Yesterday my oldest son turned five. Every one of my children’s birthdays has been slightly bittersweet, full of the joy of seeing them grow and the sadness that a year of their childhood is forever gone. Yesterday I felt especially sentimental.
J is amazing. He has always been strong-willed and single-minded, completely focused on the tasks which are important to him. J loves music, movies, and baseball. He often tells me that I look beautiful. He is quick to speak his mind, which can be awesome but not always.
When he woke up yesterday morning, Jeremy and I yelled: “Happy Birthday, J!” J responded: “I have to pee, and then I am going back to bed.” It only took a second for the morning grumpiness to wear off though. He stayed up, and we proceeded to have an 11-hour long family party which included Chuck E. Cheese, a 3D movie, swimming, dinner and cupcakes at home, and of course presents. J gleefully told me that it was “the best day ever!”
J is a great big brother, though he sometimes seems to think he is S’s parent. Like all brothers, my boys have many heated shouting and wrestling matches. But they are best buddies and love to be together. Last night I complimented J on how hard he works to keep his little brother safe and out of trouble. J sighed and shook his head. “That naughty boy…” he muttered.
Obviously, my very first baby is not so little any more. J will be starting kindergarten in the Fall. Jeremy and I are teaching him to read and swim; and within the next month, I expect he will begin learning to ride a bike. This past year has been a huge one for him. I marvel at all he has learned and the ways he has grown in twelve short months.
I know that this next year will bring even more learning. I pray that this year J will learn to be confident in trying new things. I pray that he will learn that success is not found in perfection but in hard work, a good attitude, and love for God. I pray that J will learn how to rest in God’s promises. I also pray that the Lord will continue to teach me these things so that I can set the example for my son, who can be a lot like me.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend the Orange Conference, a children’s ministry conference that focuses on combining the love of the family and the light of Christ for ultimate impact. At the Orange Conference I learned about something small that blew me away and I believe is going to change my life (and my family’s life) drastically: Legacy Marbles. The idea behind Legacy Marbles is a simple one. There are approximately 936 weeks from the day a child is born until he or she graduates from high school. On my mantle I have two vases, one for each of my children. Both vases are full of marbles, and each marble represents one more week that I have with my child before graduation. The weeks go by shockingly quickly.
I have only 615 weeks with J before he graduates and is grown up! I only have 719 weeks left with S. Each week I remove a marble from the boys’ jars. The marbles serve as an amazing reminder for me to make the most of each week, not to squander the time I have with my sons. Our hope and prayer is that Jeremy and I can provide special moments each week to show our boys how very much we love them and how much God loves them. This is not about being the perfect parent or doing amazingly grand things all the time. God is using the Legacy Marbles to teach me how to treasure each day and make it count in small but extremely important ways.
On J’s birthday I can’t help but grieve a little over the weeks that have already passed. I hope that those weeks are left behind as a beautiful legacy, though I am sure that not all of them are. But I believe what saddens me most is the thought of the changes that will come. Time is already moving so quickly. The time will come when J won’t want to cuddle with me on the couch anymore, when he won’t want to spend time with just me, when he won’t share with me his biggest hurts and fears. Nothing can stop growth and change, nothing should. But I have at least 615 weeks left with J in my home, and I am going to make the most of each one.