Clare Saumell VanderWeele

word wrangler.

Birthday Wishes

I’ve found out over the years that I’m pretty good at killing things.

Walk in my house and you’ll see the ridiculous number of plants that thrive in my home. But in reality, they are a mere fraction of all the ones I’ve ever owned before inadvertently killing them off.

And it’s not just plants. I’ve lost count of the number of fish I ever saw floating lifelessly upside down before I decided to get rid of the fish tank.

This year, though, I’ve planted a hundred promising seeds. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, watermelon, cauliflower, and more. Some are growing already, their tiny green heads poking up above the rich soil.

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But it wasn’t my hand alone that planted them. It was you, sweet one, who helped me. Your little hands grabbing mounds of soil and scattering seeds and filling the yellow watering can. We watch the soil daily for new seedlings bursting with life.

I pray they won’t die; that we can cultivate this crop together; that the joyful, crooked smile on your face won’t fade.

Nicholas, it’s your fourth birthday, and I can’t quite believe it’s been that long or that short. It’s been so long ago since I first held your tiny wet body, yet not so very long since I was so familiar with the fear that I’d mess it all up, holding vigil over your every breath as you slept.

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You were born on a Good Friday, leaving me twice rescued by love.

That deep, motherly love they speak of and romanticize was not instantaneous like they promise. But when it did hit me, finally more powerful than the fear I had in my ability to keep you alive, it surprised me. My heart swelled and keeps swelling with every clinging hug and sloppy kiss you give me.

Parenthood is the messiest thing I’ve ever gotten myself into. I struggle between moments of grace and flashes of chaos. Between pure joy and weary desperation. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and yet plead for quiet.

You’ve opened my eyes to the darkest, most selfish parts of my heart and challenge me to do better, be better, love better.

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I often wonder how I will ever impart upon you everything I would want you to know. And then I remember that probably the best way I know how to teach is to simply live it out as gracefully, faithfully, and lovingly as I can. This is my birthday wish for you.

claresig

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2 Comments

  1. Happy birthday, little fella. May this year be full of joy and adventure and knowing God.

    Love,
    Maggie

  2. Laura Vazquez

    April 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Clare,
    Your thoughts on paper flow in such a beautiful wau. Grateful to be connected in this way and encouraged by the grace that you share in your writing. Praise God for your little one and know you will continue to be the best mom to him!

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