The Sweetest Gift

Today is my birthday! I love birthdays and when mine rolls around each year I love to celebrate, not so much in big ways, but in ways that are meaningful to me. Doing things I love, with the people I love, is my idea of a perfect birthday.

When I woke up this morning, I had plans to do just that. Plans to write and possibly finish the first draft of my book. Plans to enjoy dinner with my family at Olive Garden.

However, as my day unfolded I quickly realized that God had something different in mind.

Right off the bat, my little girl woke up with a tummy ache. Soon thereafter, my babysitter sent a text saying that she, too, was sick and wouldn’t be able to watch the girls as we had planned.

As I kissed my writing time good-bye, I held on tight to the hope that our plans for dinner might still work out, but when my daughter lost her lunch around naptime, I knew that my birthday plans were officially over.

But you know what? I really couldn’t care less!

Was I disappointed? Maybe a little, but more than anything on this birthday-gone-awry what I have felt the most is blessed.

I feel blessed because my sweet friend, Beth, stayed up until 1:30 am to call me all the way from China. (Tell me, how many people get calls from CHINA on their birthdays?)

I feel blessed because another sweet friend surprised me with a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks and a present just for me. (The coffee and present was great but I liked her hugs the most!)

I feel blessed because my mom made me my favorite chocolate cake. (Seriously, this homemade masterpiece of a cake will wreck you on desserts forever!)

Each of these blessings has made my day special, despite my change in plans, but the sweetest gift of all came yesterday in a moment spent with my daughter.

Love You ForeverWhen it’s naptime at our house, Aletheia and I often enjoy reading a book or two before she goes to sleep. Yesterday, I let her pick out which book we would read and she chose Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

While this classic storybook is one of our all-time favorites, it had been a while since we enjoyed it together.

For anyone not familiar with this story, it is about a mom, her son, and a love that endures as the boy grows from an infant in arms to a man with children of his own.

Throughout the story the mother holds her son in her arms, and while she rocks him back and forth she sings:

“I’ll love you forever

I’ll like you always

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.”

This book has a very distinct way of tugging at my heart, and as Aletheia and I read it yesterday, its message hit me all over again: I’m getting older and so are my babies. They fit in my arms today, but the day is coming when my arms will no longer hold them and these childhood days of books before naptime and lullabies in the night will soon be gone forever.

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you felt keenly aware that this time, this moment was something to hold on to? Something to stop and treasure? Something to embrace, here and now, before you blink and it’s gone?

As I sat and held Aletheia, all snuggled up in bed, I knew that this was one of those moments. I was overwhelmed with God’s goodness, with his love, with the knowing that he picked me to love and mother this girl in my arms. I could feel my heart swell, so full, so tight; I knew it would surely spilt open.

And in this moment I also knew that this was my gift. My birthday gift. The sweetest gift of all.

“Mommy, are you sad?” Aletheia asked, her blue eyes fixed on me.

“Yes, sweetheart, I’m sad because I know there will soon come a day when you’re going to be too big to fit in my arms. But at the same time I’m happy because right now, you still do. I’m happy because you are my gift. Loving you makes everyday feel like my birthday.”

“I love you, mommy,” Aletheia said and smiled her winsome smile.

“I love you, too,” I said. And then holding her in my arms, rocking her back and forth I sang,

I’ll love you forever.

I’ll like you always.

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be.

Mamas, rock your babies!

Maybe your baby is small, still held within your arms.

Maybe your baby is big, grown up and away from arms, from home.

Maybe your baby is waiting, in your belly, in your soul, a wish you make on every star.

No matter their size, their shape, their form, mamas rock your babies! Rock them in your arms. Rock them in your heart. Rock them in your dreams.

And find in them the sweetest gift.

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