Happy birthday dear sweet one! I know this whole birthday thing is hard for you…you, my kindred old soul captured in a child’s body. You don’t see birthdays solely as the celebration they’re meant to be. Instead you see them as the passage of time, which in your mind represents the passing of your childhood.
You wake up on the morning of your birthday, clearly torn between wanting to be excited and happy and the desire to make this day go away…to make this past year last just one more day, one more hour, even just one more minute. You walk out into the playroom, and those presents are just so tempting and the thought of your favorite dessert…this year, blueberry pie and ice cream…makes your mouth water and for one brief instant, you almost forget the bittersweetness of this day.
To you, this day…your birthday…means you’re growing up and you don’t want to grow up. You relish all things childhood: snuggling and reading, playing, being carefree, falling asleep next to me in my bed on Sunday nights, hiding under the table in your secret place. Sometimes you’re so afraid of losing those things that you forget to enjoy the moment. I find you wrapped up next to me some nights, crying quietly into my pillow, unable to fall asleep and sad because you’re so busy thinking about growing up and losing out on all the things of childhood. I try to tell you (because you seem so wise during these moments, although I’m not really sure you understand what I’m saying) that because time does pass so quickly, it’s important to just enjoy each and every moment. To live each moment to its fullest.
But what I don’t always tell you during those moments is that I understand. Completely and totally. You and me? We’re two peas in a pod, thinking things through just a little too deeply, feeling our way through life as if our entire being rests on our perception…at times we’re so human it literally hurts. I want you to know I feel the exact same way you do…your birthday is always so bittersweet for me. Each passing year represents another year that I’ve lived with you…and I wonder if I enjoyed each moment to its fullest. Did I soak up everything that being seven meant? Did I appreciate each new phase? Did I notice the moment when you became a little more independent? Did I snuggle you enough? Did I read with you, talk with you, be with you as much as you needed?
Life really is so bittersweet, my love. I wish I could slow the passage of time, but the truth is, I also love watching you grow. I love watching you make new discoveries. I love having real conversations with you. I love seeing you mature and grow into the person God wants you to be. And I couldn’t do that if time stood still. When you were six, I wanted to keep you like that forever. But then you turned seven and I loved that age, too. Now you’re eight and I want so badly to hold you here, but I can’t, so instead, I clip your wings just a little more and I pray. I pray that I soak up every moment of this year and that I have the wisdom to treasure each moment. And I pray that you, too, have that wisdom.
P.S. I know you have your doubts, but I promise, there really are good things about growing up…like not having to do Latin lessons ; )