Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jack, 5 & 100

Dear Jack,
Thirteen days ago, you turned five. I've been thinking of how far you and I have both come in that half decade. And though my words won't do it justice, I will try, in my 100th blog post, to tell you what's seeping out of my heart as I watch you grow.

When I took this picture of you above -- just two days old and getting ready to leave that awful hospital -- I wasn't happy. (Frankly, neither were you. If you weren't nursing, you weren't happy.). I didn't want to be a mom, and definitely not then, when I was only 22 and thought I knew everything.

I had my reasons for shrinking away from motherhood. And thanks to the therapy of years, a fabulous doula and a patient God, I can understand them now. Instead of feeling guilty over what was, I can rejoice over what is.

Because this is what is:

You. Hysterical, handsome, wonderful, generous, loving, mischievous you.

With your Uncle Jonny's cleft in your chin, your daddy's cowlick(s) and your Grandpa Dale's everything else, your physical beauty often leaves me speechless. I know every mother most likely feels that way, but still...who wouldn't fall for your chocolate brown eyes, loooong eyelashes (thank you, Nick) and Norman Rockwell freckles?

So sure, you're cute (or handsome, as you would correct me, because only baby girls and kittens/puppies are cute). But the essence of you goes far beyond that.

Your social butterfly tendencies mean that every kid who knows you likes you, including frilly girls who abhor Legos and mud. You can strike up a conversation with anyone, from our elderly neighbors (whom he spends time with nearly every day, by the way) to the baby in a cart at the grocery store.

You're smart, blowing my mind with your ability to dissect any object within seconds, firing a litany of questions all the while. You read, add and subtract. And while your brain tends to vanish while you're on a bike, I know it's just a different kind of education for you. Because you love to learn, plain and simple. (And thank God for first aid kits).

If Gary Chapman knew you, he would point out the obvious: your love language is words of affirmation. That is how you receive love, and that is how you give it. So yes, son, I think your tower is fantastic, and I love spending time with you. And thank you for telling me 50 times a day that I'm the best, prettiest, sweetest mommy. Please don't stop. Ever.

You're chivalrous, complimenting my outfits and holding doors for women, and you've already figured out girls love to get gifts. So when you raided my present stash last month and gave a nail polish kit to your friend Emma -- even wrapping it, for goodness' sake -- who was I to tell you no?

You're surprising. Who would have ever guessed that the little boy who loved to jump his bike, get dirty, wrestle and catch worms also loved to bake cookies, decorate and help me choose my jewelry and accessories every day?

Though you're only five, you've given me plenty of hints as to what I can expect in the future. And I like what I see.

When you tattle on your brother, you tell me that justice is important to you and always will be. (But really, give tattling a break. It's kind of getting old).

When you climb things you shouldn't, you let me know that fear will not ever stop you from trying, failing, trying again and then succeeding.

When you pray every night for our Compassion children, naming all five on two continents, you're showing me that "least of these" matter to you. When you fervently ask God to find a home for Colt, complete with a mommy, daddy and lots of toys, I know that the proverbial little guy has a firm hold in your heart, and that your faith is strong.

When you dash around the house, karate-chopping invisible bad guys, I see in you the heart of a warrior. Like all boys and men, God has gifted you with the desire to rescue.

It doesn't matter who needs help, you are ready and willing to give it within seconds. I am your princess, and you are my knight in plastic, made-in-China armor.

Jack, mission accomplished. You have rescued me just by being you, from my self-built prison of arrogance, fear and selfishness. You've shown me that being a mom truly is the best path in life for me, and I couldn't be happier.

When I tucked you in the other night, you held my face in your hands and stroked my cheek. "I love you so much, Mom," you whispered. "Thank you, son," I answered. "Have I told you that there's nothing sweeter in the world than being your mommy?"

He rolled over and smiled groggily, pointing to the ceiling. "No, Mom, there is something sweeter," he said. "God."

So I guess I have two rescuers to thank.

*Thanks so much to all my new readers for entering the Dorcas Smucker book giveaway. Rhoda from Corona, New York was the winner and should be enjoying her prize right now! Thanks to all for entering, and stick around Crystal's Cliffnotes for more giveaways in the future.