Twelve years ago today, Daddy and I got an unexpected surprise. Oh, we were expecting you; we just weren’t expecting you to arrive for another five weeks. But you were impatient, and God granted you permission, so you declared that August 8th of 2000 was a right-fine day to make your appearance into this world. The doctors assured us that you would be just fine, even though you weren’t due until September 9th.
I remember being on the operating table for my C-section. Daddy and I didn’t know if you were going to be a boy or a girl. We had deliberately asked the doctor not to tell us, because having you was like getting the biggest Christmas present ever, and the wait was so much fun. And throughout my entire pregnancy, I had decided that you would be a little girl. Not because I KNEW you were a girl, but because I FLAT-OUT WANTED a girl. I had only grown up with a sister, and I had no idea what to expect from little boys, so I pictured my world being complete with a little girl. You would have pigtails, and we would have tea parties. We would paint our toenails together, and we would watch Grease together, because Daddy mistakenly believes that Grease is low-quality entertainment that he can’t stand to sit through. We were going to show him, though! Your name was going to be Amelia. Everyone teased us about liking such an old-fashioned name for a little girl, but MY WORD! Daddy and I loved the name Amelia, and that is who you were going to be.
And then the doctor delivered you, and he yelled out, “It’s a boy!” And your mama just laid there on the table, thinking, “No. The doctor is wrong! I was HAVING a GIRL!” And suddenly I had NO STINKING IDEA what I was going to do with a boy, because WHAT ON EARTH DO BOYS DO?
And then you surprised the doctors, because you couldn’t breathe. There was an enormous scramble to get you on a ventilator and flown out to a bigger hospital in another town. The entire nursery was a busy place, with everyone hovering over you, taking your vitals and using a hand-pump to get oxygen inside your little, underdeveloped lungs.
And do you know what I thought then? Well, I broke down and bawled, and I kept telling Jesus, “THAT is the baby I wanted! THAT one! THAT BABY BOY!! Please don’t take him away from me! I didn’t really want a girl!”
After spending two weeks in the NICU, you were fine. Better than fine. Jesus answered all of our prayers, and we brought home a healthy little guy who didn’t even weigh seven full pounds.
And do you know what?
I was so in love with you, I could barely stand it. I stared at you all the time, and I kept thinking, “This is OUR baby! We get to KEEP this baby! And he’s perfect!” I thought you were the most darling thing of ever.
And then I found out what little boys do. They don’t have tea parties, and they definitely don’t like Grease. They don’t paint their toenails. What little boys do is use sticks as swords. They collect rocks everywhere they walk, and they fill their pockets with rocks, so that all the rocks end up in my washing machine. Little boys burp. And burp. And also burp. And when they burp, they laugh hysterically. Little boys skin their knees jumping off of tall things. They break windows. They smack their brand-new beds with hammers, so that dents get in the frame. This makes a daddy’s head spin sideways with all the upset. They like movies about pirates and Darth Vader and Batman. Little boys slop ketchup down their shirts. They build sand castles, they make mud pies, they get plum-dang excited when they see a dump truck or a street sweeper on the roads, and they build with Legos. They throw rocks. They throw sticks. They throw balls. They throw anything that can be thrown. They can eat six tacos in one sitting. They constantly have dirty feet and dirty ears and dirty fingernails and dirty bedrooms.
And do you know what?
I love it all.
I have loved every last minute of having the boy that Jesus gave to us exactly twelve years ago, because having you made my heart grow a hundred sizes bigger, until it felt like it would burst, because it couldn’t hold all the love I have for you. You are everything I wanted in a child. I didn’t know that, but Jesus did. And Jesus gives fantastic gifts.
I couldn’t have asked for a better son. Or a cuter son. Or a smarter son. Or a funnier son. I couldn’t have asked for a kinder son, or even one with a bigger heart. You are all of those things. You are such an example to everyone, because your heart is full of goodness and compassion toward every person you meet. You are surrounded with friends; you will talk to anyone, and you’ll include everyone in every activity.
And then you stunned us all this last winter by praying for us to have another baby, and, because of you and your faith, a miracle happened, and we adopted your brother. Mama and Daddy never intended for you to be an only child, but sometimes a two-foot-long blood clot in a girl’s leg will end her birthing career. Daddy and I always said that God could only give us one kiddo, so He gave us the BEST ONE.
But God had other things in mind for us, because He knew that eleven and a half years down the road, the faith of one child was going to bring about a second child.
And, through your prayers, we all ended up with your brother, and our lives have never been more full. Our family is complete. Our hearts are bursting with love. And we’re so glad that Thing 2 is a boy, because MAMA KNOWS WHAT BOYS DO NOW! And I expect that Thing 2 will throw rocks and swing sticks and jump out of high swings and shout a curse word in the grocery store and dream of riding bulls at the rodeo. And that’s all okay, because THAT is what little boys do.
(Right before they get swatted!)
My prayers every night include asking Jesus for Thing 2 to be every bit as wonderful as you are when he’s your age. And do you know what? I think we’re all on the right road to that, because Mama and Daddy are raising him just like we did you, and because he has a big brother who is completely smitten with him.
Happy 12th birthday, Boy.
Your parents love you to bits, and we love every single thing about you.