He doesn’t need his older brother’s help anymore.
I sit across the white kitchen table eating a peanut butter and jelly English muffin. Comfort food. Today I craved this meal.
A tiny black wheel rolls from the table and bounces from Chase’s chair to the floor. The kitchen light illuminates my son’s white-blonde hair, shaved by daddy yesterday, as he bends over to pick it up. Fingers that easily stretch across my palm grip the wheel more tightly.
I glance back at the kitchen counter, looking for them. White fabric sewn into my heart. There.
Two baby socks lay by the tissue box, but they’re not his. Not Chase’s. Something twists in my stomach and I drop my hands to my lap.
In early July I went to a baby shower for a good friend, and party favors were a pair of white baby socks filled with Hershey’s Kisses. She’s having a little boy, and the shower was a reminder of days I have to look far behind me to remember…onesies, home-made quilts, diapers and wipes, receiving blankets, blue footprints, pacifiers, and baby socks.
At five years and three months, he’s no longer my baby. He’s a little man with his own mind who makes sure no one is left behind, especially his brother. He’s a solid, bouncy, loud, shy, loving, strong, careful, ticklish, determined, worried, laughing, stubborn firecracker.
Last week I got him his first official school book bag. It’s black, and my sister used red fabric paint to write his name and then ironed on various vehicles. He loves it, though I have a hard time sharing the excitement over his new book bag.
His first day of kindergarten is August 15th. Kindergarten. I look away from the food on my plate and feast on memories instead.
Chase has challenged me and tested me until I fell to my knees crying out to the only One who could help. He’s hugged me so tightly and made me laugh so hard that I dropped to my knees thanking the One who gave him to me.
During his five years of life I’ve experienced a bittersweet mix of tears of frustration and tears of joy. I’m stronger now, seeped deeper in my faith in Jesus, more compassionate, more aware. Chase toughened me, and God used this stubborn, tender Swede to draw me to Him and shape me into the image of His son.
See, I’ve realized that God blesses us with children who bring us closer to His Son. Children who stretch us to the end of ourselves so we climb into our Heavenly Father’s lap for help and comfort.
Parenting is a beautiful, painful process that keeps us clinging to our Heavenly Father as our children cling to us. Through our weaknesses as parents (and mine are many), God provides strength, wisdom, and grace to fill in the gaps.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. ~ Psalm 145:8 & 9
Chase finishes the Lego car and looks up at me. His round boy face breaks into a huge grin, blue eyes crinkled and bright. Like mine, they crinkle when he’s happy and laughing, nearly disappearing into his smile.
It’s physically impossible to hold back a smile, and I beam at my son. Sharing joy with Chase is infectious. As we smile together at his Lego car I feel something inside my soul tighten and shift.
I don’t welcome the feeling, but realize it’s the very essence of living. My eyes prickle, and two little baby socks fill my peripheral vision.
Baby socks and book bags.