This morning started out like any other morning except last night I hung birthday banners and balloons at the kitchen island. Today was my oldest son’s eighth birthday. It’s one of our traditions and every year, every birthday, the tradition is the same. Oh, and today there were doughnuts. We don’t usually have doughnuts for breakfast.
But my youngest wasn’t feeling well today so after dropping the older two at school, we spent the whole day home. I wasn’t able to get a few of the things done that I had planned but, because of that interruption, I learned a few things about what matters most. I didn’t intend to make a movie of my son’s 8 year old life, but it kind of just happened. I started looking through all my photos, pulling my favorites from the day he was born up to present. It only made sense to do something with them.
I decided to put them together in a movie slideshow and I have no idea how I managed to do it. How I taught myself in one afternoon to make a movie. But I did. And I’ve watched it probably over a hundred times.
Tonight after my husband got home from work we crowded around the kitchen island and I played the movie for all my boys. It was set to “Let them be little” by Lonestar. All my boys – the husband one included – were moved to tears. Because in it we were reminded of who our son is. We were reminded who we are as a family. And we could literally see how fast the time is going.
In the midst of our daily life and chaos and trying to get all the things done it’s so easy to overlook who our kids are, and what we value, and only see the frustration, the sibling rivalry and the mess. But the photos that have been taken over our kids’ lives captured the true heart of our sons and the spirit of our family. What matters most.
In spite of the day to day troubles, arguments and chaos, we saw this boy for who he is: one of the most loving, adventurous, nurturing and generous souls I have ever met. In nearly every photo he is holding, hugging, loving, snuggling or rescuing something. Or trying something new. If it involves nature or animals or kindness, he’s all in. This boy lives his life all in for love. He is loyal and brave and kind.
We also made his birthday cake this year. Together. I’ll admit, most years I buy a cake because it’s just easier and better than anything I can make on my own. But this year I made one. He wanted lemon cake with blue cream cheese frosting. And he wanted to decorate it himself. I will just say this cake would never make a pinterest board but it couldn’t have been more perfect. I didn’t even have to close my eyes! Perfectionism is not the boss of me!
Here’s my birthday boy and his sweet little brothers and our homemade cake. Isn’t it great?!
He was so happy. Imperfect, and completely happy. And I learned that’s what matters most. This year his birthday reflected him, his life, what he loves, what he thinks is cool, and not any ridiculous notion of what his mom thought would look good from a pinterest board somewhere that is neither practical, nor reasonable, nor important!
Far too often I’m more concerned with how things look, than how they make my family feel. Today I learned some incredibly valuable things, because kids teach. They teach us so much if we’re just willing to see.
Here are a few things I learned about what matters most:
1. The greatest gift we can give our kids is our TIME. Taking the time to make a memory video was the most incredible gift to my son, our family, and to myself. I’ve cried all the tears and relived all the days and just feel so incredibly grateful.
2. The best things are not often planned. Sometimes we’re afraid if we can’t do it perfectly we just shouldn’t do it at all. Today I was reminded you can’t plan fun. We just need to make room for it. Spontaneous and imperfect is sometimes exactly perfect.
3. It is better to love imperfectly with your whole heart than picture perfect but meaningless. We live in a time where our lives and celebrations are ruled by pinterest boards and whatever news feed of our choice. The “ideal” is everywhere but it often leaves us feeling exhausted and more like a failure. This year our lemon cake with blue cream cheese frosting and rainbow marshmallows made a family brilliantly happy.
Picture perfect doesn’t mean better. Planned doesn’t always mean fun. What matters most is that we love with our whole hearts and give one another the gift of our time and our attention. That we take the time to see each other for who they are, and in so doing are reminded of who we are.