I am pretty sure that this is the first year of writing these letters that I have actually thought, “But wait….didn’t I JUST write this letter to him for his 5th birthday?” Time always goes fast, but I am pretty sure it accelerates the older each child gets.
This year was a year of growing pains, for both me and for you. We had a lot of changes. You were still learning how to be a big brother to not only one sibling, but two. It was (and still is, most of the time) easy for you to play the role of older, protective brother to your baby sister. Anytime we are in public, if someone so much as glances at your sister, you run over to her, wrap her in a big hug, and plant a juicy kiss on her face, just to show others she has already been claimed and you. are. watching them. You make her so happy! You make her laugh, you make her feel loved, you make her feel wanted. That is all I could ever ask for in an older brother for my daughter.
Being a brother to our Rhenner is different. He’s closer in age to you, and he’s also a boy, so there seems to be a bit of competition between you two (just a biiiiit). Sure, sometimes you fight over silly things or I catch you doing annoying older-brother things, but I can still see it; I can still sense your friendship, your reliance on each other, even if you wouldn’t admit it to me. Rhenner is always in the back of your mind. You both ask for one another when one is missing or gone. You make sure he is taken care of: “Is Rhenner coming too? Should I get one for Rhenner so he isn’t sad? I think Rhenner would like this one.” If I had one wish as a mom, I think it would be that you find forever joy, comfort, and friendship within your relationships with your family, and especially with your siblings (just kidding, I have a million wishes for you but this is a big one).
Another change we were all coping with is figuring out a new way to live. We purged a lot of our possessions, and brought our lives back to the basics. There were some things that were hard for you to let go of, but in the end you rolled with it all. We’re moving into a new (much, much tinier) home, one that emphasizes being outside and exploring, and I really think you’re going to fit right in. You like to claim the title of “Best Climber in the Family!” and I just love to watch you reach higher, climb harder, throw farther. I am starting to see the beginnings of your strength overtaking mine already. It is a strange feeling, to see the child that began as small as a grain of rice within your own body, already become something bigger than you are. Strange and yet fulfilling. It leaves me feeling hopeful, actually.
This past year you also started kindergarten at home with me. You are a typical kindergartener – hard to get sitting still, yet so eager and happy to be involved in your learning. Not every day was perfect, and certainly not every lesson was taught with patience and excitement, but the big picture of it all is lovely, and I think you and I both know this is the path we were meant to take. Your reading has absolutely exploded in these 9 short months. I never thought we would get past the initial struggle, but man, when it clicked with you – it really clicked. Now I’m starting to catch you on your bed with a chapter book and I see the good things about me resounding in you, and it makes me proud and excited.
This was also the year for Pokemon. Holy moly you can talk anyone’s ear off about Pokemon. I try to keep up and engaged, because I want you to know that your interests are important to me. That I can learn to enjoy something simply because it matters to you. I do this for you because (I love you obviously, but also) I want you to learn how to put relationships first. It’s a small way to show others you know how to make sacrifices for love. Anyway, back to the Pokemon. It is fun to see you be excited (er…obsessed) with something. You sit and organize your cards in different ways and reread everything each one does. I still don’t think you understand exactly how the game works, but you like to be as involved with those cards as you can. You also love to color (only the adult, “hard” coloring books), you’re good with numbers and math, you still of course love video games, you love riding your bike and playing at friends’ houses – you may be shy, but you need social time the most out of our whole family right now. You like to be heard and get very frustrated when you’re interrupted.
I think this year was different for us because we all saw and felt the push and pull of you becoming your own person. Your own interests and likes, your own opinions, friendships, and therefore…your own struggles, disappointments, and frustrations. Because you are our first, everything you go through, every phase, every age, every change, we feel the tide too, and it’s new for us too. And we respond, sometimes in the only way we know how. Sometimes we are just as confused as you are, sometimes we think we are right, and other times we have no idea which way to go. But no matter what, we ache to do right by you and by God. We hurt when you hurt, and we especially hurt when we’re the cause of your pain. We pray over you, Axton. Sometimes we cry over you, but always we are trying to act out of love and a concern for what’s best for you.
I think right now you’re still at that age where you assume we know everything. That’s a scary thing for a parent to have over their heads, especially because we know the day will come where that veil will be lifted and you’ll see us for what we are: just average people raising an average family, trying to squeeze the love out of average daily moments, so that the life we live actually feels extraordinary in its normalcy. When that time comes, I hope you’ll love us for our efforts.
Axton, my hope for you this year is that you learn to make good choices on your own because you know that that is ultimately what brings happiness. I hope you choose hope over fear, kindness over competition, friendship over winning. I hope you choose exploration and questioning over acceptance at face value. With our travels this year, I hope you find a way to have personal growth, but also recognize the value of family. I hope you fall in love with trees and dirt and clouds and freshwater rivers. I hope you fall in love with rocks and the sounds of birds and insects, with sunrises just as much as sunsets. I hope you learn to make friends instantly because everyone you meet is always in need of a smile and a kind word. I hope that when you pray, you feel heard. I hope when you reach out, you’ll find a hand reaching back. I hope when you fall, you remember you’re not alone. I hope when you’re lost, you know to whom you can turn to bring you back. I hope when you feel those tears being wiped away, you know you are loved.
Six years down, eternity to go. I’m always your Mama.