I am finding some of the greatest joys in my children. I have always loved being a mama, but adding five children to our family through adoption has shown me more about God’s heart than any other adventure I’ve ever taken. Yesterday was one of the most blessed days of my life!
Zeke was having his first birthday party. No. He was not one-year-old. It was his seventh birthday. It was his first birthday party. It was the first time he had ever received a birthday gift.
Zeke was born in China and spent the first six years of his life in a large social welfare institute. I fully believe he was cared for, but there was much of life he had never experienced. He joined our family in March when he we was six-years-old.
Zeke was an onlooker at other birthday parties, never quite knowing what to expect. He was not one of those children who anxiously hoped someone would allow him to help open gifts, because he didn’t understand anything about gift-receiving. Eight months after his homecoming, his brother Drew had a birthday party. Having been to several birthday parties by this time, Zeke had some idea of what to expect. It was not until he learned that his mama bought him a small gift, too, that he joyfully anticipated the party.
I think he opened his first gift ever the night of Drew’s birthday party. With stiff arms and clenched fists, sheer excitement flooded his entire body as he tore into the wrapping paper to find a Spider Man costume. Unknown to me, his Aunt Bobbie, the best sister this Mama could ever ask for, brought him a gift, too!
Zeke would frequently ask when his birthday was coming. We would show him the calendar, and he quickly learned to tell people his birthday was in Jan-u-air. (His birthday is estimated to be January 1st.) To help him better understand, we let him know his birthday would be after Christmas. Can you guess what happened on Christmas Day? He asked, “Is my birthday tomorrow?”
So Christmas Day, we took a look at the calendar again. We talked about night time and how many times he would go to sleep before his birthday party. He spent the next week counting his sleeps until his birthday. The night before his party, he was beaming as he lay in bed. I didn’t think he would ever fall asleep.
Party day arrived, and very early in the morning, a Chinese monkey jumped in my bed. He slid beside me for what I thought might be our usual cuddle time. But his body was stiff. His excitement had taken mastery over EVERY muscle in his body. “It’s my birthday!” he almost shouted in his morning whisper. We talked about the tasks of the day, work that must be done to prepare for his party. He wasa not able to hide his disappointment that it would be dark before his party began. I showed him how to watch the clock for 6:00. He watched it all day. He would ask, “Why 6 take-a so long?”
I chuckled as I prepared to go shopping. He ordinarily does NOT like for me to leave the house without him. There are two injustices he sees in such situations. One-he is very attached to his mama and does not like it when she spends time away from him. Two-he spent most of his life inside an institution. He does not think it is fair if someone gets to leave the house and he doesn’t.
This day, though, he had other ideas. He said, “You can go to this one town. And this one town. And this one town,” meaning I could go to 3 stores I suppose. Then he shouted, “And, you can bring me PRESENNNNNTTTTTTSSSS!!!!!”
When I came home, he was not unlike every other seven-year-old on a birthday party. He grabbed the Spider Man plates, cups, and napkins with a smile. He dressed and beamed when his sister pinned on his Spider Man birthday badge. He squealed like a girl when his big brother blew up his Spider Man center piece and put it on the dining room table. I can say, though, I have NEVER seen a child so excited over a birthday. NEVER. And I have seven children. With each gift that came into the room his muscles grew more and more tense with excitement. He counted and re-counted them. He shouted as loud as he could, “It’s my birthdaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!” and “I have 9 presssssseeeeennnntttts!!!!”
When the party officially began I called our family into the great room, big extended family, getting ready to ask Grandpa to bless the meal. I swept my Zeke off his feet and held him tight. The tears started to flow as I said to the family, “I am so glad God have Zeke to us.” I could hardly contain my emotions long enough to ask Grandpa to pray.
And, Zeke waited patiently for supper to end before he opened his presents. He did NOT open his presents like any other seven-year-old. He did NOT quickly tear through each package. He opened each one and them SCREAMED its contents outloud with his head tilted back and his voice filling the air. He wanted to open the contents of the package and examine it before he proceeded to the next gift.
He blew out his candle and delighted in his ice cream cake with the Power Ranger riding a motorcycle on top. The Red Ranger, of course, because he IS the Red Ranger.
And, then as my children, nieces, and nephews continued to play. My adult children and family continued to rejoice. I suddenly found myself on stimulation overload. I had to go outside and recalibrate my compass.
When the party was over and all was calm, I reflected on the best birthday party I had ever attended. The JOY! Not Zeke’s joy. My Joy! He had the best day of his life, but I…..I took the road less travelled. I got to be the Mama. And that made all the difference.
And, if I was smiling still from the events of the day, how much more was my Heavenly Father smiling....because HE gets to be the FAther of the Fatherless, and HE had the blessed privilege of putting this lonely child in a family.
He climbed in bed with his mama this morning, with his arms stiff, and his fists clenched, "It's my birthday!!!"
He shouted with joy as each gift came in the door.
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When he opened his gifts, he shouted the contents of the package as soon as he saw it! His smile never left his face. He may have facial spasms tonight in his sleep.
It's My Birthday
It's a Jaguar Hat!!!!
Squinkies! I asked for Squinkies!!!!
Didn't Grandma choose the best shirt ever for this boy????
And, just in case you've missed my past shameless pursuasions........the road less travelled is one blessed road. Look at those lists of children available for adoption. Look into the faces of older boys. You could have a day just like mine!