Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sebastian ist vier geworden

My sweet, peaceful, kind, thoughtful, and curious little man turned four on Thursday. I felt such a mix of emotions seeing him anticipate and then experience such a special day. He certainly liked his birthday last year, but this year was the real deal. He anticipated it for the first time, with no reminders from us. He knew there would be a birthday cake, and he knew there would be a party, and he knew there would be gifts. Suddenly I was experiencing what all mothers experience eventually: pressure to not mess it all up! However, no matter how much I tried to prepare for Seb's birthday ahead of time so that we could all have a fun, calm, and enjoyable day, one thing after another went awry, and I still ended up staying up way too late on Wednesday night baking his birthday cake, and iced it and decorated for his party within 45 minutes of when people arrived to celebrate! Our apartment literally looked like a tornado had ripped through it, and I was very thankful that my husband is observant and conscientious (or maybe just embarrassed?) and politely told our guests that they could just leave things on the table in the common room and that we would clean up later. I am also thankful that we had a room that was not in our apartment in which to have the party. There are some perks to living a dorm-like life, after all.

We kept everything very simple. We wanted it to feel special for Sebastian, but we were also aware that whatever we do now sets a precedent for future birthdays. We don't want our kids to get drowned in gifts, decorations, and huge bashes with so many kids that no one can see straight. It's a day to celebrate our boy and say, "We are so happy you were born!" For Seb's party we did a Fußball theme. Just balloons, plates & napkins, and cake. Bam. I have to thank my in-laws for sending Sebastian a helium tank for his birthday, because having balloons at his party that were afloat definitely made everything seem much more festive. (Is that not a brilliant gift idea?!).

A couple things that surprised me about Seb turning 4 were 1) how I anticipated and enjoyed his birthday almost as if it was my own, and 2) how not-sad I was that he is getting older. I certainly felt a wide-range of emotions, but I have to say I feel almost like I can imagine him graduating from highschool, or reaching some other milestone that tells me officially that he's not a baby any more. I know, he's only FOUR! But I guess I'm just saying that as much as I love each and every stage that he goes through, I also love seeing how he is growing and maturing and becoming more adult. I cherish how dependent he is, but at the same time still push him to be independent. I want him to be able to be the man God has created him to be. I long, just as he longs, for him to be "big like daddy," to have maturity and wisdom, and the ability to selflessly love those around him. I loved Seb's birthday because it was a reminder of how he is growing—a thing that makes my heart sing—but here's the tension: I also wanted to freeze time because it was a reminder of how he's just a little guy that wants nothing more than to play at his favorite park in the rain, get a full-size soccer ball for his birthday and have a really big big BIG geburtstagstorte*. I cherish that he is with me all the time. I get to snuggle him before bed, read him stories, take him places, and tell him I love him any time I want. It's that tension between innocence and growth. I don't want things to change, and yet I do want them to change. I want him to become more fully himself, and that is the joy I feel when like yesterday he says with an excited whisper, "Mama! Ich bin jetzt vier!"*

*birthday cake
*"Mama! I'm four now!"

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