Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Cooper: a 5th birthday letter.

Dear Cooper,

Happy 5th Birthday!

Every year I sit down and write you a letter around your birthday. Thoughts about your year, who you are, why I love you. But this year I've found myself fighting the urge to do it. I am sitting down with my fingers flying about the keyboard, but not with a longing to do it. Because maybe if I don't actually sit down and write this letter for you, you'll somehow, magically not turn 5. Yes, this year, I'm more sad and emotional about the turning of another year for you.

Sad because I am experiencing how the days are long, but the years short. I'm watching you grow up very quickly. The year between 4 and 5 is the year I have said goodbye to all signs of baby in you. You are a legit "big boy" now. From your features to the things you can do independently, to the conversations we have, and your interests. You really are growing up, and sometimes it's hard to accept.

Sad because I know how blessed your daddy and I are to have a healthy son. One of my friends is watching her 4 year old son fight a cancer battle. The other day as I dropped off meals at her house, I saw this mom change her son's clothes after he had thrown up and was smacked in the face with a dose of reality. I saw how skinny he was. I saw the outlines of his bones. I saw the tubes hanging from him. I saw his balding head. It was a moment my heart ached. It was a moment I was forced into humble thankfulness for you. I'm not sure why we got the healthy child and my friend didn't. But as you turn another year older this year, I'm very grateful that you are healthy; growing up and developing normally.

Sad because some days it's really hard to be your mom. You have this passion in you. You have this desire to be right; an instinct to argue. And some days being your mom brings be to my knees in tears and exhaustion. And those moments make me question how good of a mom I really am. They make me doubt my ability as your mom. And if I'm honest, there are many moments that being your mom is me being a mom who feels like a failure.

Even though this year's letter is a tough one to write because of those things, the core of me being your mom is one of joy. The roots of this tree we planted in you are roots that are wrapped around the King of the world. The blooms of that tree are sometimes sad ones but He cuts those off. He is somehow able to cut away the sad and bring about hope, joy, and great blooming smiles on your tree branches.

Some days I look at you and long to go back to the first year. Just to hold you again. Wrap you up in a blanket and rock you. Thinking back on those moments, though, I'm reminded of the thoughts I had when I held you, rocked you, prayed over you, and sang to you. In those moments I wondered what you would be like when you got older. Would you be healthy? Would you have learning challenges? Would you be happy? Would you know Jesus? What kinds of things would you like?

Those days when I sang to you I longed to know what the future you was like. Today I'm looking at the very boy I had always wondered about. I no longer have to wonder what you'll be like when you're 5. That day is here. Today I'm standing in the answered prayers I uttered 5 years ago. Cooper, you are everything I had hoped and longed for you to be.

You are healthy. I'm finding myself praising Jesus for this often lately. You are healthy. And I'm so thankful we have been given a boy who has developed normally, a boy who is smart (some might say too smart), a boy who I hear say "I'm going to eat an apple because that's a healthy choice" and "I'm going to do my exercises, mom." Your daddy and I fight a battle of healthy choices daily, and we have prayed that you will not have the same battle that we do. So to hear you utter those sentences calms my fear and gives me hope that even though my progress is imperfect, it's still progress, and hopefully you'll leave our home with a healthy lifestyle.

You are happy. Joy exudes from every part of your body. The way you get excited shows from the top of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes. When you smile, the blue in your eyes gets brighter, and your dimples flash bright beams of sunshine. Your laugh is one that cuts straight through my heart and warms my whole body.

You are growing in your faith. This year you and I have had some very deep and touching conversations about God. You're beginning to ask questions, and it makes me excited. This year you have asked questions like "How did God know how to put me together?" and "Why do I have to give my money to God?" And you've uttered phrases like "I want to give God 7,000 monies" and "I love God the most." My biggest desire has been - and always all be - that one day you love Jesus and build your life upon Him. These conversations are building your foundation. One day I hope to hand over this foundation to you so you can build upon it yourself.

The things you like, you don't just like. You LOVE them. You are passionate about them. You like all things video games and ninja turtles. You don't play cops and robbers for pretend, you play mario, pikmin, minecraft, and ninja turtles for pretend. You like to draw, following your father's footsteps a bit. Your drawings mainly consist of said characters. You like to run, jump, and do all things outside. You are great at impersonating characters and doing sound effects. Sometimes you'll make a sound effect and daddy and I will look at each other like "how does he do that?"

Sometimes daddy and I also look at each other like "Can you believe he's ours?" Cooper, we look at you with great pride and love. We love that we get to know what parenthood is like with you as our child. This title of mother has come with so many challenges, but also with love unlike anything I've ever experienced.  I'm five years into this ride of parenthood, and I'm loving it because of who I get to call my son.

Five years ago, you were passed to me and I saw you for the first time. You laid on my belly, where I stretched out my hands and touched your precious body. Over and over I repeated "Hi, Cooper" while smiling. I don't remember much about what happened to me next because my eyes were on you. I watched as they took you, weighed you, and did their tests on you. I watched as they covered the large bump on your head with a hat. I watched as they swaddled you. I watched as your father picked you up and brought you back over to me, with tears in his eyes and his mouth curved into a smile. Over the past five years I've continued to watch you, many times forgetting myself and focusing on you. I've watched you overcome challenges, I've watched you be tested in areas. I've watched you learn and grow. I've watched your relationship with daddy grow into a loving one.

Today, instead of daddy handing you off to me, you ran to me. Today you jumped into my arms, hugged me tight, and said, "you're my favorite mommy." **insert happy tears**

Cooper, today and every day, that's the kind of joy you bring.

Goodbye, sadness.

Hello, joy of having a 5 year old.

I love you.