For most mamas, the day before your kid’s birthday is bittersweet. You’re a ball of emotions- a combination of anticipation and sorrow that only a mother knows.
You know what’s coming: More independence and sorting out which clothes no longer fit this growing child and which ones you can make work another few months. You’re thinking of the memories that have been made and memories awaiting their chance.
Tomorrow my boy turns five. While I’ve been blessed with his presence for nearly five whole years, I can’t say I’ve been wholly present for all five of them (I have birth/postpartum trauma, anxiety, and PTSD to thank for that).
Tomorrow is a big milestone- both for him and for myself, too. Who am I kidding? Every birthday is a big milestone for the mama.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF PRE-BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
We all spent much of our younger years counting down the days until we turn the next age. It comes to no surprise that my son has done the same. Our children are always so excited about their birthday coming up. They spend weeks, even months asking about a party, reminding us what they want their cake to look like. They tell us all the things they’re going to do when they turn another year older.
The day after my son turned four, he started asking when he would be five. To him, turning one more year would unlock so many new opportunities.
Turning another year is extremely exciting. But we can focus on that more tomorrow. Today, I wanted to focus on celebrating what milestones YEAR FOUR included. After all, all of those milestones and the age before is what got him to this point.
I don’t expect nor do I want my son to not be excited about turning five. Without taking the excitement out of turning The Big 5, I wanted to celebrate not only the turning of a new page in his book but also give recognition to previous pages, all of which have led him to this new chapter.
Afterall, Year 4 was a big year for him!
From weaning at the beginning of the year to being in his first wedding.
From graduating to a big-boy bed to killin’ it in two seasons of soccer.
From starting VPK to braving his first roller coaster to getting his first haircut.
Being four was full of firsts!
This morning we loaded into the car and took our almost-five-year-old to Starbucks (a rare trip these days) for a cake pop and hot chocolate for a pre-birthday celebration. Not because it’s his birthday yet, but for that very reason: We wanted to celebrate what being four was like too!
I wanted to create space for a beautiful, sacred pause to reflect on what this last year included. We so easily neglect reflection and eager to move onto the next phase of life!
We giggled as we reminisced this last year. It was a year of many firsts- both for him and for our family together.
Now, this evening, we’ll excitedly talk about how cool it is that he’ll be five tomorrow.
THE SACRED PAUSE
It’s possible to foster a sense of gratitude and appreciation instead of always looking forward to the next step, to the next thing, to the next age.
As parents, we can foster a sense of gratitude and reflection, even in our young children, by creating a sacred pause. This pause is made of the precious, fleeting moments that hang in the final time between one age and the next.
It’s that day before the birthday.
By creating this sacred pause, even the simplest and silliest of reflections, we encourage our kids to love and celebrate who they have been, who they are, and yes, who they are becoming too.
I want my son to know that I love four-year-old him just as much as I’m going to love the five-year-old him. I’m proud of the four-year-old him and I’m going to be proud of the five-year-old him. Because regardless of his age, he’s special.
The thought alone brings tears to my eyes because I can’t help but remember the time I lost in the first few years of his life. But now, as I have fought so hard to reclaim who I am and the life I want, I pour myself in to being present and mindful of these moments.
As a mother, this is just as momentous for me as it is for him. Motherhood comes with its fair share of challenges and hard days, but this last year has been one where I’ve been able to be more present. I’ve been able to reclaim my motherhood and some of which was stolen from me (read more about that here). Part of this journey has been continuously pursuing mindfulness and presence in the moments with my boy.
I want to encourage him to grow into the person that he is. I want him to know that I love him now just as much as I’m going to love him tomorrow when he turns five.
His first whole-hand birthday.
Another year of small steps, big steps, and missteps for us both.
Yeah, I’m excited about him turning five too.
I’m excited to see his interests change and understanding deepen.
I’m excited to see what new facial expressions he’s going to come up with or hear even more elaborate knock-knock jokes.
And I have to admit, I’m also excited about what other chores he will be able to help out with around the house.
IT’S NOT JUST FOR THE LITTLES
The sacred pause and pre-birthday celebration aren’t just for my kid- it’s for me too.
It’s for me to soak up these moments of this age that I’ll never get back.
To mourn the fact that my baby really is growing up before our eyes.
To celebrate the fact that I get to stand witness to it all.
To be mindful that my child isn’t the only one maturing and growing here.
As parents, when you take this sacred pause, you give yourself time to reflect on the accomplishments too have made and firsts you too have experienced.
You got another year of parenting under your belt!
Tonight, I’ll snuggle in bed with my son and pray with him as he falls asleep.
I’ll listen to his breath just like I did when he was a baby, but with much less worry.
I’ll study the way the moonlight falls onto his face and watch his belly rise with each breath.
And I’ll soak up every.single.second. Of my four year old that I can.
Sure, I might cry about some of the memories that still seem spotty and dark and covered by miserable anxiety a few years ago, but I’ll also breathe in all the gratitude for the memories that have been blanketed by God’s grace and this glorious journey of reclamation.
And also for all the new memories to be made and pages to be written with my five-year-old.
Oh, and for more photos that show his clear excitement for kissing me on the cheek.
Friends, you don’t have to throw a separate pre-birthday party or anything. Since we can’t stop them from growing up and it’s all happening so quickly, take a sacred pause and reflect on the previous year, both for you and your Little.<3