At a friend's birthday party last weekend, a random guy joked with Tessa, "You're the baby. That means you'll be spoiled."
His girlfriend next to him elbowed him and remarked dryly with eyebrows raised, "They have four kids. None of them will be spoiled."
I've been a mom for seven and a half years now. My oldest is saying things like "I wasn't aware of that" and asking what global warming is. My middles are into mischief and silliness and phases of self-discovery that leave messes and tears, but all done in passion. And then there is the youngest- the one who is now one.
I am ever aware of how Tessa's childhood will differ from her siblings. She is our only child to not live in the boys home. She is the first baby to arrive during the era of homeschooling. It is hard to snap a good picture of her because she is usually being smothered or distracted by a spirited sibling.
I have more perspective, know now that "this too shall pass" is not just a verse but a lifeline in the chaos of parenting.
I have more reality,
I have more grace- for all of us.
I have a better sense of time, knowing that each sweet season will pass so quickly. I know to savor the hugs, the snuggles, the wanting to be held, because it will soon be replaced by emerging independence.
Maybe you've wondered if you had many kids, if you would run out of love, if the later ones would be a little ho-hum compared to the new experiences of your first. I am so thankful to find that it doesn't work that way. I am every bit as charmed, delighted, and awed by this little baby who dances to music and giggles to siblings and sings whenever anyone around her sings. She is a wonder. She is an individual. Sure, she came fourth. But that doesn't make her any less amazing or exciting to see unfold.
As Tessa creeps along furniture and crawls up steps and reaches to hold her own spoon, there is a vague feeling that the baby phase is slipping away. Its hard to imagine our family with no one in diapers, rooms with no cribs, a total absence of bibs and pacifiers. But I look at this picture and realize that she isn't a baby any more.
But then- she'll always be the baby of the family, right? For some reason, that helps. Not much, but a little.
With the welcome goodbye to infancy comes the reluctant embrace of toddlerhood. Already Tessa is fascinated with the bathroom, particularly on the challenge of emptying the whole roll of toilet paper before getting caught. I know any day we should see growing defiance, and the tantrums that will follow.
But for today we celebrate that she is one, that she is ours, that life is richer because of her. We remember that she is from God, as the giver of all good things. And we look forward to the days ahead, to watch her personality emerge and her passions fire up and her life take direction.
Happy Birthday, Tessa Jo.