My sweet son,
It is the very early morning hours of your 7th birthday. Soon you will wake up, and we will spend today celebrating the day you came into the world and the last seven years of joy you’ve brought with you. For now though you are still sleeping, and I’m awake thinking about how grateful I am for you, and the person you are becoming. Every year on your birthday I cry for a little bit… I cry tears that are equally happy and sad as I thank God for the gift of getting to be your mother, for your health, and for your happiness; but my heart also aches for a moment when I realize how quickly each birthday seems to have come and gone.
When you were a baby there were nights when you wouldn’t sleep, despite all our best efforts, and so your dad and I would load you in the car and drive around. Around that time there was a Darius Rucker song on the radio a lot that went like this:
“It won’t be like this for long/ One day we’ll look back laughing at the week we brought her home/ This phase is gonna fly by, so baby just hold on/ It won’t be like this for long.”
Sometimes when that song was on, your dad and I would just look at each other and smile, trying to remember that these sleepless nights would pass. And sure enough, they did.
A few weeks ago you fell asleep in the car on the way home, and were still sleeping when I pulled into the garage. I could’ve woken you up to have you walk in, but I decided to carry you, like I had so many times before. Except now when you stand next to me, your head is already at my shoulder, so it was not quite as easy as it used to be. But that was why I had to do it – because as I struggled into the house and up the stairs to your room, holding you in my arms with your head on my shoulder and your feet dangling by my knees, I was painfully aware it was likely the last time I’d be physically able to do it. The last time I carried you, my first baby.
When I laid you down in bed I looked at you, thinking of those nights when we would carry you into the house in your car seat, just a tiny baby that fit easily into your dad’s big hands. Now you aren’t a baby or a toddler anymore, and you’re looking less like a little boy every day. What a gift – you are healthy and strong, just as we prayed you would be. I just didn’t know how quickly you would grow and change! I think this is probably my greatest challenge in motherhood; every milestone seems to be both something to celebrate and a reminder of how quickly each moment passes. I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job to make the most of each one because they are the best part of my life, and I’m sure someday the memories will be my most precious possessions.
What I will remember about this part of your life is that you are kind and funny and have a big heart. You like to tease your sister, but you’re very sweet to her too. You’ve abandoned Thomas the Train and lots of your other little boy toys, but you still sleep with your stuffed pig at night. You love soccer, chess, and Star Wars. Every morning you still hug me when I drop you off at school, and my heart follows you as I watch you walk into the school, all bundled up in your snow gear. When you are sad or tired you still want me to hold you sometimes, and I drop everything to do it because I know that this, too, won’t last forever.
Last night before bed, after our prayers and book, I asked if you knew what the best day of my life was. You had some pretty good guesses, but you finally said you gave up and you didn’t know. I told you the very best day of my whole life was the day that you were born, because it was the first day I got to be a mom, and to know how much love my heart could hold. When I told you that, your eyes shined with tears and you hugged me. You told me that when I said that to you, it made the whole inside of your body feel warm.
My wish for you on your 7th birthday is that you carry that warmth inside of you – that love – every single day of your life. I hope that even on your darkest days, you can know you are loved beyond all measure and valued more than any earthly treasure. Your dad and I love you more than I can find words to express. Your birthday is truly a day to celebrate because it is the day we were given the most precious gift, a miracle: you. God bless you and keep you always, my beautiful boy. Happy 7th Birthday!
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