telling everyone that you got your baby brother at the post office. You were just in preschool, never missing the opportunity during your playground time to catch my eye through my classroom window and show me the "I love you" sign before you would run off to play. You were just five, riding your first roller coaster and going to school. You were just six, playing your first season of baseball and giving how-to speeches about your latest science experiment at the dinner table.
And now you are seven. I continue to be amazed--and sometimes alarmed!--as you continue to grow. Just this morning I confessed to your dad that being with you sometimes seems surreal--like I should pinch myself to be sure that this boy living in our house is the same baby we brought home from the hospital that cold January day. But you are, and I know I wouldn't trade you for any other boy. Here's why:
You are loving and kind. This year you have spent some time away from us on sleepovers or with your grandparents. Each time, you come home and say how much you missed us, and seem genuinely glad to be back in your place. You pray for Daddy each night when he is away on business. You go out of your way to befriend the kids at school who are new or shy or not as popular. Your heart is tender, and your feelings run deep. People like you. I love you.
You are strong. This year has truly been a season of testing boundaries, pushing limits, and exercising independence. More and more, you are stepping out from beneath the umbrella of Mom and Dad's protection. Sometimes your requests are out of the question and you get angry with us; other times they are reasonable for a kid your age and you take another small step on your own. (You don't get this now, but someday you will understand that you, as our first-born, were our parenting guinea pig. Everything you do is new to us.) You are a tad bit sassy with a touch of attitude lately...especially with me. But you are secure in your home and confident in our unconditional love for you, and that makes me feel good. The road to independence may be slightly rocky, but I am not worried that the result will be good.
You are smart. You have excelled at school. You get "real" grades now--and they are outstanding. Your teacher brags on you. You read very well! You have moved from Dr. Seuss-ish books to chapter books...lots more words than pictures. You are a deep thinker and you ask great questions. During the summer I helped you make a volcano with Diet Coke and Mentos. After the cola shower had died down, you got right in the middle of the stickiness to figure out how it worked. :)
For these reasons and SO MANY MORE, you are loved. I often think back to the day you were born--the day when you first lay in my arms and I felt the responsibility of teaching you all about life. In the short seven years since then, you have taught me instead. Just by being your mom, I've learned all about laughter. I've learned about joy and sorrow, fear and excitement. I've learned to give up things that don't matter, and fiercely guard that which is precious to me. I've learned to pour out the best of me and to not worry about what I will get back. You have taught me about love.
When you were a baby, I spent a lot of time just holding you. I used to turn on a CD and sing to you as we rocked. One of the songs I sang included these lyrics:
Before I knew your name,
Before I saw your eyes, your chin and your nose,
Before I counted your fingers and toes,
I asked heaven for someone as wonderful as you
Every prayer and a wish came true
I dreamed of you
Before I knew your name.
You were everything I prayed and wished for, baby boy...and you still are. Happy Birthday.