Our children celebrated their 9th birthday today.
This post has gone at least a dozen different ways as I have drafted it in my head this week. From reliving the dramatic life and death events of that day, to celebrating each of their lives and the way they stretch me in new ways as they grow. I considered documenting our celebratory traditions, posting NICU pictures compared to now or open letters to each of them. But this evening as we lit sparklers in the driveway (a gift from my precious, wonderful friend/neighbor/surrogate aunt to my kiddos) my husband and I reveled in how they were suddenly, inexplicably and undeniably nine year olds.
To a child, I firmly believe, age is so much more than just a number. At least for my trio, today, it seemed an invitation to step it up. I am not speaking figuratively, it really did seem to happen overnight.
Because birthdays are indeed "Yes Days" (within reason, of course) we allowed the kiddos to choose post-church activities. As a result, we spent a gorgeous afternoon at the pool.
P sat with legs crossed in the shade reading to his heart's content. (So many new books, so little time.)
K swam and ran and played in the nonstop way only our little energizer bunny can--smile beaming constantly.
R 'held court' on the green lawn just outside the pool fence--leading a 4 hour baseball extravaganza with Dads and friends and little boys being cheerfully brought into the fold of the Summer tradition.
Between glances to see that they were having a blast, I managed to read 130 pages of a book.
As we walked home with tan skin and wonderfully exhausted bodies I watched the strides of those six legs that once filled my womb like spaghetti noodles. I listened to the voices I got to know via the late night sounds of baby monitors as they enthusiastically shared the stories of their day's adventures. Mostly, I simply noted the changing way my no-longer-babies carried themselves. While the trio's physical stature remains small in comparison to their peers, there is no denying their affect. My people have solidly joined the ranks of 'big kids.'
If you had asked me to project how I would feel about this, I am sure my response would have been wistful...but the truth is that I am not only at peace, but joyfully so. And tonight, I do wish I could sneak back for just a moment to that terrified, overwhelmed new Mama version of me 9 years ago and whisper:
Hang on. Dig in. Breathe. You cannot even fathom what is coming. Motherhood will be exhausting, terrifying, gut wrenching, sleep depriving, laughter and tear inducing, joy producing, stretching, rewarding, life altering and heart changing...But it will be so very good. (And that's just the first nine years.)
Grateful beyond words...