Something amazing about birthdays. Just a day of celebration in our child’s life, perhaps, but something altogether different for we parents. It seems to me that birthdays serve up quite vivid moments for reflection.They offer up a day to assess progress, loss, growth, and quite easily acknowledge the annual tick of time. Earlier this fall a 70+ year-old man at a conference said to me (I’m paraphrasing), “Well, life as a parent is simply a blur. It’s a hazy smattering of years of frenetic events peppered with poignant traditions–all you can do is look back and remember the holidays and birthdays in a sea of years that go by.” He may be right. All the more reason these birthdays carry so much meaning.
Our youngest just turned five. And although it was quite a wonderful day of celebration (see evidence in that photo), I couldn’t suppress the ever-rising pit in my stomach. I have vivid memories of my own 5th birthday and it’s clear that time really is flying by. “The days can seem like years and the years like days,” yes of course, but on birthdays I think we parents experience complex emotions. It’s easy to suggest we should just celebrate and rejoice. “Consider the alternative!” you could say. I’d suggest we do celebrate and we do rejoice; it’s a settling and lovely thing to watch our children soak up their birthday. I’m uncertain though that’s enough of a description of these days for most parents.
Like so many other friends and parents have shared, I’m really starting to want things to slow down. I can’t help thinking about the reality that I can barely carry my 6 year-old anymore and there are mornings when he beats me to the kitchen and pours his own bowl of cereal. I know soon the days will close when O wants to eat dinner sitting on my lap. This grace of intimacy in parenting young children is for me the treasure of life. And I’m mindful, thankful, present, and proud but I can’t help hurting as I witness the sunset on this time.
I love these boys more and more and more every day I know them and I enjoy parenting them more and more and more each day too. I know it will only get better as so many ahead of me suggest. It doesn’t mean though, that it doesn’t hurt to see the candles multiply on top the cake.