…my Ash is ten.
So this morning I told Ash that part of the manhood ritual of turning 10 was a name change and we were changing his name to Ishbosheth. We will call him Ish instead of Ash from now on. He wasn’t buying it. He ducked his head, hair falling over his eyes, and smiled a half smile and shook his head at me.
Wait a minute.
Ten years ago I held my firstborn in my arms and wept. Brian held him and looked at him closely, “He looks like an Asher, doesn’t he?” Oh, yes, he is definitely an Asher.
That is my boy.
In all of his intensity and exuberance, there is a quiet happiness and a loud blessing to his life. He laughs uproariously and smiles softly. The last five years have been hard on him–so very hard–and yet he holds on to hope and joy and happiness in the midst of it all.
And he teaches me.
He teaches me that even when things are hard–even when things don’t go your way–even when you fail–there is always grace and forgiveness and joy and change waiting and chasing and finding us.
And we are blessed.
I look at him in awe these days. Just this whole growing up thing. He’s such a little man now.
He’s a brilliant child. Brilliant. Always has been. But he takes no pride in his brilliance. He just is who he is. And he’s okay with that. He’ll shrug and say, “I have the mind God gave me.”
We talked this morning about King David dancing in front of the ark of the covenant and how his wife scorned him for dancing with ordinary people without his kingly finery. She told him he was a fool. He told her that it wasn’t about his greatness or his foolishness. All glory and praise go to God. He is the One Who is great.
Then we talked about what that looks like for us. How all of the things God has given us are ways we can glorify Him. How when someone says, “You are awesome. Look how well you read or how well you run or how well you did on that test,” our response is to point to God and give him the credit. “Thank you. It’s only because God gave me the ability or the strength or made me this way.”
Asher grinned that half-smile again. “I am who I am because God made me amazing.” I love his confidence in who he is. He knows we are all amazing creatures, and he is glad he’s amazing, too.
Confident. Handsome. Strong-willed. Intense. Exuberant. Brilliant. Wise. Thoughtful. Caring. Driven.
That is my dear boy. And that’s only the beginning of who he is and who he will become.
Ash ordered chili and cornbread for his birthday supper and mint chocolate cupcakes. Those ten candles looked like so many! We opened presents and wrote cards and Bear called Ash, “Best brother ever!” And Bella girl drew two pigs and told him how much she loved him.
It wasn’t a perfect birthday night. We had some fights to break up and Bear told me he didn’t like my mean voice (*sigh*). But we forgave and hugged and moved forward. That’s what we are all learning… to move forward in this life.
So no, it wasn’t a perfect night. But it was perfectly us… that’s the beauty of this it all. And when Ash looks back on his 10th birthday, he’ll remember a scavenger hunt that led him to discover an upcoming trip to Medieval Times… just Ash and us.
He’ll remember how we spent last night re-reading old stories I’d written about them and laughing at the silliness of it all… How Bear peed on Bella and how Ash drew on his walls with permanent marker and blamed it on Bear and how Bella Girl loved her “yipstick”. (And I’m hoping he won’t remember my lack of foresight in reading about our last day with our kitties. Bella and Bear both cried for an hour last night! *sigh* We miss our kitties.)
He’ll remember we let him stay up later than usual so he could read his new Harry Potter book for an hour.
And I’m hoping he’ll remember how when I asked him before supper what the best part of his birthday was so far, he laughed and said, “Ask me after I open my presents.” But then he lept into my arms with a bear hug.
And he hugged me and whispered.
And he sat with me, holding me with his head on my shoulder for a long time. So long that I was the one who had to pull away when the timer for the muffins went off.
Yes. Life has been hard on him these past years. But he has become so wonderful because of it.
So very wonderful.
It seems like yesterday he was 18 months old and saying “Ashes happy. Eat yogurt.” (His first sentence would be about food.) Now he’s eating 6 pieces of pizza in one sitting and hungry an hour later.
Ten amazing years. Ten beautiful years.
Ten years that have only made my heart bigger.
And I wonder…
How can a heart that’s so full hold any more?
Happy Birthday, dear boy.
You are God’s gift to me.