Shep turned 5 a few days before Christmas. Celebrating another year older is always special as a parent, but celebrating Shepherd’s birthdays tug at my heart a little more than usual. He turned three and half in the PICU, his second day there after being rushed in by ambulance the day before. I remember realizing the date and my heart plummeting, because I couldn’t tell him it was his half birthday, and I didn’t know if he’d ever open his eyes again. With dread I realized I might have already celebrating my son’s last birthday without knowing it. When Shep turned 4, throwing his party was a turning point in my grief, I was finally able to look forward on his life with joy and hope instead of focusing on all the trauma he’d had to endure at such a young age.
And in a flash four became five. Sweet Shep likes to have his parties at our home, even though I offered him a few cooler locations since 5 counts as a Big One in birthday years. He finally cut me off, saying “But Mom, our house if fun.” Well, can’t argue with that. So we planned our little party, and then 3 out 4 of us caught the stomach bug. I finally had to call the whole thing off, the night before. I think that’s a parental right of passage, canceling a party in the eleventh hour.
We finally made it up today: A handful of neighborhood boys and school friends, and a bucket of foam light sabers. It was all they needed to have a great time. I tied white “storm trooper” balloons to water bottles thinking the boys could spend time fighting the helium balloons with their foam weapons. Thirty seconds after the first guests arrived those balloons were obliterated and the boys were running circles around the house screaming and attacking each other. We eventually funneled them outside with the Dads. I love boys and their wild ways, yet it sometimes surprises me when I see Shep cut loose around his friends, officially a BOY: rough and loud and crazy. His party was proved his age, and all that comes with it. They were in heaven, and that made me happy.
Shep is five. And we are so lucky to have him. He’s been described as the kid who “could talk the hair off a dog” and I love this description of him. It’s absolutely true. He doesn’t know a stranger. His humor and imagination are on-point. You have to beg him for a minute of silence in between stories. He is emotional… he loves big and feels deep, good or bad. His temper can be fierce and unpredictable, but his empathy is wise beyond his years. And underneath all that ornery is a heart of gold. Shepherd, your daddy and I are totally loving watching you grow up. Can’t wait to see what 5 looks like for you.