To My Baby...You Changed Me

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 If you would have known me as a little girl growing up in the cornfields of Delaware, constructing houses out of scrap wood and branches in the woods, sewing clothes for doll babies, and checking out thick biographies on Princess Dianna at the library, you would know that I always wanted to be a mother. Since I can remember I have been surrounded by children. I taught piano lessons in my teenage years...nannied four children to pay for a year of college courses...and treated every one of the 12 siblings younger than me like they were my own.

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I got married at 19 and (almost) seamlessly we started our family really young. I have spent most of my twenties grappling with my identity. Who I am as a woman, but who I am as a mother. The two intertwine and weave together like threads on a quilt and I've been sewn into colors and patterns I would have never seen had I not experienced birth and death and rebirth in the last 8 years.

I often wonder who I would be had I reversed the order of my life. Had there not been an Emma, a Shiloh, a Keller, and a Hugh, but a degree hung on the walls, pant suits and espressos at 8am meetings. I look back for some kind of plan to point to and marvel that each child has been born into vastly different time periods of my life. The afterbirth of my grandfather's passing and the spoon-feeding of my grandmother in the nursing home. The house with the dirt crawl space in the living room and the blizzard in Oklahoma. I wonder if there are degrees for surviving loss and staying married and changing 2,459 diapers?

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My baby turns one today and although it feels like a huge milestone for our family and me in particular, I know that in time it will blend in with our story quilt like all of the other birthdays, and wake-up-in-heaven-days, and new places with new people and new stories. That this ebb and flow of life is actually our living being spent. And we spend every. single. day. on what we choose.

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I am no different than any other woman who has ever given birth to a child, but I am different because I gave birth to a baby Hugh in a Spartanburg hospital on a rainy Tuesday with my husband by my side after a long and hard 9 months. That his first cry was the floodgate to a year's worth of tears and that my own personal doctorate had been accomplished in the school of life, whether I had the paper in my hand to wave or not. Hugh's brand new, slow-blinking eyes reflected a different woman after that pregnancy and a different mother because God intertwines our stitches and our stories.

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While we celebrate Hugh's little life today with Starbucks cake pops and 3 proud older siblings, we also celebrate the goodness of God in keeping us. In teaching us. In promises, truth, and sanctification. We celebrate the people we become when our lives are changed by another's.

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That's you, baby Hugh.

And we love you.

Mary Beth