Reed is six today. I accidentally slept in (perhaps I'm in denial), and Reed ran into the room, stopped short of the bed, put his arms in the air and shouted joyfully, "Mom, I'm six!"
We spent about half an hour cuddling in my covers, talking about the scientific--and gross--aspects of boogers and volcanoes (a boy's dream), laughing and being generally silly and raucous.
My labor to bring Reed into this world was relatively, thankfully, short. I arrived at the Army base hospital around 9 in the morning, and Reed emerged at 5:18p.m. that same day. I remember that as I pulled him up close to me, his slick little body so tiny I felt as if my arms and hands were huge, his eyes were closed. I brought him close and his eyes opened and beheld my face.
I was his first earthly sight.
I remember feeling the both exhilarating and overwhelming weight of responsibility that descended on my shoulders in that abbreviated moment. I remember thinking, "But who am I to take care of you, so perfect and so new, so pure and from a place so untouched?" In that one condensed minute, I was bowled over by how much I knew I needed to teach him.
In those first few seconds of holding my first-born to my body, marveling at all I was now responsible for, and wondering how the joy and worry did not make my heart explode, I didn't yet have an inkling how much Reed would teach me. It took me a long time to feel that confidence of a mother, that feeling of I-know-what's-best-for-you.
It took a long while for me to realize that I was meant to be Reed's mother, and he was meant to be my son, and we really were both perfect for the job. :)
Amidst all the nagging worries and daily shortcomings and daily asking for help and forgiveness, sometimes there come moments when I realize that I've done something right. Moments where Reed says something that blows me away, and I am amazed at the kind of person he is, and then amazed that he learns and obeys so well when I, his teacher, am so faulty.
I really do believe, though, that Reed already possesses a giant spirit in his gangly little body. I am just here to see that he is protected, nurtured, and retains as much of that goodness as possible.
Who am I to take care of you, so perfect and so new, so pure and from a place so untouched? I'm your mother, that's who!
His personality, much of his strength, much of what will make him happy in this life, is already intact and included. It is up to me to see that this strong foundation is reinforced, preparing him for his life out of home, and ultimately, his return to that other home. Today on his birthday I thought it only appropriate to transcribe (many) journal entries that detail some of the ways he is such a wonderful little boy. This doesn't even touch the scope of it, but I am in an it-all-comes-full-circle mood today, and this best represents that mood.
October 4th, 2001
No one can crush the human spirit...It can't be broken. It is the frame of life...I will have children! I will not be cowardly! I will fight the evils of this world by making a heaven on earth in my home...and Satan is powerless against me.
Thursday, May 16th, 2002
Last Friday, I had the scare of my life. I thought I had lost you. When I went to the doctor, though, and had an ultrasound, there was your tiny body--and I sobbed with joy to see your strong and constant heartbeat. At that time you were just 2.91 centimeters long. Your limbs hadn't formed yet, but I could see the beginning of your nose and the umbilical cord.
Reed, 2 years old, June 2005
You sad, mama? You cry? [wrapping his arms around me] Is okay. Daddy come home soon.
Saturday, July 6th, 2002
Yesterday you had the hiccups! You also "punched" me twice when my stomach growled. I laughed hard over that.
Every time you move, I have this feeling that you're a boy. And each time I prod my belly, trying to figure out how you're positioned, you either push back or wait 'til I stop poking and then you slowly move into a new position. You are quite an active baby! Especially when I lie down, it's like you decide that my quiet time is your play time.
Some people say that babies don't have personalities until a few months or years after birth, but I disagree entirely. You definitely have a distinct personality, as far as I can tell. You seem to be an athletic, curious, communicative, and even stubborn baby. I suppose we'll see if I'm right later! May 2005 Reed, to my large pregnant-with-Jaxon belly, "Wake up and watch Cartoon Network? [then to me] Baby's hungry. He needs milk. [then to my belly] Baby's hungry. He needs milk. You hungry, baby? You want chocolate? Wake up."
[Reminding me before bed] "We need to read the scripdures."
[to his "hurt" stuffed animals] "Oh, sakes! Mommy, I giving him sakes."
Friday, August 20th, 2002
Dear Baby, I keep wondering what you're going to look like! Red hair? Brown or black hair? Maybe even blonde! And your eyes....brown? Hazel? Blue at first?
Tuesday, August 27th, 2002
You're growing pretty fast! I'm finally showing now, and sometimes I feel your little feet poking me above my belly button.
Last night I had a wonderful dream about you. I think maybe Heavenly Father gave me the dream to help me feel better about some fears and worries I've been having. In the dream, I was nursing you, and you were smiling and cooing and being very peaceful. I felt so connected to you, as if we were understanding each other's thoughts perfectly, kind of a silent communication. Also, your daddy was holding you, and both of you were smiling and laughing at each other, and you napped together. It was such a sweet dream.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005
Me: Jesus will come again someday.
Reed: Jesus faraway?
Me: No. He's close by.
Reed: Daddy faraway.
Me: Yes, but he'll come back.
Reed: He play again. He rock me.
Then, speaking as if seeing something in his mind,
Reed: Daddy's silly. He's playing the toys. Is funny!
Reed: Yeah...[then, suddenly more quiet]...he rocking me.
Oh, my sweet Reed! Your faith is unfailing. I draw strength from your tender little spirit and comfort from your knowledge that your father will return. And no, little one, Jesus is not faraway. He is with us. I feel His presence when I hold you in my arms.
August 22nd, 2005
Baby Jaxon is today two days overdue, and you asked me tonight, "Will you push out baby Jaxon for us?" You offer to "push him out" for me. Reed, 4 years old: Mama, does Jesus sleep?
Me: Nope. He doesn't need to.
Reed: So he can protect us all the day. And watch us when we sleep.
Autumn [Reed's cousin] was struggling to pick a weed, so you plucked it for her and handed it over and said, "There you go." She said, "That's perfect!"
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
My sweet Reed,
Today we welcomed your little sister, Savanna, into the world...Upon seeing Savanna, you grinned from ear to ear and climbed onto the bed to see her. You said so many sweet things and couldn't resist kissing her little face and stroking her soft, silky hair. "Hi, Savanna. I love you...[then, smiling] she's tiny!" Your commentary ran from how small she was compared to you and Jax, to how she could play on the playground when she's bigger, to how pretty she was, and finally how she's your 'sponsibility' and you plan on protecting her. You are the most kindhearted, fiercely loyal, protective little boy!! Your dad and I constantly marvel at the great capacities of your little heart. We're so proud as we watch the progress you are making. Reed, you are the bright light in our home. You illuminate the world of those around you. It is a blessing, honor, and privilege to call you my son.
I am blessed, I am honored, Reed, to be your mother. You made me a mother, and you continue to make me want to be better. My dearest ambition is that I can help you progress and find joy, returning the beautiful gift you have given and continue to give me.
Monday, November 17th, 2008
"Mama? Do you know what I want to do on my birthday?"
"Before the guests arrive, I want us to lay on the grass and look at the clouds and use our imaginations."
"Oh, we can absolutely do that."