Today is our second son's twenty-seventh birthday. As is my recent practice, I scrounged around for a fun old photo to commemorate the occasion and, upon locating one, quickly posted it to Facebook. "Still a keeper!" I captioned and smiled as I moved on to busy myself with other things.
Later, upon looking again at the two-decades-old picture, I checked myself as I saw with fresh eyes our son's expression and suddenly comprehended what I had missed those many years ago. Look again with me, won't you?
Do you see the conquering boy's fixed gaze? His focused biting of the lip? The firmly clenched fist thrust forward as he displayed with pride his marvelous catch? Why had it taken so long for me to see? That little boy who I always thought to be the easy going one, the quiet one, the uncomplaining third child of four had the early seeds of drive and determination sprouting even then. But, as I stated above, I had too quickly moved on to busy myself with other things and had missed those that were right in front of me.
So with a blink, the years have passed. The little boy is grown, and I, as his mother, feel surprised about the man he has become. Confident. Driven. Successful. Still loving. Still gentle in spirit. But different than I had expected. How is it that we carry a child for nine months (or spend years preparing to adopt), we nurse them, cuddle them, wipe both ends of them, clean, feed, teach, discipline, love... and yet know them so imperfectly? Perhaps it can't be helped, and maybe it isn't all bad. To be sure, it is a bit of serendipity to suddenly notice with joy and surprise the men and women our little ones become. Kind of like Christmas again - the day after Christmas! And yet in our busyness, we often miss the things that ought not to be missed.
May it not be so today.