Today my oldest turned seven. SEVEN. Seven years ago at this time I was desperately trying to feel up to going to see my baby in the NICU after my first C-Section. (I wouldn’t lay eyes on him for about 6 hours after he was born, and it would be another five days before I would hold him.) Friends, this one has been hard for me. Do you notice that or is it just me? Some years I do ok with them entering a new year of life. Some years I have a really hard time. This is one of those years. Some time in April, it really hit me. I really started noticing that he has become a “big kid.” He can read things to me. He tells knock-knock jokes that are actually funny. He tells me things about history and science. He plays Battleship and understands the strategy of it. He can reach things in higher places. He can do things I used to have to do for him. He asks harder questions. He’s seven.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly grateful and blessed that my babies are healthy and thriving and growing. But I am so sad at the same time because those “little years” are quickly coming to an end. And for Wyatt, I am already missing them. The snuggles are becoming rarer. The requests for assistance with the basics are becoming less frequent. Little by little, we give him a little more independence, and he dances off into the day handling it with ease. He makes me so incredibly proud, but when they say the time goes so fast, they ain’t lying.
That big kid has taught me so much from the very beginning. He taught me about trusting God’s timing. We tried for almost a year to get pregnant and suffered a miscarriage before he came along. He came into this world seven weeks early. He taught me about patience as I laid in a hospital bed for a week before we decided to induce labor, and then when we did, he wouldn’t come. He spent a month in the NICU. I was convinced Wyatt would come home on his one month birthday. The NICU nurses gently tried to tell me it was highly unlikely. He taught me about prayer as I fervently prayed every single day to bring my baby home. He taught me about faith and the power of seeking as we walked out of the hospital, baby in tow, exactly one month after he was born.
He has taught me about humbleness. Wyatt is easily my toughest child. His crazy energy and unending quest to climb all the things keeps me busy. But when he was four and five, I felt like the most unqualified mother ever. Wyatt couldn’t control his behavior. It took him hours to fall asleep at night. I researched and researched. Nothing I tried would help. I could look at him and see he physically couldn’t calm himself down. I humbly had to ask for help when I knew I could no longer do it on my own. I felt like a failure with one of “those kids” who couldn’t stay calm. We sought out a couple different professional opinions before finally learning he has a form of Sensory Processing Disorder. He’s taught me about advocating for my child when no one else will. Not being willing to accept something when I know in my gut there’s a deeper issue.
But most of all, this child has taught me about grace. Grace when I lose my patience and yell. Grace when I humbly go to him to apologize and ask forgiveness to show him that everyone makes mistakes. Grace when he immediately falls into my arms and tells me he loves me. Grace when he makes mistakes, and I have to allow natural consequences to follow, even though I could rescue him, because I want him to know his actions have consequences. Grace when I feel like I’m failing as a mother (like spelling ‘birthday’ wrong on his already very un-Pinteresty cake!). Grace when he has a rough day at school because he couldn’t calm down enough to listen to the teacher, and I remind him that we all have bad days. Grace, grace, grace. How to extend it and how to receive it.
To My Firstborn, I know you have so much more to teach me as we enter these “big kid” years, but I am ever so thankful that tonight you climbed up beside me on the couch to snuggle. This Mama’s heart cherishes those fleeting moments because it feels like tomorrow I will wake up and you’ll be driving, bringing home a girlfriend or heading off to college. Happy Birthday to you. I am so honored that God chose me to be your Mama.