Every night as I thrust myself into bed, my eyes glance over to the large 12x12 homemade Mother’s Day card made by you and Daddy that is covered in pictures of us. Some of the pictures show my swollen belly bursting with child; some are of you as a tiny newborn that I had absolutely no clue what to do with (so much so, that I thought I had to have a whole list of educational to-dos ready to go when you were two weeks old); many of them are of you in a favorite spot of mine: my arms; some of a toddler learning to walk or discovering new things. But all of them are of a baby-faced boy. Somehow before my very eyes your face has matured into a young boy’s, more mature, more man-child-like. And the pang in my chest when looking at pictures that show treasured moments too quick to pass leaves me breathless some nights.
In your three and a half years, the past year marks some of your most significant growth and developments, and with your burgeoning vocabulary and understanding, some of the most hilarious moments of my life.
You are the one who…
- All in a nine month period of time transferred to a big boy bed from your crib; became a big brother; gave up your paci; started school 2 mornings a week; and potty trained. On top of all that, you ROCKED each one of those, surprising me and Daddy at how well you did, and floored us that really, we had so little to do with your success in each one.
- Still comes to me to wipe your tears away and kiss your owies.
- Astounds us one moment with your big-boy talk and understanding, and then depending on your mood or what you want to act like (i.e. Curious George), reverts back to baby talk in seconds. It can be a little annoying to some of us your momma.
- Carries around my worn out pocket Bible given to me for my 1979 baptism and calls it yours, flipping through its pages reading about Jesus.
- Can make your sister laugh. She is a tough egg to crack, but you hold the magic potion to her smiles.
- Loves, loves, loves to read books.
- Has a classic type-A personality. Cases in point: “No, that’s not a car, that’s a truck.”; “Sherriff is not blue, he’s black.”
- Can’t stand to get dirty and who chooses to wipe all his dirtiness on someone else rather than your own shorts or heaven forbid, the grass.
- Entertains yourself well, with cars being your first go-to toy.
- Beckons me to come to your room at night because you want more kisses. “Lots of kisses, Momma. Another big kiss, Momma.” This is in spite of the fact that you put on a very good front pretending not to like them.
- Has a secret way you and I say, “I love you,” so if there’s ever a time you don’t want to say it aloud but you still want a way to tell me, I got you covered with our secret sign.
- Can’t keep secrets…the secret “I love you” sign is the only exception. Otherwise, you spill the beans quickly with every indication that you enjoy ruining the surprise.
- Eats like a 16 year old. The only things you’re not hot on eating are yogurt and mango salad. And avocado (unless it’s guacamole. Go figure). You do a pretty good job trying things at least once.
This picture was taken Easter Sunday when you downed an adult sized breakfast platter of blueberry pancakes, eggs, hash browns and fruit.
- Has the most tender spirit, quick to recognize when there’s something amiss in your heart. One awry look or tone from us and you break down in tears.
- Was marked by my leaving for a week to Guatemala in a number of ways, one of which being that you now regularly say, “Don’t leave me, Momma. Don’t lose me.”
- Breaks out dancing to music in public places and at home, and even has learned your Momma’s art of making up your own jingles. That trait was passed down through your Mees.
- Thinks your Daddy hung the moon! At times I catch you standing like him, with your hand on your hip.
- Says, “Jesus is here,” in your bedroom as you fall asleep. Ever since you told Kensie Jane that Jesus wasn’t in her room but just in yours, you’re slowly starting to realize that somehow, even though we can’t see Him, He’s everywhere we go. The first night in our Colorado cabin, you declared, “Jesus is here.” Yes, child. He is. And He loves being with us.
- Has energy I cannot fathom. You wipe me out, boy! And I have no idea how you can keep saying, “Momma, come play!” over and over and over and over. Aren’t you worn out?
- Takes very good care of your sister and loves her well. I can only pray your friendship keeps growing and deepening. You are a kind soul. Although we’re constantly reminding you to have gentle hands and to not grab toys from her.
- Is a homebody.
- Loves going to baseball games!
- Picks flowers for me.
- In the last few months has offered to pray out loud for us at dinner.
- Makes me laugh with how you reason and put things together, and also has me in awe at how much you’re learning. Example:
- B: The spider got married, Momma. (In reference to a book he read.)
- M: Who is momma married to?
- B: God.
- M: Why did I marry God?
- B: Because He’s special.
- M: Are you going to get married one day?
- B: No, I can’t get married.
- M: Why not?
- B: Because I can’t leave my home.
- Has been trained well by Daddy to hold the door open for me and others.
- Likes things in their places.
- Had your first campout with Daddy and loved it.
- Has taken up pouting and strategically shrugs your shoulders when something doesn’t go your way or when you get corrected.
- Is a chocolate connoisseur in the making.
- Is learning the difference between when we’re joking and being serious.
- Can figure out a good puzzle; you’ve shocked us with how apt you are at putting together a puzzle of the U.S.
- Has keen, observant eyes and attentive ears when we’re outside. You notice rolly pollies on walks and goes to lengthy measures to make sure I don’t run over them; hear the distinctive sound of cardinals; find pretty flowers; and you will stop playing with me to be still and watch fields of butterflies whishing through tall grass. At each siting you excitedly point them out to me and say, “Oh, that is beautiful!” You have eyes and ears to recognize beauty.
- Can be fearful. Bugs. Planes. Crawfish. Weird noises. You can be hesitant to try new things to do. You have a strong need to feel safe and secure. But in some things you are so brave, like learning to swim and riding horses. After extra encouragement and patience to wait until you’re ready, you end up trying things with gusto.
- Loves God’s creatures and will say that each one is your “best friend”. You worry if one of them is by themselves asking where are his friends, where is his home.
- Asks for books to read on the potty.
- Is still a snuggle bug and lifts up your shirt during bedtime to stroke your back and tummy.
- Could win an Emmy for Best Actor (for both comedy and drama). Your facial expressions can be over the top hilarious…and can also make me roll my eyes.
- Says, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” repeatedly like a parrot until noticed.
- Will mount a horse without a moment’s hesitation! And the bigger the horse the better! You’re my cowboy.
- Is determined. While we’d consider you a pretty good listener, if you have your mind set on something, a conflict can quickly arise.
- Makes me swoon when you make me things.
- When nearing the finish of our two hour hike (one way) started saying how hard it was, listened to Psalty’s “One Step at a Time” with me and shouted with raised hands, “We made it! It wasn’t that hard! We made it!”, when we finally reached our destination.
The one thing about you right now that sticks out to me most in my sentimental state is captured by this picture:
You are the one who wants to hold my hand.
Up the mountain. Down the mountain. In the parking lot. Walking into your classroom.
You want to hold my hand.
I let the sweetness of that affection steep into me. I know the inevitability of its transient nature. You’re three and a half. Your holding my hand isn’t so much about need anymore as it is your own desire to still clasp your small hand in mine, to walk alongside me, to be near.
So as I close, my prayer for you in this moment is that you, my precious boy, would grow in perseverance and courage to walk whatever life work God has set out for you. However large the mountain; however steep the incline or slippery the slopes; however slow or hard it seems, that you’d continue to admire His beauty along the way because He and His creation are gorgeous! And may you know that no matter what, I’ll always be there to clasp your hand in support. And better yet, may you set your heart and eyes upon the faithful God who is always with you, in your bedroom as you sleep and upon the mountain on which you climb.
Go for it, Brennan Matthew!
I love you. I love you. I love you.