Why Four{ish} Is My Favorite

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Why this fourish st{age} Izzy’s in right now is my favorite?…

In a nutshell, it’s because never in my life have I had more fun or laughed more than right now. Coming off the heels of two years in which I never cried more tears than before, it feels so good to read those words.

There have been many times where I lamented missing days gone by with Izzy, feeling it went too fast and I like I didn’t do enough to enjoy them while they were here. It’s nothing new… nothing that a million other parents haven’t said as well. But just because countless others say the same thing you are thinking or have thought isn’t a reason to not say it too. So I have/am… said/saying it.

It’s something I still think about from time to time. Honestly… I really do miss the days of holding his tiny body in my arms, of nursing him for hours each day, of rocking him to sleep. I miss the little coos and funny smiles while his eyes searched around the room to see all the unfamiliar things that life outside the womb offers little eyes to feast upon.

I also miss the sweet days when he learned to crawl, learned to walk, learned to form words and all the other things he learned to do for the first time. When he first ran, first laughed, first understood a joke, made his first joke, and first sang an actual song… or better yet, the first time he made up his own song. {I really wish I had documented things like that, because just like I’d love to have a record of the last time I’ll ever witness or experience certain things about him… like the last time I’ll ever hold him, a day I dread, or the last time he’ll use my favorite wrong-but-cuter pronunciation of a particular word… it would be so nice to have a record of all the firsts, too.}

I miss picking him up out of his crib every morning. I miss certain looks he had at certain ages. I miss certain walks he had, all of which he’s grown out of… or certain ways he ran, like the one where he looked like an orangutan because of the way his arms flopped around at his side like a wet noodle as he ran. I just miss the certain sweetness and innocence he had when he was more helpless and less independent. Of course, he’s still sweet… maybe more than ever. But also much more independent, and the innocence, while fitting for his age, is just not the same right now.

Anyway, I guess what I might be lamenting most of all is not that I won’t have those times back, but that I didn’t do enough to preserve all those details in them. We haven’t been big video-ers around here, likely because we never had the handiness of a smart phone to capture all the little things. We often told ourselves to make a point of it, even buying a small video camera, which he lost shortly after we moved into our current house {when he was 1.5 years old}. But we just never made it a priority, even when the video camera was handy and unlost. We do have some video, all of which is precious. And, of course, I have countless priceless photos, which I treasure for the memories they hold. But I wish I had a record of the sounds to go along with the sights. One reason I tried to document all the endearing things he was saying last year was so that I could remember the way he talked, and not just the way he looked. While having the words in black and white to re-read after I’ve forgotten them is a great, I want the voice and tone and all the little textures that came with them. Without an audio/video document of those things, I have only my memory to rely on.

Ha! My memory. It’s a tricky and complicated thing, my memory. I can remember, over the past four years, saying to myself, Never forget this moment. Etch it into your brain so that you will never forget the bliss you feel now, or the details that make this moment so special. I said this to myself just a couple of days ago as I sat on our deck with Izzy in the morning over coffee and a light breakfast. Yet, for all those times I remember telling myself that, I don’t remember the actual details of the moment… only that I told myself to remember it.

::SIGH::

And who of us isn’t too busy to capture all of it somehow? I should {and do} feel lucky that I was able to preserve as much as I did through photos and words, which is one of the biggest reasons I blog, and why I’m grateful I blogged so much last year. Maybe before cameras were invented, or any kind of recording device other than the pen, memories were sharper because they were relied on more frequently. Therein lies my conundrum, if so, because I intend to use technology to preserve the things I want preserved, but then often neglect to take advantage of that technology.

I guess I’m just saying, I want to do more to document it all… or start doing more again, the way I used to. In fact, I sort of already reignited that trend with a special project recently. I created a book of our Florida trip to give to Mr. B’s parents for that very reason {the digital version, of which, I will share here very soon}. If money were no object, I’d do a thousand more books to hold the thousand more folders of photos I have, along with the memories that go with them. I like the feel of a book you can turn the pages in.

I guess there’s always this blog to do the next best thing, and even just in writing this out, I realize how much more I want to get back to blogging and documenting these things. The nice thing about not having been as intentional about blogging lately is that I have savored the moments more while in them. But, to be honest, I find that taking a picture with intent to preserve a moment is, for me, a very beautiful way to savor. I proved this last night while the three of us were on the deck roasting marshmallows for s’mores. I was getting some photos of our time, because I wanted to remember exactly what the night was like forever. Mr. B. told me to stop being a photographer and just enjoy our time. Mind you, I only had the camera with me for a small fraction of the time we were out there enjoying the fire. So, I told him, “Trust me. I am enjoying our time. Even more so by taking pictures. But very much so, even without the camera.”

That’s my point. Photographers receive joy in taking pictures. Yes, it’s about the documenting. But it’s also about the picture itself. I’m not talking about anything technical. I’m just talking about being able to use the craft we most thrive in, not just to keep a moment, but also to savor it. All that is between us and the moment is an extra lens. We have lenses in our eyes. The camera is merely another lens. So if the lens of our eye helps our brain to savor a moment, then a second lens helps us savor doubly more… or that is how I see it! So, whether a photo of a client or a photo of my garden or a photo of my own child, it’s so much more than just a photo. But I digress, I know.

These photos, for instance, are not of anything particularly special. About a week ago, I noticed Izzy was just about to leave for the library with Mr. B. I saw him standing there by the door waiting for Dada, and I felt compelled to grab my camera. There was something special in this there’s-nothing-particularly-special-about-this-moment moment. So I clicked away.

Well, back to Izzy and all the stages that have passed. Somewhere along the line, my view changed a bit. I went from missing days gone by… stages of his life that we can’t have back… to being so content with the present that I find it difficult to even think about missing those days. If I force myself to think about them… yes, I still miss them.

But I wonder if this decline in a tendency to look back missingly {I made that word up} and this new love for and contentment with his current stage is all about having recently come through what was probably the most difficult phase we experienced with him. Up until about six months ago, we had what some might consider the perfect child. We know {and knew then}, he wasn’t by any means “perfect”. But we also knew we had it pretty darn easy. We were blessed with a good kid and easy go of it as parents, and we rarely felt like we were pulling our hair out over any one thing with him. Then we hit a rough patch. I’m sure that our rough patch is peanuts compared to what some parents have to deal with. Some parents know the word “rough” in ways we will never know when it comes to raising young kids, as they have had to deal with and juggle such difficult things they never asked for or expected. So, when I say rough, I don’t mean to be flippant or make light of the really tough things some parents face.

But, we did find ourselves worn out over certain issues.

All this to say, he seems to have turned a corner, like all kids do, I’m sure {because I’m guessing that every childhood is full of phases and stages, and that patience and persistence is the key in all of them}.

This corner turn isn’t exactly congruent with the turn from age three to four. But it’s pretty close. Still, even before his birthday a couple of weeks ago, I was super fond of this kid and the stage he is now in, and I have come to realize that, as much as I miss when he was an infant, a toddler and a beautiful little three-year-old sprouting into all things new, exciting and adventurous, I am most fond of this time of his life. It’s weird to say it, because I hadn’t thought I could say that about a particular age compared to the first few years. But it’s true! So much so, I can’t imagine, once again, any future age or stage being more likable than this one… though I know there will be much to admire about every one.

Basically, he amazes me every day these days. What he does and says has me in a constant state of beaming or smiling or laughing… or wonder… even head-scratching, in a good way. And he’s just plain pleasant to hang out with.

I’m having the time of my life with him. Those words don’t come lightly. I see them leap off the “page” and I am utterly grateful to be able to say them. He wasn’t given to us to replace anything we lost. I know that. But he sure hasn’t hurt. To say that he is a balm that aids our healing is a gross understatement. While I don’t feel that we deserve the loss we experienced {no one would}, I also don’t feel we deserve such a special son. Though he was a gift that preceded our loss, I believe he was given to us, in part, to soften the blow of that loss. I believe one of his purposes here with us is to help us heal in that loss, and as I’ve stated before, I believe God knew before we did that his name would be Isaac and he would fit its meaning in ways we never could have comprehended. It sounds weird to say, because we would have had this precious boy with us whether or not we decided to get pregnant a second time, and of course, his name would still have been Isaac, and still fitting. But, each time I read Psalm 139, I realize/remember that God does not work on a linear timeline the way we tend to think about time in terms of. He knew Isaac’s purpose, just as he did Anysia’s, long before I myself was born. I often forget this, as do many, I guess, when thinking about suffering… that of others or their own. But I believe God is working in ways we don’t know or can’t see, and sometimes we get to see it after all, while perhaps other times, not… at least not in this life.

This might sound like it’s so easy for me to say. But it’s not, and certainly wasn’t always. I remember once… no, twice… after we lost Anysia, having to hear the words, “Well, at least you have Isaac.” It was quite painful to hear at the time, because having a son did not undo the pain of losing a daughter. So, those words seemed very hurtful.

“At least“? Who hopes for the least? No one. Not people who have nothing, nor those who have little. Not even those who have plenty. People hope for the most… for abundance. It’s the very nature of the word hope to want or wait for abundance, not the least. I get what the two women who said this to me were saying. I do. But they were still knife-like words. I was later reminded that starting a sentence with the words “at least” when speaking to someone who is grieving or suffering is such a non-empathetic response when I saw this animation, but have tried to let those words go, even with the affirmation that it was an insensitive thing to say.

My point being, at the time, nothing could ease the pain of our loss… not even the fact that we had a healthy child already. While we were grateful every minute for our healthy son at every point, he did not ease the pain at every point. That’s why I say, I don’t take those words lightly… “I’m having the time of my life with him.” I know there are people in the midst of their suffering who don’t feel like they have such a gift to ease their pain. I was there. And I know there are some that may never sense they’ve been given such a balm. It’s why I mention the non-linear work of God, something I realize is hard to trust in when we don’t always get to see it.

Tomorrow, Izzy could be taken from me. It would be so very hard to think of life non-linearly. And I would surely be in despair, with even memories unable to give me solace. I know I couldn’t so easily see God as working outside my limited vision as I do now… or see God as giving… if that were to happen. Even a loss much less devastating would likely cause doubt or disbelief in God’s goodness, just as I’ve struggled with believing it at times over the past couple of years.

My thoughts are a bit all over, here. I realize that. I jumped on here today to talk about why four is my favorite age so far. And here I am talking about how hard it would be… is… to trust God when it seems like loss is all there is to know. It’s hard to trust and love or invest in anything, because at any time, any thing could be lost.

Maybe that’s the real reason I am writing… since that is what I’ve ended up bearing my heart about. Maybe on my heart is that I hope that we who suffer or have suffered can learn to embrace the gifts we do have… and they are there… without fearing they, too, will be lost or taken. I hope that for myself.

Celebrating my son helps me. But it’s also painful at the same time, because celebrating him is the biggest reminder I have of what we lost.

Sill, I want to do it.

Quite literally, we celebrated him, his birth and the fact that he turned four a couple of weeks ago with birthday outings and such. I have many photos to share from those celebratory days. But today it was just these pictures, of an ordinary moment on an ordinary day, that I wanted to post.
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I should journal so much about him… for instance, about some of our interesting conversations. I know he’ll always be learning new words and new ways of speaking. But for the most part, he’s now a full-on talker and conversationalist. Like a regular person I can have regular discussions with. It’s just so cool to have that with my son for the first time. It’s shifting to a relationship that is so much more than just the mom who’s instructing and guiding her son. We just talk now. I simply love that.

And there’s so much more… the things he creates… what he is curious about… all the things he’s proud of knowing or learning… the questions he asks… the conclusions he comes up with all on his own… emerging emotions and ways of expressing things… the inner workings of his mind that come out in the many delightful and often funny things he says, as well as in the things he makes or does with his hands. And then there are his dance moves, and the most hilarious facial expressions that accompany them. Everything. He is just a fun little guy to be around right now.

I truly miss writing down all the things he says and blogging them here. Each of those posts containing his words that I put on here last year are such gems to me. And ever more sweet are the things he’s been saying these past six months, so few of which I have written down. I could just kick myself!

That said, I have to share the sweetest thing he said this morning over brunch. Our new favorite radio station was on, and a well-known Kenny Rogers song came on {can’t recall the name of it}. I’d never paid much attention to the lyrics before, but he is always noticing what’s said in songs. And today was no exception.

So, listening keenly as he always does, he heard the words “…you decorated my life… created a world…”

Izzy stopped paying attention to the words of the song so he could proudly speak up. “You know! Who created the world is God. I already know that.”

It was priceless. Always listening. Always processing. Always giving his two cents. I love him so.

Hands down, right now is my favorite st{age}.

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