Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Joys of Raising Boys

I was recently invited to a baby shower where I was asked to give the expecting mom some advice on raising her first boy. I don’t have a lot of mommy years under my belt, so I wouldn’t call myself an expert at this gig, but having had 3 boys in 4 years, I realize I’m part of an exclusive “boy mom club,” and therefore have some wisdom to impart on the matter. With Mother’s Day approaching I thought I would give you the lowdown on the joys to expect when you’re expecting a boy.

I realize no 2 boys are the same. The ones in my house that share DNA could not be any more different from each other. No matter who your little man is you'll have to figure out your own rhythms of raising him. However, there are some common universals I've learned across the board from my 3 and from other moms of boys. So I'll try to unpack the important stuff here. 

First off, I always hear moms saying they wish someone had told them sooner that when changing a boy's diaper, you always have to put his thing down. We moms have never been boys ourselves, so how would we know this? I remember times when my boys would pee clear into their armpits without managing to get anywhere near the bottom half of their body wet. I was convinced my firstborn had some intense perspiration issues--wasn't he too young for Old Spice? Put the Old Spice down and put his boy part down, too. 

Also, boys come equipped with boy sounds. They come out of the womb knowing what trucks and trains and dinosaurs sound like. He'll also know how to incorporate fart noises and the word "poopy" into most any inopportune time--mealtimes, while meeting a new friend, or even during bedtime prayer. I think they wake up every morning with a personal quota to fill. You'll find yourself saying "no potty talk" 15,000 times a day, and he'll think he's the funniest person on the planet. 

He'll play in the mud, turn anything into a weapon, climb things that are too high, and then jump off, just to make sure you have no fatal heart conditions. 

But goodness, he'll know how to take over that very heart of yours. He'll flash grins at you and know just how to work his "look"--the one that's like magic on your mama heart. He'll ask you to rub his back and sing him songs and pray for him, and you'll realize you get to be the first most important woman in his life.  He'll say he wants to marry you and tell you you're pretty and think you're a real life princess, and your heart will hardly be able to hold it all. 

You'll sometimes get frustrated and wonder how you could possibly have been entrusted to raise a boy. You've never been one yourself. You couldn't possibly understand how his mind works or what makes him tick and the responsibility of raising a young man in this crazy world will feel daunting. But, you'll realize behind the great men that have gone before us--the doctors, the teachers, the presidents, the preachers, the engineers, the poets, the artists--behind many of those men were some fierce mamas who had some hard days and persevered anyways. 

You'll teach him to hold open doors and to be kind and generous--you'll be the first woman he ever goes on a date with, and you get to be the one he perfects his manners on as he learns how to be a gentleman. You'll show him what chivalry, bravery and courage look like. And you'll hold him and wipe his tears away when being brave and courageous just aren't in the cards for that day. 

You'll sometimes dream of who he'll be when he grows up, what mark he'll leave on this world, and it will make you proud. You'll realize the tireless, often unseen work you do everyday is actually so important because you are laying a foundation for future generations to come. You'll dream of that moment when he dances with you on his wedding day and the time he will call you for advice about his own baby because he'll remember how good you were at being his mama. 

But for now, in the small moments, you'll hold him tight and rock him in the wee hours of the night while the rest of the world sleeps. You'll kiss his owies and be his biggest cheerleader when he smiles for the first time and rolls over and crawls and waddles out his first steps. You get to be his number one girl for the foreseeable future, the queen of his little boy heart.

Drink that into your soul and carve it onto the crevices of your heart,

because my goodness, 

what an honorable place that is to be.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Pain Behind the Pictures

It's Christmas time and things aren't always as Hallmark movie-ish as we'd like. We want them to be perfect and magical and cozy, but the truth is--we live in a sad, hard, fallen world and the holidays are not always what they're cracked up to be. We don't get a pause button for the hard stuff--we don't get to skip over it and see it on the other side of the new year--we carry it with us thru all the twinkling lights and joyous Christmas carols--like we would carry a heavy, ugly backpack into a fancy, black tie event.

Lately, people have been commenting on social media and real life that I've been sharing these perfect pictures of our lives. While I have recently acquired a love for photography--it's purely a creative outlet for me and that it is all. Please don't let my highlight reel of our lives on Facebook and Instagram fool you--it is not my intent to make you think our family has somehow reached a level of flawless perfection. As much as I love a pretty picture, I love an honest heart. Yes, these pictures have been magical parts of our real life--chopping down trees, Christmas concerts and plays with a family that is so very big and so very close, hot coco by the fire and surprise snow days, but there are parts of this season I haven't taken pictures of. To me, these still moments are my way of freezing the happy times I want to remember. I don't want them to get lost somewhere in the painful, sad times that have a way of sticking with us whether we have a picture to remind us or not.

It was a cold, December night 7 years ago when we found out at my birthday dinner that Owen's very good friend died in a climbing accident. It was on Christmas morning nearly 20 years ago that my grandfather passed away. We are coming up on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting where 20 6 and 7 year olds were gunned down on a normal school morning. The parents and loved ones of these precious babies are forever marked with the memory of unopened Christmas presents and last visits to Santa Claus.

I live in a world that is no stranger to pain at Christmas time. I know friends battling health issues, some spending their first Christmas without a loved one, others struggling financially, our collective pains seem like an endless list. So, while I'm trying to find and capture priceless, beautiful moments shared between the people I love, there are pictures of hard moments that I haven't taken.

Like when some lab results required a full panel blood screen on my 9 month old. There aren't any pictures of us physically restraining my baby while they tried to find veins for their needle. No pictures of the emotional toll it took on me and him. Thankfully, he is absolutely fine. But, it reminded me of a friend who has to do worse things than this every week for the sake of her baby's health. There aren't pictures of physically feeling the ache of another mama's heart at Christmas time.

I haven't taken pictures of my mother-in-law who is 67 years old and doesn't know who I am due to a disease that has been stripping away her memories and ability to comprehend and experience life for the past 15 years. There aren't any pictures of 2 nights ago--her first time staying at a facility away from her husband. No pictures of us trying to convince him that at this stage of the disease, his immense love and care for her is just not enough. There aren't pictures of the deep pain and loss that we are feeling for all different kinds of reasons. To watch Owen take on the burden of helping his parents who shouldn't be dealing with this in the same phase of life that he is raising his 3 small boys in. The same phase of life that they should instead be drinking in priceless moments with their most gorgeous grand babies. There are no pictures to convey how lonely this is--that we know no one else our age going through this with their parents. There are no pictures of her telling me stories of what Owen was like as a little boy on Christmas morning--because those moments have never existed for me. I will only know her through the eyes that my baby inherited from her and through the beautiful heart of my husband--the kind of heart that tells you it was nurtured and cared for by a good, good mama.

I know it often feels like there is this pressure to attain some magical threshold of perfection. I'm here to say us Barton's and our pretty pictures have not arrived to this place. We have definitely found profoundly beautiful moments during "the most wonderful time of the year," but that is not the only story we are living.

But, I'm reminded that the real beauty of the Christmas story is that there's really nothing glamorous about it at all. It's about a teen mom who gave birth in a barn because she was fleeing from a king who wanted her baby killed. I mean, He happened to be the One who came here to save us--but He didn't do it in some over the top, extravagant way. He came Low. Vulnerable. Helpless. And by doing that--it created a space for us all to fit in. "The weary world world rejoices"--and so it seems we really do have a reason to.

Doesn't that take the pressure off? The pressure to perform or have it all together or to be perfect or grandiose or extravagant? The beauty lies in the fact that Grace stepped down into our world of pain and suffering so we wouldn't have to endure it alone. So we wouldn't have to claim perfection, but that we would just need to offer the world exactly who we are--even if who we are is just a bunch of shattered, broken pieces. It's all we really need from each other and it's the most we have to offer--the truest version of ourselves. Because as they say, the cracks in our humanity are what allow the light to come in and to flow out.

So, whether this is a magical season or a difficult one--the Christmas story has offered a place for you. To come just as you are. Whether it's on a sleigh covered in twinkling lights--or if it's Low. Vulnerable. Helpless.

There is no magical formula or perfect picture for obtaining the ultimate threshold of beauty.

Because broken or whole--

you fit beautifully here,

just as you are.

And as I'm slowly learning,

so do we.

This is my mother-in-law, Ann, on Thanksgiving Day with our Blakey Boy

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Whoever I Am to You

If you're reading this--our paths have probably crossed at some point in life. We went to the same high school or college or church or were on the same basketball team or you are friends with my brother or my mom was the best labor and delivery nurse you've ever known.

I'm that brown girl on your newsfeed who had a million kids in one year and posts pictures of them all the time.

To some of you I'm much more than that and to some of you I'm less than that. But whoever I am to you--I hope you can listen to my attempt to be a bridge from one side to the other.

As I look at my newsfeed--it is divided right down the middle. I have seen posts like 'who are these faceless people who voted for Trump and won't admit it' and I think to myself -- if you log onto my Facebook feed they have faces, are proudly admitting it and they are people I love. And I've seen things like 'Waa waa waa we didn't get our way so we're going to throw a fit,' 'get over it, move on, stop making it about something it's not.' 

I have to say, I pride myself on the fact that these extremes are at play. It shows that my life has been enriched by so many voices and opinions and beliefs. That I have white and black and brown and Muslim and gay friends. And I'm hearing all of their voices. I realize, not everyone's newsfeed looks like mine. A lot of them look or reflect mostly the way they personally look and believe. And I'm sitting in a very unique position.

I want to say first, I hear you. I hear both sides. I hear the people who say 'I couldn't vote for Hillary based on policy issues or moral values and I'm not an uneducated redneck' and I hear the people who say 'I couldn't vote for Trump based off his xenophobic, sexist, racist rhetoric'-- I HEAR YOU.

And that's what it seems like both sides are looking for. Just for someone to listen. It's so easy for us to just start spouting or generalizing or assuming. I hear you if you voted for Trump and are saying you aren't a racist, bigoted, Neanderthal. And I believe you.

But, we cannot simply just move on because the election is over now. The election may be--but the effects have only just begun. I was born and raised in The United States. My parents moved here from India well before I was born--so this is my home. And in my home I have, for the most part, been treated with the utmost respect. But, I have also personally been called racial slurs such as sand nigger and towel head. I have had Indian friends who have been called slurpee-maker or been told to go back to their country (even though they were born here.) After 9-11, my brother was confronted in a bathroom in an accusatory way 'what do your people think about these attacks?' His people? He was born in New Jersey. As if my brother and my family wouldn't be devastated, appalled, disgusted, horrified and scared ourselves.

In light of the recent election--I have seen more and more reports of this type of behavior and speech being used, even amongst our children in our schools. Did Donald Trump suddenly make everyone racist? No, he didn't. However, as my cousin pointed out 'it has unveiled a level of bigotry that has always been in our country,' and that is scary, so scary for some. And instead of saying let's move on and be glad and have hope--I think we need to leave space for people. As I've said before, I have lived a very tame life without much hate or racism shoved my way--but I can say I have experienced it more than most of my white friends have. I have walked into a room with my head hung lower because of the color of my skin and the worry that I wasn't seen as an equal. And if you can't understand that--if you do not have the ability to actually comprehend that because you have never been in that skin or those shoes--then you offer an ear. And you sit and you cry for the injustice and you put your arm around the hurting and you stand with them and for them and you let them be sad and you acknowledge their pain and their fear.

Please hear me, I'm not saying be sad that Trump won if you voted for him based on policies or beliefs or moral values or even if you just plain like the guy. I'm not saying let's talk about how horrible Hillary is or how great she is. I'm saying SIT with your neighbor in their pain and acknowledge that this week--people who you can't necessarily identify with, woke up to a scarier world. So be there in the trenches with them. And offer a listening ear. RISE UP when they are too weak to do it themselves and when they're finally ready --champion them to RISE UP WITH YOU! 

The most compassionate voices to me have been from my white friends saying 'I'm sorry I don't understand and never will, I'm sorry you would even have to think that someone could yell racist names at you in front of your 3 little boys, I'm shaking and crying from the injustice of it all. What can I do? Do you have any ideas of how I can bring you -- or anyone else feeling on the outside--in." Those are the most powerful, pure, humbling voices that have been a balm to my fractured, aching heart.

Rise up to racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia. RISE UP to the people who call ME a sand nigger--because I'm honestly too freaking scared to do it all by myself. RISE UP for the Muslim girl that was walking to the bus stop and a white man yelled 'it's open season on your kind soon' because I guarantee you she's scared, too. RISE UP for those who have been sexually assaulted and are now afraid because their future president can say things about how he 'grabs p#ssy' and well--if the president of the United States of America can say it--then maybe the guy who sexually assaulted her somehow gets a pass, too.

Trump is here for the next 4 years, at least. I can respect that. He's our future president and I can agree with that meme going around saying we have to hope he doesn't fail because it's like being on the same airplane and wanting the pilot to fail. No one wants that. I hope for wild success under his administration. But, we must not also just sit back with our oxygen mask on feeling fine and safe while the person in the next row is hysterically crying and can't figure out how to put her own oxygen mask on. We don't just sit a row back and tell her she's overreacting. We must get up from our comfy seat and go sit next to her, we must react to her screaming for help--and we must grab that oxygen mask and we MUST help her put it on--we must help her feel and stay safe!

Church friends. Be loud for justice. Jesus was loud for the people in the margins-he hung out with the hooker and the cheating tax collector and the people with diseases no one wanted to be around. Find those people in this world today-the ones who don't feel like they are in the 'in crowd' they are so very near to you-nearer than you may think. They are the black and brown and LGBTQ and Muslim and disabled and poor and so many more. We are called to LOVE as He did and the world is full of broken humans in need of that LOVE right now. Find someone, even if it's just one. Open your arms and your doors and show them the beautiful, scandalous love that you've been shown.

Friends who don't know or love Jesus--I have watched so many of you love the least of these--just as my Jesus did and I have wept to see the way you have put your arms around the hurting and broken. And I am so very proud to call you my friends. What an honor to share space in this world with you.

I am convinced there are far more of us who love than hate.

So, let us ALL rise to the occasion.

Because regardless of whoever I am to you--

I need you now more than ever.

-Lisa Hanchinamani Barton

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cheers: To Life

"We make boys!" Insert awkward, eek emoji face here because that's the face I've been making when I tell people. As if I'm ready to get slugged in the face--because that's what it sometimes feels like. Believe me, I've heard it all. I've heard every bad and crazy thing there is about having boys. And yet, I think the ones I have are just fabulous, so I know a lot of the amazing things there are about having boys, too.

I think we all have an ideal in our head to some degree. To some--1 boy and 1 girl may seem like the perfect family unit. In my case, the perfection was in 2 boys and 1 girl--that's the family I come from so assumed all my life--that's the family I would get. I remember playing the board game "Life" when I was younger and even then I took it to heart--always hoping for 2 boys and 1 girl.  In a day in age where we can virtually pick out anything we want with 500 options to spare--it's interesting that, generally speaking, we don't have much control over the children we have. Not when or if we have them, not their gender or eye color, or sense of humor. This isn't some app where we create our own characters. In real life, it's out of our hands--we have few options within our reach--but we always end up loving what we get.

I'll admit there was grieving on my end. I grieved headbands because for the love I just want to put a headband on a baby with some cute leggings and boots--is that really too much to ask for?! The possibilities, of dressing a mini me are endless--I promise I would've rocked it. And the thought of Owen with a little girl--my heart can't even handle it. I grieved pedicure dates and chick flicks on the couch and wedding dress shopping someday. Yes, there was a part of me that was sad--that maybe still is. But, I'm thankful for 3 nieces who will be forced to drag me along to all their girly events. My life is not one of lack--for this I am aware and utterly grateful.

So, for the most part, I only told close friends and family first--people who I knew were safe and would only have the best things to say to me. I dreaded the part where I had to start telling people like the coffee stand lady or the acquaintance at church -- and rightfully so. Because when people have their ideal picture crushed they ask you strange questions and tell you things like 'boys are only yours until they get married and then they leave you.' Ok, why this one? First of all, they should leave me at some point -- cut the umbilical cord for heaven's sake! There's a world I would like to travel and a life they'll need to live -- so I will urge them to someday leave me. And second of all, I have seen my brothers get married and still love my mom if not more now than when they lived in her house. I watched them dance with her on their wedding days--I saw her be the queen. I get to do that. Times 3. But, even crazier than this, I have been wished condolences. Condolences. Over life.

As we sit here in the middle of the month where we take time to honor and remember babies that were never born or who died after a short lifetime--it seems crazy to me that a third boy suggests that I need sympathy. There are people who I deeply love who cannot even have children or who have lost children. Condolences should not be wasted on me. I've thought about this a lot. And though he's my third boy--this is his first time on earth. He will be his very own person living and breathing his very own air. This world will be his new home where he will experience some of the most breathtaking adventures and soul crushing losses. His identity won't solely be wrapped around being the 'third Barton boy'--he will have his own name and be his own him. Maybe someday he'll find the cure to cancer, become the president, or maybe he'll be someone who notices the people in this world who are easily forgotten--and be the one who loves them. I don't know who he will be but surely he doesn't deserve sympathy and condolences -- new life deserves to be celebrated. This boy--he will not be sympathized, he will be celebrated.

On the flip side of the crazy comments, I've also received some of the most profound, encouraging, uplifting messages I've ever heard in my life--from moms of all boys or friends that love me or people that love babies or people that love Jesus and even the random strangers at the grocery store. I have been entangled by this net that has come up from behind and let me grieve ballet slippers while speaking truth and life and light over me and my precious boys. I'm just a girl who has no clue what I'm really doing but I have been gifted the honor of raising 3 boys who will one day become men. No Pressure.

So, in this world that is quick to cut our men down and tell pregnant mothers awful stories about boys, and say things like 'I would never want a boy',  I will delete my awkward, eek emoji face and say with my head held high and pride in my voice that we are having our third boy. I refuse to enter this ring as if I'm ready to get slugged in the face--no mom of 3 boys gets to take the posture of defeat. I'm going in confident and ready to spend my days laughing with these boys, playing ball with these boys, fostering a relationship between them built on respect and trust and honor, while creating a space for them to also be authentic, honest and vulnerable (oh man, is it my dream that these 3 boys would be best friends.) I know life will be messy and even stinky and I'll probably lose my cool more than I will care to admit, but I will strive to point them to Jesus. And teach them to love and care for and serve people. There are far too many men in this world who were never taught what it means to be a good husband or father. I will do my best to deposit more good men back into a society that has become dry of that.

And since I, personally, don't know how to do any of that-- I am completely at the mercy of my Jesus who will lift my arms on weary days and give me the strength and the words when I can't find my own. And my Owen. He is a man who lives in a way I have yet to see anyone else live. He is hardworking and involved and invested in his children. He serves his family more than anyone I've ever seen. I say that completely with my whole heart's honesty. These boys won't have any choice but to watch goodness play out everyday (AND he will also be the one to teach them to pee standing up thankyouverymuch.) I already adore the boys I have--these last few years of raising them have been the best years of my life--an absolute joy. So, I anticipate only more of that--more to adore, more to love, more to enjoy.

As one of my favorite moms of 3 boys wrote me, 'I am so excited for you--God has wonderful plans. If He told you now, you wouldn't believe Him.' I think back to a fairly newlywed, terrified me, looking down at my first positive pregnancy test, tears rolling down my face thinking 'I can't do this yet. I have no idea how to do this.' And then I look in the face of my almost 4 year old little boy who has changed every fiber of my being for the better--and I think 'She's right. I would've never believed Him if He told me.'

So, yes. We might be having our third boy. But, this will be his very first time in this world-- living his very own life full of endless possibilities, potentials, and dreams.

So--with the help of my family and friends, we will celebrate, raise our glasses, and cheers--

To life.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Hope in Rough Waters

It is not lost on me that I was born in the land of privilege. My parents were not. When I go back to India and see the village my dad grew up in with all the little children living in poverty and see the tiny house that my mom and her 9 siblings shared, I become keenly aware that this life of luxury I live in could have easily not been mine. The ease to which I feed my children, put them in new clothes everyday, plan for their education and give them all the toys that no one needs--this ease comes in large part because of the soil I live on, the place I have called home all of my life. But, there is a whole world of people who were not born on a privileged land--who do not come by the comforts and ease of which I often take for granted.

As news unfolded yesterday of 3 year old Aylan, I was struck in horror. Seeing that little lifeless body washed up on shore made me ache to pick him up and clutch him to my chest--to wrap a blanket around his body and breathe into him the life he was never given."There is no such thing as other people's children"-- I felt the weight of this quote yesterday as I saw pictures of 2 little boys who I never birthed--yet experienced a fierce love and fierce agony over their sacred lives. In an interview after Aylan's body was found, his father, Abdullah said:
 "My children were the most beautiful children in the world. Is there anybody in the world for whom their child is not the most precious thing? My kids were amazing. They woke me up everyday to play with me. What is more beautiful than this? Everything is gone."
Isn't that us? Isn't that our kids? I say the same thing about my boys, and you say the same about yours. There is no difference in my existence than his, but that I was born on the kind of land that he only wished his own sons were born on.

I thought about the days or weeks leading up to their decision to leave. A husband and wife in the wee hours of the night whispering out the pros and cons of staying or leaving on this boat to give their kids a better life--a safer environment-- maybe just a chance. It has never been a conversation Owen and I have ever had to discuss. Never. How brave. How courageous. How daunting and terrifying. But, as everyone on social media is posting "you have to understand that no one puts their children on a boat unless the water is safer than the land." In the end, that risk was the better option. That risk was worth the risk. Because the idea of staying in a war torn area was no longer life to them. There was more hope in rough waters.

I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach for all the untold stories. For all the children's names we will never hear about. For all the people who didn't wake up in a warm cozy bed with their children in their own, safe rooms while they cooked them a hot breakfast over a working stove. For all the heartbeats fluttering in fear. For all the parents having to make the hard decisions. For all the lives lost --the lost artists, doctors, poets, musicians, peacemakers, business owners, light bearers, world changers -- who this world will never have the privilege of knowing. I woke up feeling hopeless, guilty, and desperate. 

Hopeless that the problem is so vast and I am so small. Guilty that I'm cozy in my house with my 2 boys while Abdullah just wants to sit by his boys' graves and rest. Desperate to do something. Anything. Like write out a bunch of words that might not change anything but the prayers I pray and the gratitude I hold in my heart. 

We may be blessed to live in the land of the privileged. But, to those who have been given much, much is required. We cannot assume this privilege exempts us, but rather calls us out and expects us to act on behalf of the marginalized. We must be hope in rough waters.

In the words of Sarah Bessey:

"Now go do your own small and senseless act of peacemaking today. Pick one small stone, my friends. It feels like it’s not enough, I know, but let’s make this mountain move."

Here are some practical suggestions from Sarah Bessey on how to move forward:


Sunday, June 21, 2015

You're There

You were there for 9 months (x2). Taking care of the house and the meals while I was too sick to move. Making grocery runs for popsicles at midnight and tying my fat feet into my too small shoes because I couldn't bend over to reach them myself. 

You were there when the boys took their first breaths. You saw them before I did. I saw the look on your face when you saw them for the first time --and I knew immediately that we did real good. I knew that these boys were the most priceless treasures you had ever laid your eyes on. 

You were there for the middle of the night feedings and diaper changes and the rocking back to sleep. You're still there in the middle of the night--snuggling sick kids or calming down the aftermath of a bad dream or grabbing a sippy cup of water. You're always there. Always. 

You're there after work when you're tired or worn out--you give them every ounce of energy, attention, and adventure you have--as if it were your only job in the world. And sometimes after they're asleep, you work more, because you're always there to provide for us.
You're there in your free time. What a high value you have placed on their lives by changing your priorities during this season of our lives. They are the center of your world. Even if that means your favorite hobbies don't get as much attention as they used to--or include the boys tagging along--you make sure they know you want to spend your time with them.

You're there for books and baths and bible stories. You pray with them and deposit invaluable worth into their souls. 

You're there to sing the same songs a thousand times without getting annoyed. You're there to teach how to crawl upstairs, ride bikes, build bonfires, swim and to show them how to get back up after a fall. You're there to cuddle and wrestle--you're there as a fun place to laugh and a safe place to land.

Because of the way you have chosen to be a life-giving, ever-present dad, you are changing the possibilities of their world. You are empowering them to be strong, godly men. You are showing them how to someday love and serve and honor their wives and their friends. You are showing them how to be confident and how to seek out adventure and to dare greatly and go forth boldly. You are calling out greatness in these 2, sweet little boys and I'm watching them learn to walk in that greatness because they watch their father do it everyday. 

They say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world--so, keep rocking, dads--I can already see the world changing--

Because you're there.




Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday, Baby Cole!!

My beautiful, baby boy!! How can one year have already passed since the first time I met you? As I put you down on your last night before turning 1, I sang to you our song as you smiled and giggled and nuzzled your face into my shoulder and I couldn't stop the tears that spilled out from my eyes as I remembered this past year with a sweet fondness and stood there holding you overwhelmed with honor and gratitude.

What a year it has been. You came into this world with your grand entrance as we hurried back across the ferry on Mother's Day and you have kept us on our toes ever since. There were challenges and difficult moments that are almost all forgotten in my mind because of the weight of joy you brought along with you.

I may have given you life, but you have given me more life. When I thought my love was maxed out to capacity you made me realize that the walls of our hearts know no bounds, there is always room for more. I watched as we all took on new roles: daddy and I as parents of 2 and Jace as an older brother-- I didn't realize there was a new kind of love to be had in those new spaces you gave us. But, there was so much more for all of us that we only fully understood after you arrived.

I watched as the bond between you and Jace started in motion the moment you laid eyes on each other. It was as if your souls had always known each other and they were finally meeting in a hospital room. I watched during those long, hard days when the only things that seemed to make you happy were the outdoors and the sight of your big brother. The giggles, the games, the way you light up when he walks in the room and the way he lights up when you're up from a nap--I see how you have changed him. You made him a big brother and he takes great pride and care in that privilege. It has caused my love for him to grow in a new way.

You have given us all new roles. So, not only did I get to fall more and more in love with you but I got to fall more in love with everyone in our lives who loves you. You gave me a new perspective and a fresh joy deep in my core. You made the colors of my world dance with a new, vibrant flare that arrived only when you did.

I love you so much, Baby Cole. My heart feels like it's being squeezed inside of my chest because I know I won't get to hold you this close forever. Turning one has a way of staking its claim in the ground that this life is perpetually moving in forward motion and I have no ability to press rewind to those tender, early moments. It is a reminder to grab hold of the very sweet present and savor it slowly.

So, for now I'm just burying it all so deep in my heart like the most sacred of treasures. Those early days of late nights, swaddles, naps on the go. The tiny toes and deep dimples. The way you eat everything in sight. How you flap your arms and shine your 6 teeth when you're excited. The soft thud of your chubby hands when you clap them together or pat my back. The way you bury your face into your blanket, come up for air and a huge smile--and then do it again. The way you play hide-and-seek with Jace and find him in the hamper 10 out of 10 times (and still feel so proud of yourself when you find him), the way you belly laugh when daddy throws you in the air and that smile you give me when you're being naughty. All of it. I'm holding it all so deep in my heart where I hope to keep it alive forever.

Happy 1st Birthday my sweet, precious boy! I thank Jesus everyday for entrusting me with the joy of being your mama. For giving me these precious years with you before I have to really share you with the world. For honoring me by giving me the chance to pour into you True Life and Love and Light so that it can all be released back out onto others someday--the greatest work I can ever be a part of. Thank you for teaching us what only you could. For giving us more life. For making us more full--more grateful, more playful, more joyful. And just for being ours. I love you with every thing I have in me to love.