Wild and Tender
(Hit play for a little theme music)
The words have been swelling in my heart and swirling in my head. You turned two last Sunday, not yesterday, the Sunday before. I have been waiting for the right moment..no ,the right words...to tell the world about you, now that you are so big, of course.
I’m not sure the perfect words will ever come. But that is something you have taught me...perfection is not attainable. I have tried to be a perfect mom and a perfect, “you name it,” but you, Little Man, have made me learn and made me lean on the Perfecter. You have kept me awake and kept me on my toes and I owe you everything for it. I say these things without a hint of sarcasm...you woke me up and it was a good thing you did.
Little Man, you are brave. You are wild. You are tender. You are a little man of little words but your thoughts are more numerous than the stars in the sky. From the moment you wake up to the moment you finally give in to the sleep, you are thinking, feeling and expressing, not so much with words but with your whole self. Wild and tender are my favorite words to describe you right now. Just yesterday you wanted your bike helmet on. I let you jump on the couch while wearing it. You don’t normally get to jump on the couch but there was something in your determined grin that made my heart give way to your desire for adventure.
You are just like your daddy. He also grins and my heart melts.
Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes when I am watching you, I imagine it is what your Nana may have seen when your daddy was a little boy. Wild and tender. Ready to run to the next adventure or to open arms that will scoop you up and bury their nose in your neck.
I smelled your head yesterday, (if we are divulging secrets I guess I should confess this as well.) It’s slight but still there. Mixed with dirt and sweat and cream cheese that never made it into your mouth but instead into your hair, there is a faint smell of baby left over. You think you are a big boy, all ready to take on this world, but you are still my baby, just a mere 24 months, 2 years old, and still my baby.
It hasn’t been an easy 2 years. I may actually be able to say they have been the the hardest ones I have lived so far. But they have taught me the most about myself and my God and I have you to thank for that.
In 738 days, over half those nights have been spent in the big blue chair in your room with you in my arms. It wasn’t always the whole night, sometimes just a few minutes was all you needed...a reminder that you weren’t alone and you would give in quickly and effortlessly. Other nights were harder. But it was in the night, in that chair, with you in my arms that I had Holy Moments. There is nothing like silence to invite the presence of God. Together we would sit and I would rock and I would pray or just listen.
I began to uncover so much about myself in that chair with you: The struggles I have faced for a lifetime with pride and fear. Excuses I had been making, blaming others for things that were rightfully my own shortcomings, these are the things that became so clear in my mind, in the dark. It was like a searchlight had been activated and the hidden things were being sought out. I began to let go, confess and heal...right there with you in my arms.
There were also many nights where my selfishness would rear it’s ugly head and I would be so angry at you for causing me to be awake. I would whisper harshly to you and you would stare back at me crying, wondering why I just wouldn’t pick you up so we could rock in the chair and everything would be okay.
I would wake up after those nights feeling so exhausted and so defeated. I would cry to myself and wonder when our wrestling would cease. There were times when it would get better, a stretch of sleep-filled nights and I would think, “We are in the clear...”
And then we’d find ourselves back in the chair.
It’s been easy to complain through all of this. It’s been easy to find someone to feel sorry for me and offer me thousands of ways to make you sleep of which I have tried almost every one. What has not been easy is to admit to the world that I believe God used you to wake me up.
It doesn’t make sense to a world full of sleep books and sleep aids that God might take all that and throw it out the window so a mama’s heart could rightfully wake up right where it was at and learn to beat again.
The truth is that before you came along, Little Man, I had fallen asleep. I was trying my very hardest, doing my very best, out of my very own strength and I was very tired...maybe even dying on the inside. So tired that I began to drift off, unaware that I was missing out on a miracle.
Little Man, wild and tender, you brought a miracle into our lives. We have been weakened in so many ways in the last two years, not just because you didn’t sleep well, there were other storms that passed on through, but in your mere two years you have been an agent of His power and His grace. God has used you to teach us so much about ourselves and about Him and His never-ceasing love for His children.
And I believe He will use you for much more.
You are wild and tender, son. Running through life with determination. Busy and curious in all the most wonderful ways. You are soft-hearted and willing to love. You give the best hugs, especially when you squeeze tight. And, you rub our eyebrows...which is weird...and wonderful, too.
You love the trash truck. You run to the window and watch it in awe. You think every bug is a bee and you show them to us. You don’t like dinner time very much. You love to eat but dinner is hard...you want to play.
You like to steal our noses and pretend to eat them but then you give them back and you laugh...we love your laugh.
You love your sister. You look up to her so much. She loves you too. Today we were at Chick-fil-a...again...and she stayed with you the whole time in the play room, making sure you were okay.
You love your bike. You can’t pedal yet so we have to push you on it but I know that skill is on it’s way...in the mean time you will just run around in your helmet ready to take on whatever adventure comes your way.
You are wild and tender. You need hugs just as much as you need to be outside and so I will hug you until The Kingdom comes.
I love you, my Little Man. What a gift you are and what a gift you brought to me. My soul woke up to the wonder of grace. I have been beautifully-broken and am learning to live weak and humbled. Through you, I have learned that perfection is not the goal. Daily dependence on a Perfect Savior is the only way. I am not perfect but this way His power is made perfect in my weakness.
To think of all we have been through thus far makes me cower a bit at what might be next. Then I think of that grin and your belly and your laugh and I am ready. God has used you...and your sweet sister...not to make me perfect but to perfect me and cause me to draw closer to Him as we continue this great adventure.
Happy Birthday, wild and tender, Little Man.
You are a treasure.