Four years old


^^ not long ago this was Jace. He was holding strong to his baby chub, fitting in the hiking backpack, barely taking his first quick steps, still eating in a highchair.

And now, this is Jace:

His baby fat is gone. He loves riding a bike more than anything in the world. He hates having his picture taken. He has this insanely creative imagination that blows my mind on a daily basis. He has his daddy's sense of humor and love for laughter. He searches for adventures. He is obsessed with police men and firemen. He watches teenage mutant ninja turtles and assembles cars and buildings with legos. He tries to live on pizza. He sleeps in. He loves playing with his friends. He is tenderhearted and so very sensitive. He wants everyone to like him, and never wants us to be frustrated or sad. He is polite. He has a heart the size of Texas.

And today he is four years old.

A few weeks back I was struggling internally. I go through points in my life where I feel so small and meaningless, so helpless in the large realm of it all. There is so much suffering and tragedy in the world, and when I let myself really focus in on all that is happening it weighs heavy on my heart. It was one of those weeks then, where I felt like I was possibly a quite terrible human being, sitting in my warm home, having plenty of food for me and my family to survive, in fact not suffering in the slightest in comparison to anyone who is truly suffering out there. What was I doing to help? What could I do?? I felt like perhaps I was really just this giant disappointment in the grand scheme of things.

During this week, in the thick of my heavy heart, Dan and I were woken in the middle of the night to a loud, hacking cough coming from Jace's bedroom. We ran into the room as he was struggling to breathe, gasping for air, a harsh barking emanating loudly on an intense path from his chest to his mouth. He was completely panicked in his inability to breathe, where in it's place was a harsh, raspy, gasping sound.

It was the dreaded Croup.

Dan and I together quickly made a team of help. We soothed him and held him and calmed him until he was able to breathe better. Dan carried him outside where the sharp, cold air helped soften his lungs. I pulled out the peppermint oil and rubbed it on his feet and back. We filled the humidifier to filter cool air in his bedroom next to a diffuser that misted an essential oils blend. And then we all sat on the couch together, holding Jace and watching cartoons until he fell back asleep.

He woke up a few more times that night, one moment in particular when the clock flashed 4:08, I ran into his bedroom to calm him so his panic wouldn't constrict his breathing even more. I held him so his cheek rested on my collarbone, his tears soaking my neck and chest, moving my hips back and forth while he coughed and struggled to suck in air. I soothed him until his raspy breathing slowed and he fell asleep on my chest. It was in that moment that I was hit with a forceful realization that brought tears to my eyes. I was, in fact, very much needed in this world. The good I am doing was there right in front of me, sleeping on my chest.

And throughout the rest of that week, through long sleepless croup filled nights, while I comforted him and nursed him back to health, I was overwhelmed with how very wonderful a thing it truly was, being his mother.

Jace made me a mama and I'll never, ever forget that. He added to our lives in ways that we never knew possible, filling holes that we never knew we had. He changed us. Having a child is hard and demanding and crazy and stressful and so incredibly beautiful. We all grow so much together because we in fact have each other at all, and isn't that miraculous? Aiding a little person to mold himself into who he truly is in his heart of hearts, well it's kind of the most ridiculously wonderful thing I've ever had the pleasure of watching and accomplishing in my whole entire life.

I'm so, so, SO proud of this boy. He is an amazing person with an amazing heart, and every single day I'm so proud of him. So proud to call myself his mama. So proud of who he is and what a magnificent venture he makes life.

Happy Birthday my sweet boy. Here's to another year!

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