I tucked you in last night, kissed your forehead and asked you not to fall asleep so that you would stay four years old forever.
You giggled, pulled your thumb out of your mouth long enough to kiss me back and told me that in the morning you were going to wake up and be five. And then six, and then seven, and then eight...
The day we found out you were coming I called your dad in to our room and blindsided him with the news that I was going to take a pregnancy test. I went into the bathroom and then set the plastic stick on top of the toilet with a shaking hand. Your dad and I sat silent, not touching, on the edge of our bed while we stared at our phones and waited.
Motherhood and I weren't on the best of terms.
Your sister was seven months old and your brother had just turned two. We lived in a modest house with three bedrooms, all of which were already occupied. Where would you sleep? I cringed thinking about your newborn cries disrupting the precarious sleep we had only just established. We spent our days nursing, eating Cheerios, playing and watching Mickey over and over and over again.
My body and heart were wrung out daily before 10am while my brain rattled around seeking a way to be useful, any little way, all day long. I was lonely all the time and never, ever, alone. It was too much and not enough.
Time was up.
Neither of us moved. My legs were numb and my breath was caught in my throat. I told your dad he had to go look. He walked into the bathroom and came back with a whispered, "we're pregnant..."
"Not pregnant? Oh thank God!" I breathed out and collapsed back onto the bed.
"No babe. Pregnant. It's positive. You're pregnant."
I didn't cry. I just sat up slowly and began panicking.
Being pregnant with you was an ugly kind of hard. Life felt heavy every day for nine months. Getting your infant sister snapped into her carseat and bending over my swollen belly to tie the laces of your brother's shoes took all of my energy most mornings. Your sister hated being in her carseat. Your brother always wanted to tie his own damn shoes. I was a yeller. A crier.
Over and over I would repeat truth to my heart: children are a blessing. I would remind myself of the many families who prayed for a child month after month. We settled on the name Benjamin because you were going to be our last son. We added the name Isaac - he laughs - because we desperately needed to lift the heaviness and feel the joy of laughter when we looked on you.
Five years later?
Life is an exhausting and joyful chaos of small bodies and spilled milk, time-outs and tantrums, bike rides and bedtime snuggles.
You are our middle child- sandwiched between a big brother and sister and a little brother. You rarely get anything first. Your clothes are handed-down, your toys at the mercy of big and little brothers. You're too little to ride around the block by yourself, too big to wait at home while the other kids go off to explore. You watch TV shows we never would have let your older siblings watch.
When you were born you had the bluest of eyes. Your brother and sister did at first as well, but theirs soon darkened into a deep brown. Yours grew lighter and clearer as the months passed. We were all thrilled that Daddy's blue eyes had finally wrested a Punnet square victory from my dominant brown-eyed genes.
After your blue-eyed little brother was born it was months before I realized your blue eyes were gone. In typical fashion, you had changed dramatically while my back was turned and the blue we had adored and nicknamed you for had quietly been replaced by a sea-glass green.
Your eyes have become my reminder, my reassurance that you are unique in the universe, that my fears of not giving you enough are foundless. You are a divine creation. You could never be lost or unknown.
After five years with you, this is what we know:
You crave physical touch and are always asking for a kiss, a back rub, a tickle, a wrestling match.
You delight in taking baths and hunting for turtles by the creek.
You have a lisp and a thumb addiction and you carry that ragged blue lovie around too much of the time.
You like alligators and sharks and monsters with sharp teeth and pointy claws.
You are fiercely sensitive, quick to cry, but quick to forgive and offer your tender heart back to each of us.
You are the only laid-back child out of four dang kids. Thank you for that.
You are the quick-witted one.
The one who makes us laugh til our bellies ache and tears stream down our cheeks.
You are the one who lightens every day.
Happy 5th Birthday to the child we never expected. The son of our right hand, a child of laughter and mischief. Out of the blue, our green-eyed wonder.