very, very much
Four years ago today my oldest, Luke, was born. And it was an awesome day. He was over a week late- as were all three of mine- and, in late August, IN FLORIDA, his delivery couldn't have come sooner. I guess I just cook my babies on a low, slow boil. Like crawfish, they tended to need to soak a while before they're ready.
His first birthday approached and I got to WORK. His favorite book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I was a freshly teacher-turned-Mom, so I was obsessed. This was, if y'all can believe it, BEFORE PINTEREST so I was largely on my own in terms of inspiration, but I still managed to create a massive tissue paper caterpillar on our mantle and bake a cake large enough to feel Rhode Island and create and hang both house and yard decorations.(Ask my friend, Olivia, about the three trial cakes I baked, decorated and gave away before his party because I had to get it just right. Mercy. I had cakes in my house for weeks before his party. I'm surprised I didn't send us all into diabetic shock.) It has still, to date, been the biggest party blow out that I have undertaken. Sorry Josie and Nathan- it's a firstborn-first-birthday-thing. BONUS, however, is that I will be able to reuse all the decorations for Nathan's first birthday in October.
(Again, sorry, Nathan. Momma's got to be able to put all that hard work to use at least one more time. After this, you can pick any birthday party you want. ::promise::)
The day of the party came and our house was jam packed. Every relative from every city, from four states away showed up to help us celebrate with Luke. (He, of course, was just worried about chewing on the bows and wrapping paper scraps.) It was a noisy, messy, chaotic, whirl wind afternoon. Punch was made and ice cream was churned and prayers were prayed and food was eaten and drinks were spilled and songs were sung and candles were blown out and cake was cut and naps were missed and it was perfect.
It wasn't until later that night that I cried. It was after the lagniappe cake was put away and the balloons came down and the house was finally quiet that it happened. I sat down in the nursery, holding Luke and wept. That's probably not the best description. I cried buckets and buckets and buckets of tears. They were happy tears and sad tears and first-trimester-hormonal tears and tired tears and scared tears and worried tears and uncertain tears and proud tears. I cried for every emotion I had encountered in the twelve short months I had endured after finally becoming a mother, but mostly- they were thankful tears.
Because I was. I was so thankful that I was the one chosen to be his Mom. Out of every person on the planet, God picked me. ME. He saw a part of goodness in my heart, in my mind, in my soul that He knew would make me a good Mom to him. It was a small part, a quiet little, untouched place that all Mom's have- I just had to use it. I had to find that place- that soft place for my Luke to land- and enlarge it. I had to grow that little area of goodness in my soul so that the more Luke would need it, the more would be available to him. I needed to become a farmer.
I needed to pasture this land in my heart for him so there were areas that I had to eliminate. I had to bush hog them down, disc them up, dig out the rocks and roots and tree stumps, pile them up and BURN THEM to the ground. Now that I was a mother- there was no room for selfishness. There was no room for empty conceit. There was no room for pettiness or strife or jealousy or slander. I needed to take those areas and slash and burn so I could grow a better crop. And it was HARD. And it was a never ending amount of work. I'm still working to keep out the weeds and hedge bushes that crop up when I let an area of my heart pasture lay fallow for too long. I'll be a constant gardener in this farming called motherhood for my entire life.
And that's why I cried. Because entering motherhood was the strongest refining fire I'd ever been through. And birthdays are a milestone marking another year that I've survived that fire. It's an opportunity to look back at the months that have passed and think about the fields I've kept. I think about the weeds and briars and brambles I've pulled up in my heart that year. The ones that were rooted so deeply that it took some serious digging and praying and praising for me to finally get them out. And then, when I finally did and was able to plant that freshly turned soil with patience and goodness and honesty and love- I cry. Because I want to give my babies' fertile soil. Because I'm thankful that, with His help, I can.
Motherhood has made me a better person. It's given me a divine responsibility to become the best Christian, the best wife, the best Mom, the best daughter, the best sister that I can be. It has refined me in ways that only Motherhood could. And, as hard and grueling and gut wrenching as it is- I feel blessed to be able to do it.
My prayer is that my heart will always give them a soft place to land.
Happy 4th Birthday, Luke.
(Now let's go eat some waffles to celebrate.)