Monday, July 27, 2009

One Whole Hand

Today you are five. You are one whole hand old. How can that be? It was just yesterday that I was bringing you home from the hospital, wasn't it? Where did that time go and how can I get it to slow down a little?

I don't want to keep you from growing up. Growing up and growing away is a good thing. I just don't want it to happen quite so fast...

Almost six years ago, we discovered that God had plans for our family; plans that we hadn't counted on. Your daddy and I were pretty certain that we wouldn't have any more children. Your brother Sean was the "baby" of the family. As a family of 5, we had settled into a routine. We had changed our defense from man-to-man to a zone defense and it was running like a well-oiled machine. And then, God laughed. He laughed at our silliness in thinking that we control a single thing. And He, in His infinite and loving (and sometimes humorous) wisdom, decided that what our family really needed was you.

And you know what? He was right! (Well, there's a shocker, eh? God being right...)

Our family needed you. You became the final piece of the quilt. The last stitch binding us more closely together. Maggie was thrilled to have a sister. I was thrilled for her because I had always wanted a sister. Your brother James was excited about a new baby. Sean was happy not to be the "baby" any more and equally excited at the prospect of having someone to boss around.

My pregnancy with you was the most difficult of them all. You made me very sick and I was tired every minute of every day right up until you were born. (I'm not sure I've recovered yet. I've heard that I won't stop being tired until my children leave and then I'll still be tired because I'll be OLD.) You continued the excitement right up until your entrance into the world by needing an emergency C-section to arrive safely.

But! When I woke and saw your sweet little face and your perfect fingers--suddenly I couldn't imagine life without you. It was a seamless transition. It was as if you had always been a part of our family. God is awesome like that. Knowing what you need and yearn for when you don't even know it yourself.

You were the greatest show-and-tell for your brothers and sisters. They couldn't wait to show you off to neighbors and friends. You were a snuggler. I loved to hold you long after you'd gone to sleep and should've put you to bed. You, unlike your brother, didn't enjoy the baby swing; wanted nothing to do with it, really, preferring to be held. Especially when it was inconvenient for me--like when I was trying to cook dinner, help with homework, and wrangle your then 3 year old brother Sean into using the potty.

You have always had the most astonishingly beautiful blue eyes. Strangers still comment on them. And you have used them to great advantage--especially with your daddy. (A trait you and you sister both seem to have. I cannot imagine where that came from!)

Your pacifier was your best friend for the longest time. Yet, when it was time to give it up, you readily accepted the doll the Passie Fairy left for you and never inquired about it's whereabouts.

Wilson, your stuffed dog, is still your best friend and bedtime companion. If he's not in your bedroom at bedtime, the entire family engages in the hunt until we've found him. I hope you will keep him forever.

You are, and always have been, my pickiest eater, my loudest screamer, and my worst sleeper. I often joke that if you had been my first child, you would have been an only child. But you are also incredibly sweet, very funny, and (when you're not screaming) fun to have around. You will not walk with me without holding my hand. You call me "mama" and snuggle into my neck. Sometimes I think you would burrow under my skin if you could--thus we have given you the nickname "Tick." What's funny is that you respond to it. You find it complimentary and nod when I ask if you would climb in my skin.

You are my girlie girl. You like dresses and dolls and pink and sparkly things. You are a breath of fresh air. You make me want to stop what I'm doing to play. As my last child, I often find myself focusing on those "last moments."

There are times when I think, with sadness, "this will be the last time I _____," Fill in the blank with things like nurse a sleeping baby, watch a baby take her first steps, buy baby food, have a crib in my house.....throw a 5th birthday party.

But there are other times when I think, with, um...what's the opposite of sadness again? Oh yes--JOY, "this will be the last time I _____!" Fill in the blank with things like be on night duty to nurse a baby, potty train, wrangle car seats, spend hard earned money on diapers, live with a wily, sassy, uncivilized three year old.

You have been with us for five years. In that time, you have learned to walk, talk, feed yourself, and dress yourself. You know letters and their sounds. You can count and name numbers. You are musical. You love to sing and make up songs on the piano. You can rhyme and do it all. the. time. Usually while singing. You run and jump and hop and swing. You are still a picky eater--thank God for peanut butter and macaroni and cheese! You have lots of friends and you can't wait for school to start so you can see them again.

Yes, you have learned many things. But in those five years you have taught me many things as well. I learned that I can do far more in a two hour nap time than I ever thought possible. I have learned that sometimes when you scream, it's because you really feel like nobody is listening and that if I just slow down and give you a chance, the screaming stops. I have learned that a child can survive on breadcrumbs, ketchup, and air. I have learned that the word "mama" is the world's shortest love letter. I have learned that "green is stupid" and "pink is the best color ever." I have learned that spiders-- even those behind glass are not good. Ever. And quickly learned that forcing you to look at them and trying to explain their good qualities will lead to a fit of bad temper on your part. I have learned that the smell of your hair after a bath is possibly the sweetest smell in the world. But the most important thing that I have learned is that God is never wrong. His plans are always good and perfect. His generosity in giving you to us was a gift I cannot begin to understand. God is good all the time.

And so, my sweet 5 year old, you are a "whole hand old." Oh the things you will accomplish as you start working on being the next hand old! I can't wait to live it with you!

Remember, like I whisper in your ear at night, you are my favorite Mary.

Happy Birthday, Mary Rose! I love you.

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