Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, dear Will

Dear Will,

There's no way I could have known, one year ago, the way you would change me, the happiness you would bring me, the incredible blessing that you would be to me. Twelve months ago, when you came into the world, I didn't even know it. I was watching a softball game and laughing with friends and then, two states away, you were living and breathing and existing.

I didn't know. For two entire days.

But then, when you were two days old, this picture of you came across my phone.

I don't think I used to believe in love at first sight. I loved your brothers the moment I saw them but when I saw them they were tangible and squishy and in my arms. It may well have been love at first snuggle. But you, Will, I loved the second I saw your picture. I loved a photo so intensely that I couldn't stand the thought of being away from you for one more second. I became a powerful believer in love at very first sight.

You were wonderful, precious, delicious--even. I almost couldn't believe that you were mine. I took twenty gazillion pictures of you, knowing that, though the nights were long, you would stay like that for no more than a quick minute.

Summer faded into fall and we tried to figure out how to get you to sleep without being swaddled. It was rough. I thought we might have to send you off to college with a large blanket, some strong Velcro, and solid instructions for your roommate on how to wrap you tightly. We pushed through and, it turns out, you won't even go to preschool still needing to be swaddled. Your pacifier is another story. That thing may be hanging out of your mouth in the third grade.

Seasons are prone to moving quickly. One jumps on top of the other and soon, an entire year has gone. How much quicker they go when raising children. Fall turned to winter and on that first day of the season marked by snow and frigid temperatures, we officially adopted you. It was a beautiful day and my mama heart--the one that always hopes and always believes but is always just a little afraid that something might happen--exhaled a sigh of love and dreams and endless possibilities. 

You. Were. Mine.

The winter turned into "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which, in most places, is called spring. You didn't seem particularly bothered by the cold weather of winter or "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which is weird because you spent your womb-months in Riverside. It is H.O.T. in Riverside. But, you are definitely my kid and a So Cal boy because you will remove your socks and shoes at every opportunity. You want to be barefoot all the time, with your feet in the sand and a non-alcoholic umbrella drink in your hand. (I'm guessing on those last two but, I mean, who doesn't?)

"Little Bit Warmer Winter" has turned into "Hot Summer" even though summer won't officially be here for another two and a half weeks. You've taken to playing in the backyard, swinging in your new swing from Grandpa Jon and Grandma Ginny, splashing in your new water table from Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe, climbing on your brother's old helicopter toy, and working on your tan. I assume your olive complexion will turn sun-kissed brown in a matter of days.

You are determined, noisy, strong-willed, feisty, joyful, and smiley. There is so much personality in your teeny tiny body and you are so full of life that I sometimes wonder if you'll just spontaneously burst and send glitter and confetti flying everywhere. Your smile lights up the entire room. Your giggle ripples through us all until there is a symphony of laughter that shakes our world in all the best ways.

You crawl at lightning speed, toddle everywhere, and aim to destroy absolutely everything absolutely all the time. One of us has to redirect you every 2.7 seconds because you will almost positively kill yourself if we give you a five second head start. Outlets, cords, and heavy objects would be your toys of choice if we turned our backs for only a moment. You will, occasionally, play with your actual toys but are much more fascinated by ALL THE THINGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD that are not toys. On her resent visit, your Grandma DeDe commented that everyone should just get you random household items for your birthday. You were thrilled to play with her dental floss for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking of taking your presents back and getting you your own checkbook, a set of Tupperware, several rocks, a ballpoint pen, and disposable baking tins. Because those are, quite literally, your favorite toys.

You eat ALL THE FOOD. Certainly, you have your favorites and bread is not among them. I worry for you in this family. If it's true that you are what you eat, your oldest brother is a walking carbohydrate. While you enjoy taking a few bites of pancakes and toast before throwing chunks on the floor, your favorite foods include blueberries, bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, carrots, and beans.

You carry around burp cloths like blankies, enjoy throwing--but not reading--books (I will persevere. I will win. You will, ONE DAY, sit in my lap for more than three pages. Annnd, dude. It's not like I'm asking you to sit through three pages of Dostoevsky. We're talking about cardboard books about farm animals and dinosaurs for crying out loud!), find Peek-a-boo to be utterly hilarious, enjoy bath time, love your brothers and your dog and cat and the hamster (who does not love you but, can you really blame her? Her experience with you is limited to a couple of very rough encounters.), and you thoroughly enjoy babbling incomprehensible chatter.

You say, "All done," although it sounds more like, "ahduh!" You say, "Dada," although less so lately. You, apparently, say, "MOM!" but only when I'm not around to hear it. And that is about it. It's fine. If I had a child who attempted to speak before he was twenty months old, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Eh. Einstein didn't talk until he was four and it turned out alright for him.

They say that in parenting, the days are long but the years are short. I don't even know if the days seem so long to me anymore. I've got your big brothers as proof that the world just keeps spinning faster and faster with each phase of the moon. But it does seem impossible that almost a year has gone by since I first saw your face on my phone, since I first stepped up to your bassinet in the hospital and laid eyes on you, since I first lifted your tiny body up into my arms and snuggled you in to the place right next to my heart, where my love for you had grown for all those many months.

Happy Birthday, Will. It's been an amazing year.


The way that God designed things, a rainbow often appears after a storm, giving hope of better things to come. That is why a baby born after the loss of a child is called a Rainbow Baby. The literal definition of a rainbow is an arc of prismatic colors appearing in the heavens opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of rain.

Will, you are prismatic colors--vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, blues, and violets. You are the reflection of sunshine. You are all I waited for and so much more. Everything about you is warmth and wonder, crisp and clean. You are the way the world looks after it has poured down rain, after a storm has wreaked havoc, after the sun has come back out again and made everything new.

"There may be storms that rip up your world, but heaven can come down and brush a rainbow across all that pain like a sacrifice--and make you believe the promise of justice and wholeness to come." -Ann Voskamp

You are the rainbow that Heaven brushed across my life. Happy Birthday, dear Will. Happy Birthday to you.


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