Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Birthday to Shep!!

Four years ago today my world was turned inside out and upside down by this:

He looks innocent enough, right? How could eight and a half pounds cause so much upset? But he did.

I was thinking about this last night, about how hard it was when he was born. I am getting fuzzy on the memories. Ingram is so easy to me now. All he does is eat, sleep, swing, and smile. He is much easier than a 4 year old learning how to lie, a terribly terribly 2 year old, or a 1 year old who is a little tornado. But when Shep was Ingram's age, I was hanging on by a thread. I know now that it was because I was dying a little bit every day, and while there was an Easter coming, the crucifixion was slow and so painful. I was utterly helplessly in love with this little bitty boy, I wanted to inhale him, he was so delightful and delicious. I was overwhelmed by both gratitude and fear. But the Missy that I had grown used to was disappearing, some days slow, some sleepless nights, very fast, and it was discombobulating to say the least.

Once I asked a doctor friend of mine why it hurts when you have the flu, what actually causes the pain. His reply "cell death" sounded so disgusting to me. But that is what becoming a mother is like, in so many ways. Cell death. And it is more painful than the flu. I had to learn - am still learning - to die to myself, to die to my desires, my spontaneity, my freedom, my illusion that I had any control over anything, let alone another little person. Wow, did my preconceptions regarding "good motherhood" die, always through failure at achieving those very standards. Many parts of my personality needed to be killed, are still in the process of being killed: my selfishness, my temper. The new Missy, the Mom, is still a work in progress, and I get the feeling that this work will go on until my cells experience a literal death.

One thing for certain: I am a much better person since Shepherd, and his subsequent sisters and brother, graced my life. I am much less judgmental, especially of other parents. including my own - and myself. I know now that we are all just making this up as we go along, and praying for the best. I am more loving and realize that every person is some mother's child. I can't watch the news very much anymore, and I have work hard to stave off depression when I hear of a child being hurt or lost.

The greatest blessing is this: I think I know the heart of God better now. By loving my children, I can grasp how deep and wide his love is for me. I understand now how he would die for me, because I would die for either of them without a second thought. Mostly, my faith in God's providence has been strengthened. In the beginning of Shepherd's life, I was frequently paralyzed by fear that something would happen to him. My trust in God was tested in a way it had never even come close to being tested before. And believe me, there have been some scary and dangerous situations - but God has protected them, renewing my faith and calming my fears each time.

Our friends Mark and Jenny tell the story of how their firstborn had to sleep on his tummy once due to a cold. They traded shifts all night long to literally watch him as he slept, so afraid were they that SIDS would steal him in the night. These are the crazy things parents do. I know now that our crazy Heavenly Father stares in the beds of each of my children each night, all night long. He stares at my bed too, and this is the certain knowledge that has made it possible for me to sleep at all for the past four years. I don't have to be the perfect parent. That job is already being filled.

Happy Birthday, sweet Shepherd. What a difference you've made in my life.


  1. Happy birthday, Shepherd! I can't believe what a big boy you are!!!! I left your present with Mimi, so I hope you got it and will enjoy it.

  2. Hey, I am officially de-lurking as a reader of your blog. Congrats on another milestone & your big boy! Guess it's a good thing that Four under Four was taken as a blog title.........

  3. Happy Birthday Shepherd! So true what you said. . .what an amazing difference children make in the lives of their parents!

  4. cell death. Yep, I totally get that.

    What a gorgeous baby!



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