My oldest child, Will, turned 10 on Sunday.
Ten whole years of him, of me as a mom, of more than Kyle and me in the house. Will was born after a difficult labor and after I was whisked away to the operating room. They showed him to me while the doctor stitched, and I couldn't see anything but a blur of tears.
In the recovery room, I moved the blanket back to see his fingers and toes. His legs were skinny. At 10, they still are, and if you look at him from behind, he looks exactly like my dad, who also had a birthday on Sunday. In these 10 years, under those skinny legs, he's grown up tall and strong.
We took his friend with us to celebrate his birthday. His friend. He has a friend.
I watched him from behind as they bowled together. His legs are still skinny but his shoulders are broadening. I feel like he's mine but yet I'm watching him become his own person. Something is happening. He's growing up, yes, but this is the year that I can feel something else happening.
I can feel the fruit of motherhood starting to grow up big and strong.
Because in those years when it was quiet and when hugs were forced and when there was a disconnect between us, I didn't always love motherhood. I loved my son, but I didn't love motherhood. Because parenting a special needs child can feel like working really hard but not having anything to show for it.
It's very humbling.
And so very sweet. I suppose it's just that the sweetness takes a little longer to dig down into. And it's also that, through this little boy, God has altered my idea of what motherhood actually is. Motherhood is not raising a boy to play quarterback or planning elaborate birthday parties. It's not about helping our kids make friends or having them in the "right" circles. It's not about activities or education, although these are important.
No, motherhood is the everyday responses and interactions with our children. Motherhood is a matter of the heart, of mine and of what I'm imparting into my children's hearts.
This boy made me a mother and, by God stripping away everything I thought motherhood meant, taught me how to be a mother.
I feel him growing up under those skinny legs, growing into something I couldn't have begun to imagine on the day I peeked through my tears at him.
And I feel me growing up too, growing into the fruit of motherhood.
It's so sweet.