"OH! She loves it! She's smiling..." the Mom beams as she hollers to her husband from the bottom of the plastic swirl.
Daddy's at the top, gently guiding a blond haired, rosy cheeked little girl to sit at the top of the slide and shuffle her diapered bum until she starts to slowly glide. She barely moves as she bum-shuffles her way down, but Daddy won't let go of her hand until Mama takes over half-way down.
I smile. Tears form. (Why do I cry about EVERYTHING?)
I whisper to my kids as we munch PBJs at a picnic table nearby:
"Do you think that Mommy and Daddy love their baby, or what?"
My son chuckles and rolls his eyes the way 8-year-old boys do, then says: "Yea, just a little."
Audrey beams, eyes sparkling. "Yes... a lot."
They see it. Everyone can see it. Love is bubbling right out of those parents and all over the wood chips in that sunny park. They can't contain their celebration of this child that is theirs.
They aren't young parents. Maybe in their forties. And for some reason I think they've waited long and hard for this girl child.
"Ok hun, I think we need to switch so I can see her face while she comes down," the Daddy is completely serious about his need as he leans over the slide and shouts to his wife.
"Oh, yes!" Mama shuffles towards the slide and in the process baby hits her head. Both Parents drop down and coo and shush and kiss and hug. I wonder how this babe got so lucky and how so many others have never even felt an embrace let alone THIS kind of affection.
Daddy finally makes his way to the bottom and his whole being ignites when he sees his daughter giggle and smile as she slides. He claps and woos and completely and utterly revels at her achievement.
"You're doing it! You're sliding down!" They are a happy, wonderous sight, the three of them. I'm a mushy puddle as I look on. Our children are still staring. I think they can honestly feel the affection bouncing towards them and they smile softly as we feel the breeze.
I thought about that family for a long time after they left. I wondered what it was that made them stand out so much. What made me feel like breaking down in happy tears right on that splintered park bench?
It came to me later - yes... Celebrated. That baby girl was celebrated. She was the light of the show and she was a precious, cherished gift. Everything she did was miraculous. And it was beautiful. And she deserved it.
I started remembering when ours were little and had their 'firsts'. First steps, first swing, first meal, first word. We celebrated. We video taped it. We did happy dances and bragged. We were the gushy, over the top weirdos.
But, then it hit me - do I still celebrate our children?
I mean, every day? That kind of beaming elation that yes, they are alive and I get to share life with these presents from God!
Sure, I encourage them. I love them to pieces. We're together all the time. We discover life together. I hug them and tell them I love them.
But do I revel in them?
Do I just look on them with wonder?
Do I move towards them and position myself in front of them, just so I can see them smile?
Do I beg to be part of their amazing achievements?
Do I do things just to watch them giggle?
Do I make them feel the way that little baby must have felt in that park today?
Because they deserve to be celebrated when they are 8, 6, and 4 just as much as when they were newborn or 5 months, or 1. They are still just as precious and just as much a miracle...
I'm praying and thinking about these things tonight.
Parents - tomorrow is a brand new day to celebrate the gift of these amazing kids God gave us. Because they are little human presents, the best God ever wrapped up - and I want to choose to celebrate. Let's grab hold of that opportunity and let love bubble over as we embrace our wonderfully amazing children. In every season - they are indeed cause for celebration.
Hugs to you...