Wow! Sometimes this Mom stuff still catches me by surprise. Sometimes when I force myself to take a look around - really look - my breathe catches. In the very best way...
Somehow, many years ago, I committed myself to making a photo collage in celebration of each of our boys for their birthdays. Sometimes, I wonder what I was thinking. It's a bit like committing to sitting down and writing a weekly update message about our crazy little life. It's a responsibility now. It sometimes feels a little like a chore. It's a stressor. And I procrastinate. I wait until the last minute for every birthday. I don't wait because I don't want to do this. I wait because it's hard. I want these collages to be special. I know they take time - a lot of time. And I know they tend to leave me, well, tender.
I can't get started on this job without being mentally ready because, despite the fact that I drag my feet to start the process, it always leaves me feeling fuller. Feeling thankful. Feeling like a Mom. A raw Mom, celebrating another milestone I will never get to do again. It's both gratifying and satisfying to look at a year's worth of memories - captured in photographs - and to spend a few minutes thinking about each moment. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed at how blessed I am to be witness to the things I get to reflect on as I plow through picture after picture of special memories.
Zane's collage. Goodness. You guys, tears. Real big ones. This was such a special year for Zane. And every picture I looked at made me remember something about him or reminded me of some highlight of our year. Some of these happened on vacations. Some are from on random nights during the chaos of our week. Smiling pictures with Beck's arm around his shoulder. The beam of pride when he found out he was wearing the same uniform number as Spencer. Pure joy with a Disney water slide behind him. His first day of Kindergarten. His first football practice. The annual pumpkin patch picture. A trip to the construction zone. Hanging out with his brothers.
The past 12 months have been really awesome for Zane - and with him. I kind of knew they would be. I love 5 year olds. I love just about everything about the transition from preschooler to school age. There's an increase in confidence. An emergence of personality. A new ability to reason and understand that leads to meaningful conversation. And all of this is delightfully mixed with the play of childhood. Imagination now matches with a big, wide vocabulary, and results in a magical outcome.
Zane didn't disappoint my 5 year old expectations in any way - and I think he managed to surpass even my wildest dreams. He's blossoming. And I'm so glad we get to watch.
As we kick off another year with our 3rd little boy, I look forward to seeing how he will continue to build on his growing interests in sports. He really considers himself both a lacrosse player and a football player now. He looks to his big brothers and models his behavior after what they do. He struggles to be as big and tough and strong as they are - and I know he'll get there. I'm starting to get a glimpse of how driven he can be. He's got a stubborn, hard headed streak in him that will serve him well if we can harness it constructively.
I'm also very excited to see Zane work his way through Kindergarten. He's starting on his educational journey and having so much fun while doing it. I don't worry about how he'll do in school. He's ridiculously, sorta scarily, bright. It's not just that he knows "stuff" - because he still doesn't know THAT much stuff, comparatively. His mind works in some crazy fast ways. He remembers everything. Everything. He remembers stuff that I didn't even notice. He recalls information and uses it appropriately and craftily. And he mixes this crazy good memory with a vivid imagination and ability to transport himself into many different varieties of made up worlds. He fights with swords and guns. He wrestles with his brothers while acting out elaborate story lines about fighting bad guys or monsters or aliens. He pulls out all his knights and has battles. Or he pulls out all the super heroes and fights off villains. He's kind of amazing.
And yet, he is still just a baby, really. He still doesn't know how to handle himself when he is angry. He has a temper - a big one - and very little ability to get himself under control when things go sideways. And normally when he spirals he does so because someone has hurt his feelings. At the end of the day, he's pretty tenderhearted. And he wants to please - everyone. If he thinks someone is upset with him, he totally loses his cool. I know it's a maturation thing and someday he will handle these feelings with grace. For now, I just try to help him get back on firm ground when he feels out of control.
I will miss the day when Zane stops sleeping under a mountain of stuffed animals and blankets. I'll miss the times that he crawls into my lap while he wakes up. I'll even miss the fits he throws when we sit down to a dinner that he "hates". I will miss 5 year old Zane. But I can't wait to get to know the 6 year old version. I can't wait to see what kinds of awesomeness he gets into over the coming year. I can't wait to sit down in around 12 months and cry again over all the memories I know we will make.
I wish the happiest of birthdays to our blue eyed beauty. May he fill his year with smiles and laughter and joy. I know he'll fill mine with all three.