To Liam on his 4th Birthday
This morning I got alert on a social network of a picture that I took four years ago today. It was you, newly born with a hospital blanket wrapped around you and a cap on your head. Your eyes peered out of your adorably pudgy face. It was like you were still trying to take in this strange new world into which you had been born.
It's hard to believe that was you at one time. Especially considering what happened just now. I am sitting in you and your brother's room as you guys try to go to sleep. The word "try" is our sticking point. It's been a busy day. Your grandparents, my mom and dad, came into town from South Carolina. We had church this morning and then a birthday party this afternoon. I think you both are still a bit wired from the day's activities.
In the dim light of the room, I saw your face appear. My eyes narrowed at you. You're not supposed to be out of bed. You're stalling. "Yes?" I ask you. You grin. You know exactly what you're doing and you absolutely know that you are going to get away with it. You smile. "I want to fill your bucket, daddy." This is what you've been saying this past week when you want to hug us. I sigh and say, "Okay." And you give me a hug. You are amazing at giving hugs. And it does fill me up.
This past year has probably been the most difficult of your young life. There has been so much change. I came to Nashville back in September to start at the church while you, your mom, and brother stayed in South Carolina until December. It was tough on me. It was tough on your mom. It was tough on Jim. But it was the toughest on you. You didn't quite understand calling and the great opportunity that awaited all of us in a new state. You just knew that your dad was not there every day and that's hard for a three year old.
We would see each other about every couple of weeks. You guys would come up to Tennessee or I would visit you in Spartanburg. I remember visiting all of you in late November. We were in the home stretch, but the home stretch is often the hardest part. I remember sitting on the couch with you as we watched Daniel Tiger. Your head was buried in the crook of my neck and your small hand reached around and grasped my cheek. We sat like that for maybe a hour. You weren't going to let me go and I didn't want to. Thinking about that night still makes my eyes well up.
We've been back together for about four months and you're adjusting pretty well. You are a pretty resilient guy. You do cling to your mom and I a good bit more and I worry that part of you fears that one of your parents is going to go away again. We're not. Not if we have any say in it. And I want you to know that there is no distance too great that your mom and I won't come running to you if you need us. We love you more than you could possibly imagine.
I want you to know that on this day you turned four, you are full of energy and joy. You ramble on and on with stories and random comments that sometimes don't make sense. You love to tell jokes that make too much sense. You love to eat. You got superheroes, Star Wars figures, Paw Patrol characters, Legos, but the thing you loved the most today was a stuffed Scooby-Doo. You are sleeping with him right now. When you get knocked down, you bounce right back up. You pitch fits and fight with your brother and turn on the waterworks to get your way at times because you are not perfect. But you are pretty darn amazing. And when I see you smile, when I hear your voice, or receive one of your strong little hugs, it fills me up.
I look forward to many more birthdays with you, buddy. I look forward to seeing the kind of man that you grow up to be and pray that you will choose to love God and those around you with the same heart that you love today. Happy Birthday Liam. Your mom and I are so ridiculously lucky to be your parents.