Birthdays, Everydays

Dutch crawled up on my lap, “But Mommy, I want you to play with me. One day you’re going to wake up and wonder where all the years have gone. Someday I’ll be too big to play with you. Please?”

It's not by chance that I happened to read Kari Patterson's blog post today. It's about a tired Mum who chooses nevertheless to go outdoors with her 8-year-old to watch the clouds. They tickle and laugh, and crawl around like tigers. She learns to watch the clouds, and also watch her son. He is growing up. 

My younger son is on the cusp of 2-year-old hood. In our eyes, I think he turned two long ago; just because we know he thinks he's older than that, and behaves that way too. But he's still my baby, and I am a little sad that he'll never be one again. 
Special spontaneous outing at the park.
Our older boy turns four this week too. I already find it hard to remember how it felt to have him as a baby, a toddler. Now he is a little boy, to be reasoned with, who makes me laugh and cheers me up. We can't wait for him to surprise us with more of the person that's emerging from within, but he will no longer be that bundle of unbridled energy that he was in his toddler years. Self control and a tempered spirit have come into play, which are all good things. Just not the same. 

Not that we don't try to fight it, this growing older thing. I have tried to slow time by working part-time from home and spending every possible moment I can with them. I was there for all their milestones-walking, talking, their first spoon of pumpkin mush. Mark has chosen a more flexible work arrangement to spend more time with the boys. We go on holiday. A lot. Because we love travelling, but also because we love what being together for extended periods of time does for us. We are able to take a step back,  find some perspective, and see the new shoots of grace and growth springing forth which we did not have time to notice before.

And yet the time flies. 

My mother used to sing this song when we were little, from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. 

Where are you going, my little one, little one
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you're two, turn around, and you're four, 
Turn around, and you're a young girl going out of the door.

I cannot see yet to the point when my 2- and 4-year-old go out of the door. The irony is that this very goal of parenthood is the one that we sometimes deeply dread. What an inward tussel, that of holding on and letting go. One is necessary, but our little ones also need the other.

My solution at this point? I will spend their birthday week, and all the weeks after, for as long as they will allow me, showering them with kisses and hugs, and bedtime cuddles. I will surprise my 2-year- old at the playground with a loud "Boo!" so that he cackles with laughter, and let him surprise me back. I will wrap my 4-year-old in a blanket piled with pillows on top, and pretend to eat him like a hungry spider devouring its prey.
Mummy "Spider" prepares to "devour" her "prey".
And I will learn to take a step back and see the grace upon grace that is evident in their lives.

Community helps. We are so grateful for the friends who have been pointing out how the children have grown; how Z is a lot more comfortable in social settings now; how E is picking up so many new words. They give an external perspective which we sometimes lack.

So Happy Birthday, our dearest boys.

Z - When Daddy and Mummy look at you, we see God's grace. We see a young warrior with a brave heart, but also a tender soul who looks at people and has compassion on them,  just as your Lord Jesus did. We see a young man who is not afraid of feelings and is growing to be comfortable in his own skin. Who walks to the beat of a different Drummer. We love the way you dance and worship God! May your sensitivity to others and your unique sense of individuality be strengths and not weaknesses. Our prayer for you this coming year is that you will grow in the confidence and security that can only be found in your identity in Christ. You are the apple of His eye, and ours. And may you grow in the fruit of the Spirit as you relate to your brother and those around you.
Our brave young warrior with a big heart.
E - You are our Mr. Sociable! Thank you for the joy you bring to everyone you meet. Your confidence and enthusiasm for life are infectious. You are so sweet-natured and have a tender heart for the weaker and vulnerable among us. You love babies and animals, and you have a way of making people feel better. We are intrigued by your interest in cooking and how well you carry a tune! What a precious giggle you have. Our prayer for you is that you will learn to temper your energy with self control,  and learn to also be comfortable in your alone moments and not just in the company of others. That you will grow to know how much Jesus loves you and to be secure in our love for you.
Our young and sensitive child who has a soft spot for animals.
May we all take some time to watch the clouds this week. You never know what growth, challenges or grace you might find.
Always our little boys.
"So we watch them, yes? Day by day. Intently. Watching for new pictures, new evidence of grace. The white peach-fuzz, the golden skin, the too-big teeth and puppy breath. All of it. We watch for growth to praise, challenges to face, grace to celebrate.Their eyes, skies, windows to their souls.This week,  dear Mum … watch that."

Excerpts taken from

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