Around 2am this morning, Ike and I woke up to the cries of our son. Although Isaac normally sleeps through the night, he is currently cutting four new teeth AND he’s having a growth spurt. Once we realized he would not settle down on his own, Ike hopped out of bed and disappeared into Isaac’s room for what seemed like forever.
Eventually the house was quiet again and Ike crept back into our room. As he slid into bed next to me, I asked what had happened and where he had been.
“I’ve been rocking him.” he breathed out as a tired sigh.
“I’m sorry you were up for so long.” I replied. “Thank you for taking care of him so that I could sleep.”
Then, Ike said something unexpected.
One year ago today my son was born, and his entrance into the world was not an easy one. My labor was hard and Isaac’s heart did not respond well. We worried for his health and safety as the labor stretched on for hours and hours.
But God answered Ike’s prayer. Abundantly, in fact. Not only did God provide our son with a strong and healthy heart, but He also blessed Isaac with a heart full of joy. The name Isaac means “laughter” and we could not have chosen a more appropriate name for this child. He laughs at EVERYTHING, loves every person he meets, and enjoys each moment of the day. The joy in his heart is so big that it has spilled over into our souls and filled our days with pure delight.
Becoming a parent has been one of the most amazing and surprising experiences of my life. I never knew how much I would laugh. I never knew how many tiny miracles would be tucked into our daily lives. I never knew how much I could accomplish on so little sleep. And I never knew what it was like to love someone so infinitely more than I loved myself.
I also never knew how bittersweet it could be. With each new milestone, I have celebrated, but I have also ached. Every time I folded up the clothes he had outgrown, I praised God for Isaac’s health and growth, but I held back tears of sadness as well.
The bittersweetness of parenthood caught me off guard. Why does Isaac’s growing up make me so sad? Why am I both excited to celebrate his first birthday, and also a little forlorn?
As I’ve thought about it, I think the bittersweetness comes from the reality that my son is not mine. Not in an eternal sense, anyway. Today, Isaac is dependent on me for everything, but my job is to teach him to depend on God. My job is to prepare him to go out and live in this world as a faithful godly man, to make his own decisions, to raise his own family, and to follow God’s path for his life.
In a sense, my job is to prepare him to leave, and every milestone reminds me of that good but difficult job.
Sometimes I think about Mary, and how acutely she must have felt that same ache. Although I am not raising the son of God, I do think mothers have some insight into her heart. She knew that God created her son for an important yet difficult purpose, and her call was to steward her boy while he was under her care, however long that might be.
As Jesus grew older, learned to walk, learned to talk, and learned to run, there must have been some part of Mary’s heart that wanted to keep him small. Keeping Jesus young meant keeping him safe. As long as he depended on her, she had some control; she could protect him from the world. The world she knew would hurt him.
As he grew, and grew and grew, I wonder how she felt about letting her boy go. I wonder if she was afraid to set him free into this broken world.
I think all parents can relate to that fear. And yet we press on with the knowledge that it is good when our children grow, and that God is ultimately in control. Our children are not ours to “keep.” First and foremost they belong to God, and all of us are so blessed, SO BLESSED, for any amount of time that we have with them.
While the call of a parent is hard indeed, it really is so, so, so good, isn’t it?
This year has been hard and scary, but it has also been abounding in joy. God has taught me a lot about Himself, myself, and my marriage through this tiny little person. He has used my son to open my heart and make me a better person. And for all of that, and much much more, I am incredibly grateful.
I love my sweet Isaac more than I can express, and I am thrilled as I think about the years to come. God is so good that He allows us to share in His pleasure of being a parent. What a gift. What a loving gift.
Happy birthday to my laughing boy. On this day, one year ago, a new and brilliant light came into my life. I love you, and I am so deeply grateful.