Oliver turned three on Monday. We celebrated with a little party on Sunday evening in our back yard, complete with gorgeous fall foliage and a mini hayride for the kids.
All week Oliver would go up to complete strangers and say, “I’m havin a party! Wanna come eat cake?”
He woke up from his nap on Sunday afternoon, sat down on the basements steps to talk to me while I cleaned, and ask, “Is it time for my parrrteeee yet?”
“Not yet,” I said. “We have just a few more hours.”
“I’m havin cake,” he whispered to himself.
It’s fun seeing how my kids are so different. It’s fun seeing them grow and develop and change. It’s fun to see their little personalties start to bud and to watch them become someone completely their own.
Oliver is outgoing, funny, and bit of a ham. He ran around with the big kids at his party, thrilled to be hanging with the older boys. He ate three helpings of food. He opened his presents with such excitement, then ran up to the gift-givers for a hug and a kiss.
At three, he is so full of life, fun, and silliness that it’s hard to picture him as a baby. Is that a bad thing? I don’t want to forget my kids’ baby-ness, and I know that’s probably not a real concern with all the photos, the Chatbooks, etc. But it’s bittersweet, to love the person they are becoming yet mourn the loss of their babyhood.
I look forward to growing with my kids. I know that each stage will hold it’s joys and wonders, as well as it’s challenges and struggles. I know that three will be great, because one and two were great.
Maybe the sadness stems from an awareness that time stops for no one. It continues to march on, whether we are ready for the next day or not. Whether we are ready for the next age, or not. Part of me feels like the kids reach a new age or stage of development juuuust about the time that I start to feel as though I’ve got a handle on the old one.
Maybe the sadness is more of a recognition that I’ll never actually have a handle on any of this. There is no figuring it out. There is only now – living and loving with lots of grace, forgiveness, and joy.
On Monday, the day of his birthday, I wanted to celebrate with doughnuts but was tempted to stay local to keep things simple. But I had a new doughnut spot I’ve wanted to try for awhile now, and I decided we were going to make an adventure out of it.
Besides, what is the point of all of this if we can’t do things just for the sake of the experience? Just for the sake of fun? Of celebration?
We went for a drive. I introduced Oliver to The Clash. He head banged and air drummed his little heart out. We drove through some show-stopping countryside. We found the little doughnut shop and picked out half a dozen to take home to share, and sat down with a few to enjoy right then and there. We went for a walk along the water. The fall foliage was in full effect, and we would stop every now and then to just take it in: the warm air, the water, the leaves.
Every now and then I would look over at Oliver and say, “Happy birthday, buddy.”
Without stopping to look up he would smile and say, “Thank you!”
I would smile too, “Thank you” becoming the silent prayer of my heart for the day.
Thank you for life and it’s seasons of change. Thank you for new life in the form of babies and the children they grow to become. Thank you for the gift of motherhood. Thank you for the recognition that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can’t be perfect. Nothing that variable could ever be perfected.
All I have to be, is present. Here, now, with them. I just have to lay down my expectations and open my eyes to the experience right in front of me. Open my eyes to the wonder that is raising children, through all the changes, through all the seasons, through all the ages. We don’t get yesterday back, but we do get something better. We get today.
Now – is now.