Sammy's birthday is tomorrow. I always look toward my children's birthdays with mixed feelings of joy and dread. As my son's fourth birthday is quickly approaching, I find myself searching through my memories and holding tightly to things that have slipped from the forefront of my mind.
Four years ago, I was an enormous vision of grumpy pregnant woman. I gained eighty-five pounds during my pregnancy. I had one outfit that I could wear, and it was this grey muumuu thing. I looked like a manatee that walked with an arched back and wore Crocs.
(That is one memory I wish could just slip from my mind, but ,unfortunately, there is photographic evidence.)
I went into labor with Sammy during my twenty-second week of pregnancy. This was not a new experience for me, but still just as frightening. My doctors managed to keep me from giving birth until week thirty-six.
Now, let me paint a picture for you:
I am five feet, three inches tall. When I gave birth to my son, I weighed two hundred and fifteen pounds. My nose gained weight. I have stretch marks on my ankles. I contracted five to seven minutes apart...all day long...for fourteen weeks. I was a little bit grumpy.
Needless to say, after 98 days of contracting, worry and stress; On July 15th, 2008, at 1:36 in the afternoon... I gave birth to the ugliest newborn baby I had ever seen in my life. (This was my second ride on the newborn baby train, and Sammy was an ugly baby.) To say that Sammy looked a little like E.T., would be a gross understatement.
He was ugly, and I loved him more with each passing second.
I wish I could remember all of the details of Sammy's life from the time we brought him home until now, but I can't. I remember bits and pieces, and I look at photos of him when he was six months old, and find myself thinking, Man, he was so little.I wish that I could capture time, and replay it for the days when I so desperately want to remember. When I want to remember the feel of his little newborn sized body, or what his face looked like the first time he ate green beans; Moments that seem so inconsequential when they are happening, but look like lost treasures when they are too far past to recall with perfect clarity.
This is the way of life. Children grow up too quickly. I know we don't think that all the time.
Frankly, I am looking toward the day when both of my children wipe their own butts with a pair of wide eyes and pleading hands, but... a part of me...the part of me that is typing these words and weeping like an infant...want my kids to stay little forever.
This year, my sweet little boy has taught me so much about life. I mean, my kids teach me things about life all the time. Their innocence is refreshing, their outlook on the world is wide and their mind isn't jaded by unfair life circumstances. I learn a lot from my kids each day, but this year...I learned what it was to worry. I learned what it was to juggle the reality of life, with the uncertainty of situation. I learned that no matter how important mundane daily activities might seem...there is nothing more important than stopping what I'm doing to read a book to my kids. There is nothing more important than cuddles, kissing boo-boos, ruffling hair and those hugs that little boys give to their mothers while they are on the run. I learned this year that many things that I thought were important...really aren't important at all when compared with the plethora of memories that are stacked against them in comparison.
I have learned that even the worst days can be cured with one smile from my sweet, Sammy. His smile starts in his toes, and by the time it's fully formed...there isn't a single part of his face that hasn't been touched by it. His sweet chuckle and his startling blue eyes never fail to pull at my heartstrings, and to instantly make my day brighter.
It is a profound moment in a parent's life to realize that their entire life is hinged on something as simple as a child's laugh.
Happy (early) Birthday, Sammy. I love you more than you will ever know.