I’m so glad I didn’t miss the moment. He ran in with big eyes and a happy face — Mom, I made something for you! Come see! Sometimes I’m tempted make excuses because I have other things to do, but this time, somehow, thankfully I knew better.
He led me out the door, and into the carport, where he’d created a flower arrangement for me in the wagon. One flower from a beautiful blooming dogwood tree, one azalea, two different camellias, and a wild flower from the yard, thrown in for good measure.
I grab my phone to make sure I capture the moment.
We bring the flowers inside and they float in a bowl and make me smile for a couple of days.
My eldest, these days, I smile and shake my head when I think of him. I’m so proud of the sweet little young man he is becoming. He cares about making good choices and is genuinely remorseful when he makes mistakes. I marvel as he adds four digit numbers to four digit numbers faster than he can tie his shoes.
I grin from ear to ear reading the creative writing stories he scribbles into his green composition journal. His illustrations are so creative, I just can’t help but smile, breathe a deep sigh and soak it in. We play card games and laugh at how many times one of us has won, and the other hasn’t.
When I stop to think about it, this has been six years of amazing.
The precious little fellow in the middle. A wild card — I never know what to expect. At times he is so tender, so incredibly gentle. We snuggle up in his bed to read two books before his nap every day. Then I tickle his back and sing two songs. Last week he offered to tickle my back and sing me two songs instead. I often make up the songs as I go, so he followed suit, and the results were hilarious.
Sometimes when he wakes up in the morning, his big eyes stare straight through his Dad and me, it’s as if he visited another planet over night and he’s returned, completely speechless. He cracks unexpected jokes and we all laugh.
Four years of my heart just melting over and over, with this little guy.
And the baby girl. We find ourselves saying “This is the best” almost every day. The moment when she’s just woken up, and she hugs one of us with both arms, both legs, her head tucked up under our chins. Or the moment when I’m laying her down for her nap and her voice just coos like a dove, “I wuv hyu, Mama.” I’ve left her room in tears before. Overwhelmed. It’s just so precious.
She is also feisty and cheeky and still so often needs to be reigned in. So full of big emotions in such a tiny frame. It’s impossible to tickle her and watch her giggle and not feel like your own heart is about to burst. She was the gift that arrived four months before I knew I needed her, and has been giving joy by the bucketload to HH and to me ever since.
Two years of delight. Two years of joy with this one.
The thing about parenthood that has surprised me the most has been the gifts I’ve received in the process. A card that the eldest wrote me, full of kindness, love and thoughtful words, holds a place in my Bible. The hilarious moments the middle one has created with a funny comment or joke, I try to write them down, so that I can go back and enjoy them again. I knew parenthood was going to be about giving. I knew I’d be making sacrifices. I just never realized how incredible the return on investment would be.
Two years ago, we put a hand-me-down “big sister” t-shirt on our four-month-old baby girl as an April Fool’s Day joke. Some folks were congratulatory, some folks joked, and some folks were pretty honest about saying they thought we were crazy.
But parenthood has a way of being a bit like a flower arrangement in the wagon in the carport. You have to get up, go looking for the moments.
Moses was out with the sheep — and he had to turn aside from what he was doing to go see that burning bush. And he didn’t immediately recognize it as holy ground — the voice of God spoke to him, Take off your shoes.
The eldest is reading stories he wrote to his two younger siblings. This is holy ground.
I’m so thankful to look back at the example of my Mother, who has never stopped laboring, right from the day I was born. Labors of love, one after another, her gifts to me and my siblings. Selfless. Tireless. Continuously generous. Thank you, Mama. This is what it looks like to pour yourself out in love — we are privileged recipients.
Lord, help me love these children like my Mama loved me.
Although we don’t live in the biggest house or drive the nicest cars in town, we feel like we’re about the richest family in our little town, because these three children are ours, and they’re like those flowers in the carport. It takes effort — at times, it’s doggedly hard. But be still, take off your shoes, look carefully and see — there are so many gifts in this journey called parenthood. I could start counting and I’d run out of paper before I ran out of gifts on the list.
Sometimes you have to turn aside to see your gifts, friends. Take off your shoes and see the holy in your every day. There are flowers in your carport too — you might just need to make a little effort to see them.
And around late October? We’re looking forward to an exponential increase in joy. We’ll be unwrapping the gift of one more little person joining our family.
We’re excited, we’re thrilled and we’re not April Foolin’ this time.
Here’s to bucketloads more flowers in our carport.