"How can there be to many children?
That's like saying there are too many flowers."
- Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Last Friday our youngest son, Joseph, turned one. My heart simply could not accept how quickly this year has passed. Just yesterday I was begging my ten day overdue belly to get busy! Despite the intensity of life that comes with raising six young boys, like clockwork, when that first birthday arrives so does the crazy intense longing for another baby. (Go ahead, call me coo-coo.) It's just automatic. I can't help it!
Steve and I have always been open to life, and the Lord knows that if it were up to us, we would have ten boys by now. But, He is the Creator and Crafter of our family, and so six it is! (Until we adopt those twin girls I've been trying to convince my husband we have plenty of room for!)
Anyway, for days leading up to Joseph's birthday, there was a great deal of excitement in our house. Everyone wanted to know what kind of cake I was going to make, if we were going to have a party, and they all took turns exclaiming to Joey, "You're going to be one year old on Friday!"
When the big day finally arrived, the great enthusiasm and love that the boys showered over Joseph was so touching, I cannot describe it. The older boys were all awake bright and early to help Steve work to get the combine ready for wheat harvest. While they waited for me to prepare their sack lunches, they sat quietly in the living room listening for Joey's little voice to signal that he was awake.
Goooooood Morning!! Come and get me!!!
Gosh, guys. It's just my first birthday, no biggie, really.
Everyone dashed in to hug and kiss him and to wish him happy birthday. It was a sweet sort of chaos. I wish I could bottle up all of their giggling and hugging and endearing words. Those are sounds I don't ever want to forget.
Of course our boys have their fair share of fighting and selfishness, but that's all on the surface of learning and growing up in a family of boys. Beneath it all is an beautifully intense love for one another. I see this love expressed in so many wonderful ways between each of them every day. The love was especially visible on Joseph's birthday.
Despite the obligations of the day, when possible, all of our attention was on Joseph. I, especially, found myself just watching him, noticing every little distinction that makes him so unique, so precious - his wispy curls, his long lashes, his big blue eyes, his many expressions, the way he says "HI!" so emphatically when I walk in the room.
The boys will never know how emotional their birthdays are for me. Behind the smiles and celebration my heart is completely engulfed in waves of love, joy, gratitude, wonder, and admiration, and the exhaustion I feel intensifies all of those emotions immensely.
I suppose those emotions come from a combination of wanting time to slow down and also knowing that each child we've been blessed with is such a gift, such a mercy. Children save us from ourselves. I've written before about how babies make us better. Because, they really do.
They uproot us from all our selfishness and attachment to things that don't matter and reward our self-gift with an all consuming love, adoration, and cuteness that makes us forget who we used to be. They make us face our weaknesses and our faults and leave us longing to be better, to be more, to be different, and that often very uncomfortable change requires a total reliance upon God's mercy and grace.
Early that day, I had hoped to dress Joseph up in his Wranglers and boots and take him to a special spot just outside of town that I thought would be the perfect place for his one year photo session, but it was so hot outside, I knew he would be miserable. Another day, another time.
After supper, the boys offered to take care of the dishes so that Steve and I could have some one-on-one time with Joseph outside. He is taking his first steps, so it was the perfect time to snap a few (hundred) photos!
Are you ready dad? I'm gonna show you my slider, then my curve, then my fastball!
Um, guys, have you seen my baseball anywhere? Anyone, anyone??
So, he happily made his birthday wish come true.
When it came time for the cake, Joseph was not sure what to think. The boys, however, were about to burst with excitement, because they could not believe that I was going to let Joseph actually eat his very own piece. Mom! It has sugar in it! Sugar is bad for Joey! Are you sure he should eat it??
After the cake was devoured, Charlie volunteered to "bathe" Joseph in the baby pool. Hold still, Jophis, I'm going to wash the frosting out of your hair with this ice cold bucket of water.
Really, how can there ever be too many of these precious ones???