One thing every mother needs to do is find the opportunity to listen–really listen–to her child’s heartbeat. Occasionally when Jack is sleeping, after we’ve done the over-the-top, needs-to-be-simplified bedtime routine of books, story-telling, prayers & singing…I lay with him and put my head on his chest. Not for long, but long enough to hear and even feel the strength of every thump of his heart. It’s a beautiful reminder to me how miraculous life is in the first place, how honored I am to be given the gift of children with two healthy, beating hearts and two enormous and full-of-life personalities. And as he breathes on me, I think of a sermon I heard long ago & how our every breath is like saying the name of God. YHWH.
Jack turned six on July 24, and today my house was full rowdy kids, sweaty foreheads, slingshots, ice cream messes, and a cake that weighed more than my newborn babies. Angry birds was the theme of choice this year, and seeing as though we already had an enormous water balloon launcher, we couldn’t have envisioned the party any other way than this:
I love being a mom on birthdays. I love having an excuse to sew a bunting, dip pretzel rods in melting chocolate, make over a dozen felt masks. I love the combination of creativity and challenge, and it helps that my oldest son adores to help me. His love language is at the intersection of “Quality Time” and “Acts of Service” so when I teach him out to use a fabric cutter for the 6 on his Angry Birds birthday shirt, we are both happy and filled up.
This birthday had most of the same little faces as previous ones, and I continue to be amazed at the honor it is to have the friends I have. They are incredible. Their families are precious, solid, and secure. Their children are a delight (most of the time). And they provide such a well-rounded community for Jack. Not to mention the immeasurable support & example they are for me. I would not, could not be the same without Jen. Abbi & Jack have been like siblings since they were in diapers, and Abbi has paved the way for Jack, setting examples of good behavior for over five years now. Jenna’s kids, Maylee and Caven, are life sources for him, and Jenna has become one of my most trusted, dearest friends. Her children are like my own, and vice versa. I change their diapers and throw them in our tub like they are family. It’s a rare, beautiful, and central relationship. And Isaac is such a special friend for Jack. Living just around the corner as well, Isaac and Jack spend time together being wild boys but also exploring the indoors more thoroughly. They do karate together, they build Lego kingdoms, and they delight in each other. And Henry, I believe, will be like the third child I may never have. Jack and Ollie love him like a brother. He nuzzles perfectly in their age gap and, because of this, I’m eager to see if he ends up being closer to Jack or Oliver in the long run. For now, he is in the precious middle and he is adored from every angle. I believe he was meant to be their friend just as strongly as his mommy was meant to be mine. (There isn’t enough time to prove just how true this is). And Sam and Isaac, Jack’s 2nd cousins from Arkansas, were able to join us and ohmygoodness am I glad they did. Those boys continue to inspire me to press on, raise my boys well, and maybe–hopefully–my two will end up to be like the amazing gentlemen that Isaac & Samuel both truly are. (Plus, they let the little kids chase them with silly string. Now *that’s* a party!)
So, with Jack’s closest bunch here, their beloved siblings & the amazing cousins we rarely get to see, we played Live Angry Birds in the front yard. We blindfolded the kids so they could knock the lights out of a bad piggy pinata. We dove into a spectacular, gigantic cake from Second Floor Bakery. We kept the party agenda moving but also let the kids run wild. But, most importantly, we celebrated. We celebrated everything Jack is. As his mother, this celebration always sinks in deeply for me because there hasn’t been a single day where raising this boy has been easy. Sometimes it beats me senseless. But oh do I adore him. And I know the feeling is mutual because he tells me and shows me. We’ve hit a “sweet spot” and our bond is really beyond comprehension. I’m so proud of him. And as he grows, I’m beginning to have a foundational trust in him. I’m also beginning to believe that may be the highest compliment a parent can give a child, particularly a young one.
Surrounded by our bird-masked favorite people, and under a cloudy but thankfully-not-rainy sky*, we flung bean bags with a water balloon launcher across the grass. We showered the backyard with candy from the broken pinata (thank you, Sam). We ate more cake than anyone expected. We jumped. We laughed. We got sticky, hot, sweaty and yucky. And we did so all because God has blessed us with this one special boy, whom I get to call my very own.
I love you, Jack. Happy 6th Birthday.
*It was supposed to rain. Really rain. I was so confident all of today’s chaos would be indoors that I deep cleaned our play room. This took three hours. And as the sun broke through the clouds a few times, I was so grateful I was forced to clean the basement, but also a little ticked that no one saw it’s shining glory.