"What would you like to do on your very last day of being three years old?" I asked the brown-haired boy snuggled up in my lap in the pre-dawn hours of December 14. My near-four-year-old giggled and nuzzled his nose near my heart.
"I dunno..." his muffled voice replied. My littlest boy cocked his head and held my gaze.
"Well," I mused aloud, "We could build a snow fort or go to the gym or race your monster trucks or bake some cookies...:
"Mom," Josh interrupted my brainstorming. "I think I just want to grow a little bigger today."
I wrapped my arms around the petite preschooler who had invaded our Christmas season just four years prior. I thought about what I'd been doing on the 14th of December as my fourthborn spent his last day in my womb. I'd taken my three-year-old to the park in celebration of an unusually warm winter's day. I'd delivered Christmas cookies to the elementary school and had wrapped a few gifts to place under our tree. Not once had I imagined that the child I'd been carrying for thirty-eight weeks was spending his last day tucked within me. As my own feet ached at the end of an ordinary day, I never dreamed that the tiny feet kicking me from the inside would soon be covered in the fuzzy footies of a tiny blue sleeper. So it is with lasts.
As I savored a quiet morning moment with my littlest boy I realized with a touch of sadness that his simple plan for the day was probably true. He will, indeed keep growing. Day by day, year by year, until his big boy legs no longer wrap themselves around mine. And God willing, one day his mini-man feet will stand at the front of a church as he waits for his beautiful bride. And God willing, one day his big-daddy feet will race his own child across the green grass. And God willing, I will be a mother who celebrates his growth day by day and year by year.
I thought about how tomorrow we would wake up and mark with delight Joshua's FIRST DAY of being four. Streamers hung across his room in the dark of night, birthday cake and presents, party plans and friends- the day would be packed with intentional celebration as so many of the "firsts" have been. First words, first steps, the first tooth. first ride on a two-wheeled bike, first day in big boy underwear- each has been greeted with awareness and festivity. But how does one mark day three-hundred and sixty four in the third year of a littlest boy's life?
I remembered the poignant words of Karen Kingsbury as she explained the birth of her first children's book, Let Me Hold You Longer. She writes of a day when her young son flew into her arms and she realized he was getting nearly too heavy to hold. She glanced at her oldest son, then a middle-schooler, and she wondered when she had held him for the last time. "There are no photographs or parties when a child takes his last nap or catches tadpoles for the last time," she writes in her letter to the readers that precedes her sweet children's tale. "For the most part, it's impossible to know when a last-moment actually occurs. Nothing signals a mother to stop and notice the last time her little boy runs and jumps into her arms... Then I wondered a bit more...Would I have held on longer if I'd known it were the last time?"
The almost-birthday boy began to wiggle on my lap and I knew that soon we'd abandon our snuggling chair for the floor where we would race cars and wrestle. I knew that momentarily the piles of laundry would rival for my attention and the four other children who have captured my heart would rise with hungry tummies and words to share. So with a simple prayer, I inhaled the precious scent of sweaty little boy hair mingled with chocolate milk morning breath, and I asked the One who grows me too, just a little every day, to grow me into a woman who savors not just the firsts but also the lasts on this wild journey we call motherhood.
The Overflow: "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last." -Revelation 3:17
I am a lover of Jesus Christ, a seeker of abundant life, and a freelance writer and speaker. I’ve got a handful of children, a home full of laughter and a life full of noise. I’m the frequent hostess of kitchen-floor dance contests, meal time talk-a-thons and dirty laundry campaigns. I love the sound of my children’s laughter, the feeling of my husband’s hand in mine, and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I make my home in the Midwest where tulips bloom and neighbors smile. While my laundry baskets are NEVER empty, my soul sometimes is. When all is said and done, I don’t want my minivan to be the only thing crammed to capacity. I want a soul that’s filled to the brim, too. I want to live the life Jesus dreamed for me when he declared, "I have come that (you) may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). As I do, I hope to splatter my world with joy and leave puddles of faith in my wake.