I hope one day you will read these posts. I hope you will get past the title of this blog and past the fact that I chose to write it three months after your actual birthday. There is a method to my madness (and if not a method, then at least a sort of twisted reasoning).
A few months ago, one of your siblings was observing you. Said sibling pulled me aside and murmured in low tones, "Mom, Parker is special because he was your first baby, and Maddie is special because she is your only pretty princess, and Caleb is special because he's your last baby, but Jack..." the voice trailed off uncertainly, seemingly sad and concerned that you might not be all that special. HA! It made me want to laugh and cry in the same instant.
That assessment, the placing of value on birth order or gender above my love for you and your worth as a person, couldn't be more wrong. If anything, I have put off writing this post because I'm afraid others will read it one day and assume you are my favorite (which is also not true because, God, in His mercy, somehow made me incapable of having a favorite child).
What that sibling didn't realize is that you are oh-so-dear to my heart and very special, indeed. You are the first newborn baby I was able to hold without fear. With Parker I feared for his little, infant life when he stopped growing and was considered "failure to thrive" (until we sorted out his feeding issues). With Maddie, I feared for her safety from her jealous, 18 month old brother. With you, I sat in the big green chair, nursing you, smelling your hair, relishing the quiet moments, and reveling in motherhood. I knew what you would bring. I knew the sleepless nights ahead. I was already in the habit of changing diapers and constant chaos. I was welcoming more with open arms. We were also living in Kentucky for the first time since starting our family. We had an array of helpful, doting grandparents who offered respite and [perhaps more importantly] food. You were and are special in your own right because of who you are and because of the mother you allowed me to become.
But babyhood aside, you continue to be my darling little boy. You are always surprising me with your crazy antics (e.g. your tendency to cover your appendages and head in underwear and announce the arrival of "Underpants man"). You love to be tickled and have a wonderful sense of humor. You are always trying to play tricks on daddy. You love to be held and carried, and I will continue to do so until my back gives out. You are kind to a fault, often genuinely confused if others are mean to you. You try so hard at everything - pouring milk, writing, even speaking Chinese.
And you are still little. And sometimes you mess up. Sometimes you spill the milk (okay, most times). Sometimes your marker misses the sheet and makes lines on the floor. You do your best to make it right. But sometimes, I am not as patient a parent as you deserve. It is in those dark moments, the best part of you shines through...
I think every mother who has ever yelled at a child or squeezed that tiny hand just a little too hard and cried tears of agony later wants nothing more than for her child to know deep down in his little soul that his momma loves him. That no amount of marker on the wall, poop smeared on the toilet seat, or milk spilled on the floor will ever change that fact. And that's what's best about you, Jacky. You know. I am not giving myself permission to mistreat you; I will do my best to do better every day. But when I do mess up (which is way more often than you), you are quick to forgive. And when I say, "I love you, Jack." You say the words I long to hear even more than "I love you, too."
You say, "I know."
I thank the Lord I was chosen to be your momma. Thank you, sweet five year (and three month) old boy. Thank you for knowing how much I love you and for loving me right back.