Halfway There

Birth and Coming Home 530

This weekend we are reaching a new milestone in our parenting journey: the halfway point. On Sunday our oldest son, David, will turn 9 years old which means he will be halfway to the age of 18…which means that he will officially be halfway to adulthood.

Mic drop.

Somehow I blinked and nine years flew by. I swear to you it was just yesterday that I was sitting on my living room couch at 42 weeks pregnant with David, re-reading my worn out copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting and writing out my (extremely detailed) birth plan. I felt very ready, and very in control (Aren’t new mothers precious?!).

But then David was born. I realized very quickly how very unready and utterly not in control I actually was. Literally nothing about his birth went according to my plan, and I was introduced to perhaps the most important first lesson of parenting: Letting Go.

As parents we are continually forced to let go–to let go of our own plans for our children, to let go of the life we think they should live, to let go of our own control so that they can become who they were meant to be. In this way, I think children are the ultimate tools of sanctification. Every time I see how little I control in my kids’ lives, I am reminded that God ultimately has a unique plan for each of us–and the quicker I can get out of the way and trust Him, the better.

Because what an amazing plan He has!

I look at David and I can see the beginnings of this plan in new ways every day. For instance, when I see David’s intense knowledge of Pokémon I wonder at how his singular focus and depth of knowledge will serve him in his future career. When I see his friends who are kind and silly and spunky just like him, I have hope for the types of relationships he will build throughout his life. When I see him stick up for a child that is getting picked on, I have confidence that he will be an ally as he gets older. When I see his perpetually messy-like-a-hurricane-just-passed-through-it room, I just pray for a wife for him who is blind to messes and/or the most patient woman in the world.

This halfway point is a strange place to be in. To me, it feels like we’re still just getting started. We’re still figuring it out, one learned lesson after another. In fact, if these 18 years of child-rearing were a single hill of a roller coaster, right now I’m still ker-plunking our way to the top of the initial summit. The days are long *ker-plunk*, the days are long *ker-plunk*, the days are long *ker-plunk*.

But now, at 9 years in, I’m at the crest of the hill. I can see what lies ahead, and it looks like it’s going to be a wild ride!

And just like the roller coaster, I have a feeling that these next nine years are going to fly by much faster than the first nine. The distances, as far as time is concerned, are equal. But I know better than to trust something as fleeting as time.

I am quite certain that I will blink again and we’ll be at the bottom of the roller coaster hill. I fully anticipate that these next nine years will evaporate before my very eyes. The downhill rush of the next nine years will probably bring our biggest joys and our biggest challenges–which is both thrilling and terrifying. But I’m ready for it, because we’ve got a good driver (the best, in fact).

In the end, I’m just a passenger. I’m along for the ride, not driving this crazy train. I can buckle us all in and hold on tight, but we’re going down the hill no matter what I do. So, from now until the ride comes to a complete stop, I’m going to trust the One who’s driving us. I know that this will require me to let go–but isn’t the roller coaster more thrilling when you release the bar and throw your hands in the air?

Now that we’re here at the crest of the hill–halfway there–I look forward to what is to come. The future is promising, and I can’t wait to go on this ride with my favorite nine year old in the world.

Happy birthday, David!

 

 

Dear Kindergartener

  
Dear Son (Who Is Now A Kindergartener),

For the past 5 1/2 years I have alternated between dreading this day and pleading for it to arrive: your first day of kindergarten. And now it is here. The day I had been anticipating and wondering about and preparing you for and praying over is actually really truly happening. Tomorrow is the big day. In the morning you will wake up a new person, a Big Kid Kindergartener. Not my baby or my toddler or my preschooler, but my school kid. And I couldn’t be more proud.

You are an amazing person. Did you know that? God has created you to be uniquely you, and you are utterly and perfectly who He wants you to be. He made you to be loving and passionate and feisty and strong. He made you with Big Feelings. He gave you a deep desire to fiercely protect the underdog. He made you to be curious and creative. He made you to run and jump and climb like an American Ninja Warrior. He made you silly. There is no other you, and you are wonderful.

The world is full of incredible people and incredible moments, but it can also be harsh. So, when the world starts to tell you that you isn’t good or isn’t good enough, remember how amazing you are. Keep your head up like the warrior that you are, and be confident in the you that God has created. Up until now you’ve been under the shelter of my wing, but now it’s time for you to spread your own wings. As you venture out into the world, you will become more and more independent each day. Carry on strong as you make your own mark in the world, because I can’t wait to see what that mark will look like!

So when you wake up tomorrow morning (probably tired) and you refuse to eat your breakfast (because you hate eating in the morning), I hope you are at least a little bit excited. Excited to meet your teacher and classmates and new friends on the playground. Excited to find your seat at the table and sit in circle time (it will be a lot of sitting…just try to enjoy the rest).  Excited to play in the science corner and the art table and the dramatic play center. Excited to learn more about reading and numbers and telling your own stories. Excited to listen respectfully and take turns and be a good sport. Excited, most of all, for the grand adventure you’re about to begin. Because this year? This year is the beginning of one of the greatest journeys of your life.

Enjoy the ride, my not-so-little boy.  I am so very proud of you and I am 100% for you. Be kind, be happy, be attentive. Sometimes (if the teacher isn’t looking) be really super silly. Be you. Because you is amazing, and

I.

Love.

You.

XOXOXOX,
Mommy

P.S. If you see me tomorrow morning and my face is extra watery, just know that it’s a common condition that all kindergarten mommies undergo on the first day of school. It’s a love leak. It will likely reoccur during many of your milestones, including but not limited to: Any and every graduation (kindergarten, High School, College, Masters Degree, PhD, Doctorate, etc.), losing your first tooth, winning a participation trophy in Little League, every time you give me flowers,  getting your drivers’ license, seeing you in a tux on prom night, whenever those dang Facebook Memories pop up and I see you as a baby, and your wedding.

 

The Important Thing About My Son

There is this boy.
He’s loud and silly.
He has an incredible memory.
He is a ball of infectious energy.
He’s usually vaguely sticky and covered in dirt.
He dreams about attacking gummy bears that he fends off with nun-chucks.
He’s feisty and passionate.
He’s strong and fearless.
His name is David. He is my boy, my baby, my son.

When I look at David, this is what I see. I am his mama, and I love him deeply. He is truly unique and wonderfully made. He doesn’t fit a mold, and I kind of like that. And it kind of makes me crazy.

This year has been–how shall I put this–challenging.  Throughout the course of this year it has become apparent that David learns differently from many of his peers. A lot of what we’d always done just wasn’t working any more, and it’s been frustrating. Preschool has been difficult. Our little Bible study group has been difficult. Discipline has been difficult. Even so-much-fun T-Ball has been difficult. We have shared our concerns with his teachers and specialists. And it’s all got me doubting. Doubting every decision I’ve made in the past that has led us to this place, and questioning every decision I’ve already made for our future.

The fact is, David has been weighing heavy on my heart lately. Sometimes (most of the time) I just don’t know what to do. So I pray, and cry, and pray, and laugh, and try something new, and pray again. And you know what? Something miraculous is happening.

God is changing our hearts.

He is changing my heart to be more compassionate about the struggles David is facing. He is changing my heart to embrace the person who David is, not who I want or expect him to be. He is changing my heart to accept that I may need to give up some of my own comfort to help David succeed. He is changing my heart to be more like His.

He is changing David’s heart to be more attentive to Him. To listen. To ask questions. To pray to Him. To tell others about Him. To love Him. He is changing David’s heart to be more like His.

A couple of weeks ago we were doing a family Bible study leading up to Easter. We were talking about the significance of the cross, and David was really excited about the story. He was attentive and asking heartfelt questions, and we could tell that things were starting to click for him. At the end of our time together, Jon asked David if he would like to pray and ask Jesus to come into his heart. David said yes–and in his sweet 4-year old boy voice, he asked Jesus to be his forever friend.

In that moment, I knew that the only specialist who actually matters is the One who created him. The One who intimately knows his heart and mind and soul. The One who knows David’s past, his current struggles, and the man he will some day become. The One who knit him together in my womb, who loves him deepest, and whose beautiful thoughts about David outnumber all the grains of sand in all the earth (Psalm 139). And suddenly all of the doubts and fears and confusion I’d had melted away and were replaced by joy. 

There will be challenging days, and challenging phases and challenging seasons in this adventure called parenting. But in the scheme of things, none of the challenges really matter. No matter how difficult things might get, no matter how tightly I’m grasping the end of my rope, only one thing really has lasting significance: Who is my son in Christ? Who am I in Christ? The answers to those questions change everything. We–my son, myself, and the collective whole of humanity–have been saved by grace, and the assurance of that truth never fades.

So, yes.
My son is loud and silly.
My son has an incredible memory.
My son is a ball of infectious energy.
My son is usually vaguely sticky and covered in dirt.
My son dreams about attacking gummy bears that he fends off with nun-chucks.
My son is feisty and passionate.
My son is strong and fearless.
My son has challenges.
But the important thing about my son is that he loves Jesus.

He is my son and I am his imperfect mother, but we are both secure in our Father’s hands.

And nothing will ever change that.

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A Birthday Letter To My 4-Year Old Son

Birth and Coming Home 530Before my oldest son was born, I started writing letters to him. It was my way of sharing with him some of our journey together. I would document important days, like the day I found out I was pregnant and the day he was born. And now, four years later, the tradition continues.

Today is David’s 4th birthday and, like most days as a parent, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. It must have been just yesterday that I first gazed into those newborn eyes and held his warm little body close to my heart for the first time. And, as much as I’d like it to, time does not stand still. In fact, when you have young children, I think you actually enter some sort of warp-speed time zone where the years actually melt away every time you blink (perhaps the lack of sleep that comes with the territory has something to do with it!).

At any rate, time goes on and our children grow up a little bit more each day. There will never be another today, and yesterday is already a day behind us. As a way to help preserve some of these precious moments, I write them down (which is a good thing for posterity, because I think I’m literally losing my mind most days).

So, today on this momentous day in David’s life, I have written him a letter. This is a letter to my son from my mother’s heart. Happy birthday, little Day-Day. I love you most!

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October 27, 2014
Campbell, California
You are 4 years old!

Dearest David,
As I sit down to write your annual birthday letter this year I am struck by something that makes me both excited and a bit sad at the same time–you are no longer a baby. I started writing to you before you were even born. With each letter I imagined what you would be like, who this baby would be. And now, 4 years later, I am starting to see. You are no longer a baby, but a boy who is “fearfully and wonderfully made”, a unique person who God created and chose to be part of our family.

Now that you are such a big boy, I see more and more of YOU every day–the you that makes you David, and nobody else. You are outgoing. You are confident. You are brave. You are independent. You are strong. You are adventurous. You are passionate. You are loving. You are exactly who God wanted you to be, and I am so grateful that I get to watch you grow into YOU each and every day.

This has been a big year for you, monumental. You have adapted to every change and adventure that we threw at you–and there have been lots of them! From living in Ireland to traveling the world to moving around the world for the second time in your short life, you have handled everything like a pro. In every new place and new situation you welcomed the change and carried on with confidence. You were quick to make new friends and explore your new surroundings. I’m sure that these things–seeing the world, meeting new people, exploring–will always be a part of your life.

About a month ago we moved into  our new house in California–your 4th house in 4 years! Almost every day you make some remark about how it’s always sunny in California. Other people think it’s funny, but I totally get it! After all of our years living in the rain, sun is a gift. You spend most of every day outside playing in our back yard, walking to the park, throwing balls for Bota, and inviting friends over for play dates (your new best friend, Presley, lives next door and you two play at each others’ houses every day!).

When you aren’t playing outside, you enjoy playing “Toy Story”. You love the movie “Toy Story” and you already have several of the toys from the movie. Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head are your favorites, but you also love the army guys (and you’re hoping to get your own Woody and Rex for your birthday).

You still play ball, but you aren’t obsessed with balls any more like you were when you were younger. Basketball is your favorite, so we’re going to try to sign you up for a team this winter. You also love swimming, but hate riding bikes (for some reason I just can’t understand). 

Mimi is still your lovey and she sleeps with you every night. Some day I’m sure you’ll decide you’re too big to sleep with a stuffed monkey, but for now she is your friend and your protector.

And, as far as protectors go, you are starting to be quite a good one yourself! You love your little brother and, when you aren’t trying to wrestle him or steal his toys, you are very caring toward him. You insist on being the one to go get Jacob up from his nap every day. I stand outside the door when you go in to get him and I love listening to you greet him with “Good morning, Honey!”. I pray that God would grow the love you have for your brother and that you would care for, lead, and protect him throughout your life.

David, my son, it has been a joy watching you grow and change and mature this year. I am so pleased with the boy that you are, and I can’t wait to see the man who you become some day. Your middle name, Jeremiah, comes from this verse:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

Today on your fourth birthday, that is my prayer for you. That your life would follow God’s plan–and that I would be able to help you see that plan. That God would prosper you with the love of His Son, the Lord Jesus. That you would have hope in God, your first parent. That your future would be as bright and magnificent as your little 4-year old dreams. That you would continue to grow into YOU with the joy that comes from Above.

David, you are no longer a baby. What you are is a gift, a blessing, a privilege. You are no longer a baby, but as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. Thank you for letting me be your mommy.

I love you most!

~Mommy

A Love Letter To My Baby On His First Birthday

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Today is my baby’s first birthday. How did that happen? I really can’t believe that it’s already been a year–turns out, time moves forward in warp speed when you have two young children. Each day is a balancing act of making memories and basic survival. I’ve mostly got the survival part down now, and I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job in the “making memories” department this year, as well.

When I was pregnant with my first child I started writing him letters. I didn’t know who this baby would be yet, but I already knew that I loved him. I wrote my first “baby love letter” the day I found out I was pregnant–and I continued writing to him throughout my pregnancy. I did the same thing with my second child, and I still write my boys letters periodically. Whenever something important happens I will write my son a letter to let him know what I was thinking and feeling in that moment. I want to capture the memories.

Maybe some day when my boys are much older and I give them these letters, they’ll enjoy seeing what was going on in their crazy mom’s mind as they were growing up. And, even if they don’t appreciate them, I know that I’ll be glad I wrote down my thoughts during this busy time in our life where I usually can’t even remember what I had for breakfast.

I always hand-write the letters–there’s something so much more personal and intimate about a hand-written letter. It shows that I took the time and the care to pull out some nice paper and get sore fingers from gripping the pen. I start by writing the date, location, and age of my son at the top of the page. The rest is just my un-edited thoughts–whatever first comes to my mind get’s put on the page.

So, on this most momentous of days, I had to write a letter to my dear little Jacob (transcription below). Happy birthday, little snuggle bear!

July 26, 2013
Cork, Ireland
You are 1 year old!

Dear Jacob,

Wow–I can’t believe you are already ONE! Where did this year go?! It seems like just yesterday that I met you and held your sweet, tiny body next to mine for the first time. And, yet, here we are a whole year later.

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This has been a truly remarkable year. You have grown and changed so much from that tiny bundle we brought home last July. Now you are crawling all over the place– gotta keep up with your big brother David! you pull up on furniture and even try to climb the stairs. For most of this year you’ve been content to stay where I put you, but now your adventurous side is starting to come out! I hope that as you grow older you are bold to take new risks–and that you learn from your journeys, no matter the outcome.

Ireland Allisons iPhone - 0251Speaking of journeys, this has been quite the year of journeys for you! At 12 months old you’ve already seen more of the world than many people get to see in their lives. We’ve taken you all around the great state of Washington, to Arizona, to California, and even 2 trips to Europe!

About 2 weeks ago we moved to Cork, Ireland. Your dad and I were just talking about how your first memories in life will take place here in Ireland. Your first steps, first conversations, and first friends will all begin in this beautiful place. We know that as you get older you probably won’t remember a lot about our years here in Ireland, but I hope that our time here will lay a strong foundation for your life.

On this very special day, Jacob, I am praying for you and your foundation. My greatest hope and prayer for you is that with each passing day and each passing year you will grow closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. If you’ve got Jesus, you will be set for life. Don’t ever forget that!

I pray that you will always draw close to God–the same way that you draw close to me now whenever you are tired or scared or needing some extra love. God will give you rest, He will protect you, and–most importantly–He will always love you. He is the only one who could ever possible love you more than I do–and that’s a big, big love!

I love you, Jacob Daniel. I love your cuddles, I love your giggles, I love your little snarl nose, I love your laid-back approach to life (I’m learning a bit of this from you already!). I love the way you trill your tongue when you’re upset and the way you bubble your lips when you’re happy. I love your curly hair, your bright blue eyes and your chubby little thighs. I love the way you play with my hair ALL THE TIME (thanks to you, my new–and only–hairstyle is a tight bun). I love the way you watch to learn, the way you imitate those around you, and the way you tolerate–even enjoy–your brother’s antics. You are a very special boy, Jacob, and I love you very much.

Happy first birthday to my sweet little son. May this be just the beginning of many wonderful years to come! Thank you for letting me be your mommy!

Love,
Mama

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Note: If you enjoyed reading this post, check out my most recent letter to Jacob for his second birthday! Read the letter here.