I’ll start this letter with the obligatory, “Oh, I just can’t believe you’ve grown so big. Where has the time gone?” phrase. I’ll even repeat the same thing I see daily on my friends’ Facebook status updates: “Five years ago, a sweet boy came into our lives and forever changed it. I can’t imagine our family without his spirit and joy for life. We love you, Jackson!”
And I do mean those things; I really do! You have changed our lives: mine, your dad’s and your sister’s. And I really can’t believe you’ve grown so big. And yet…
Here’s the honest-to-God truth: my son, you have taken my world and smashed it to smithereens. You have filled it with more love and pure frustration than I ever thought possible before March 28, 2007. Since that day, you’ve been teaching me innumerable lessons about things like inborn differences of boys and girls, the importance of impulse control on the human condition, and true potty humor. I have given you so many hairy eyeball looks in the last five years, it’s amazing I still have muscular function in my eyebrows. (No wonder those new wrinkles have become so furrowed in my forehead!)
You have pushed me to the extreme edge of myself and my sanity. From the moment you arrived home from the hospital, I have had a lack of sleep as well as a lack of understanding how a little boy’s mind works. Just when I think I have you figured out, you try some new tactic. In the recent past, your modus operandi was slapping your own face when you got frustrated. (Where in the heck did you learn that?!) But this month’s newest tactic is plugging your ears when I say something you don’t want to hear (time for bed, be nice to your friend, sit in time out, stop.repeating.that.question!).
Then, just when I’m at the end of my rope, you become this vulnerable, I-need-your-love-desperately little boy. You come to me with tenderness and regret, knowing you’ve pushed harder than you should have for your independence. It’s like you change your mind for a moment and want to come curl up into Mommy to make sure I’m still dependable and willing to accept you back. And that’s the honest-to-God second truth: I will always take you back. A morning with you might feel like Chinese water torture some days (drip, drip, drip), but I will never tire of being the one you run to for reassurance and kisses.
I won’t go as far as to say I’ll trade all the tantrums for the apologetic make-up hugs you give me at the end of them. However, I will admit how much I love your still small body as it clings to me in those few moments of your sweet hugs. I also love the way you sit beside me at the dinner table, with one leg cocked perpendicular to your body so you can always have bodily contact with me. Your little foot hooks under my knee, because you are so much my boy that you can’t stand being separated from me for even a short meal.
Now could you just sit still for longer than ten seconds at a time? I read once that a boy is “noise with dirt on it.” I’d take it one step further and say a boy is a noisy blur with dirt on it. You are up-down-up-down-run-jump-couch dive-spin-up-down-smack-run-bike-up-down-yell-collapse. That’s your day, condensed into 18 words.
I worry so much about you already: what will your Kindergarten teacher think of us when you start school in the fall? Will you ever learn how to settle down and LISTEN, so you can become a productive, civilized member of society? Will you become a leader or just a rebel? And will you ever be able to stifle that streak of independence, and depend on the One who always takes you back? Will you learn to surrender when He calls you to?
Oh, Jackson. You fill me with pride and fear, worry and joy. I love you, and then I’m so aware of how broken that love is. You have magnified my imperfections in a way I never expected, yet you and your sister have been the ones to model God’s love for His children in beautifully painful ways.
Thank you for that, and for changing me even when I don’t want to change anyMORE! I am crazy for you, because you literally drive me crazy. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These are the days I’ll look back on and laugh, knowing how my noisy blur of a boy helped me become more me as I helped him become a man.