The swift cadence of the hurried footsteps coming down the hall was my first tip-off that a little boy was aware of the significance of today. "I BIGGER!!!," he shouted as he made the turn from living room into front hallway just steps from our bedroom door.
In my groggy stupor I smiled at the innocent belief on his part that he had, indeed, grown at least a foot overnight. "Happy Birthday, Jacob!" I whispered as he jumped up on the bed like a surfer mounting his aquatic steed and exclaimed "I BIGGER, MOMMY! I FOUR!" The jubilant tone of his voice was no match for the mile-wide, now-four-year-old grin on his little face.
As I reveled in his pre-dawn aging celebration, I found it hard to believe it had been four years since that day. A day when a young woman went into labor and when a slightly older woman sat in her home just north of Atlanta and cleaned and cried and worried and paced and cleaned a little more and double checked the closet in the newly-painted upstairs nursery so tightly jammed with newborn clothes that nary a Q-tip would have fit in there...a day when two families would be forever intertwined even though they might never speak or see each other again in this life...a day when a phone call from the adoption agency saying "he's here!" would bring the slightly older woman to her knees with tears of relief and panic and joy and simultaneous sorrow for the young woman facing a wrenching decision. November 29, 2007 indeed was a day of deep emotion and celebration and prayer and thanksgiving all wrapped into one.
Now as she watched his big four year old eyes sparkle and patted the soft chestnut colored hair on his head, she was overcome with a wave of celebration of her own. From the marks on the laundry room wall tracking his amazing growth spurt this year to the incessant questions about life that now spewed forth from his talkative little mouth, this child had blossomed. He was BIGGER! in every sense of the word and she was proud to have played a role in the spunky little fella's development.
The sense of importance about his getting "bigger" was not lost on me, either. As the younger brother to a very smart and rambunctious brother six years his senior, this milestone was a signal he was surely catching up (and ironically, in size, he actually is). But there were two much-greater benefits of this birthday than trying to be like his brother or giving his Momma a reason to reminisce...
"Mommy! Now that I BIGGER I can wear those shoes that are lighting up in there can't I Mommy? And can we get cupcakes with the rings in them for my friends, Mommy? Since I BIGGER today???"
Yes, sweet boy. Because you're BIGGER.
I love you, Jacob.
Happy 4th Birthday.