Tonight, we celebrate.
Because five years ago our third baby was born into my hands in a squishy tub full of water on our bedroom floor. Tears sting my eyes as I think of how we were so sure we only 'wanted two' children.
The middle aged man in the grocery store rang out: "You've got a boy and a girl! The million dollar family! Keep it there!" Right, the Million Dollar Family. I heard that so many times I started wondering where all my millions were. But then our third one came as a surprise. I mean a SURPRISE. While I was still nursing a five-month-old, with a barely two year old in tow, with no thought of any more babies, ever. There they were - the 2 red lines.
I remember it clear, laying in bed, staring at the shadowed ceiling, just wondering how to tell this husband of mine. I could only think of this:
"Hey," my voice was matter of fact at nearly midnight.
"Hey," came his response, totally not expecting what came next.
"Um, wanna hear something funny?"
And... laughter. We still aren't sure if it was joy or hysterical fear.
And then there was the night, two months later, that we told the family. I had a seven-month old daughter on my lap and my husband had a two-year-old son on his. I laughed out loud at the expressions on their faces and how my sweet Grams said flatly, "Well... if that's what you want to do with your life."
Oh, Grams. I love you. And yes, it is what I want to do with my life. It just took some ups and downs to really, truly see it. My life is so deeply blessed and I am in the midst of a miracle.
The best gifts? They come in the form of people.
Especially little people. And even more so, little people who were complete and total surprises. Our little Alex, I can't put words to the crazy love I have for this boy...
This boy rocked our world and now, who could imagine our family without him?
But I'll tell you, something crazy happens when your children are all under three and they all of a sudden out number you. We're still recovering...
He was the one who humbled me most. Not because he was a difficult baby - quite the opposite. But because having three little ones so close made me realize for the first time, how little I knew. How desperately in need of grace I was. How badly I needed to get on my knees and pray for strength to just get up in the morning and do it all again.
That first year felt long. And the second one felt only slightly shorter. The exhaustion, the craziness, the crying, the diapers, the sleeplessness, and I huffed and rushed and now, I see. This gift. This child. All three gifts - they were set apart specifically for me and they are the greatest and best gifts I will ever receive.
And they can't be had forever. Time passes - too quickly it slips away. We need to grab hold and drink it up - every second we can. I'm seeing it more clearly every year. Every month. Where I used to wish time away, I'm now clinging madly to hold onto it.
Because today, my baby turns 5. FIVE? And I look on that face and into those blue eyes and I'm overcome with joy and thanksgiving.
And I'm so grateful for surprises.
Crazy, wild surprises - like babies when you least expect them.
And so thankful that God knows what we need so much better than we do. And our family needed Alex. The world needed Alex.
And the world needs all our children. And God has a beautiful plan for each and every precious soul - no matter how little the body that contains it.
Oh Alex... our Alex. The sound effects, the giggles, the silly accents, the never ending discussions about his imaginary friend who is eleven and lives on his own... the lack of care as to whether he wears clothing... forgetting his shoes when we go out in the van... just, him. These moments with him. I want to hold tight to these moments.
As we climbed the stairs to bed after his birthday party tonight, he holds every gift and every toy he possibly can in his little arms. I smile as I think of him, always hoarding his treasures. Even bringing them to the bathroom, just in case.
We enter his room and I ask him if he had fun today on his birthday and he looks up and asks it plainly. "Mama? How many days until I'm six?!"
Oh my goodness... far too few, Alex... far too few...
Humbly giving thanks tonight, and choosing to wake tomorrow and intentionally embrace every single 5-year-old moment.