They turned 11, and the day was much like the Monday afternoon of the day they were born.
I remember laying there, pushing those boys out of my body, and noticing the bright blue sky outside and the sunshine.
It was a beautiful day.
Funny what you remember.
We had friends show up at 7:45 this morning with donuts, a sweet and lovely surprise for the boys.
I was already cooking sausage and planning to make scrambled eggs, but it turned out they ate donuts and sausage instead.
When we dropped them off at school, Claire and I ran errands and then came home to do party prep:
making chocolate cake (scratch chocolate cake with scratch peanut butter frosting and crumbled peanut butter cups)
and filling favor bags.
Then it was time to make the relay lists for the party. I split the boys into two teams and explained what they had to do: an act of service, 50 jumping jacks, a round of pictionary, a round of tricks on the trampoline, an egg/spoon relay down the backyard, 2 times around the block, and a scavenger hunt for 4 things. The winning team got full-size candy bars.
They nailed it, it was entertaining, and it kept things from getting too crazy.
(You've got to harness the energy of all those tween boys!)
After the party was over, a lazy couple of glorious hours ensued. My sister and I talked on the deck. After she left, I sent friends home and made tacos and we took some pictures and then sat down to eat.
And then we gathered round for a new tradition: drawing words for the birthday peeps from the "oracle" box one of my sisters gave to me on my birthday this year, and writing wishes for the birthday peeps for the coming year.
I choked up with one of Claire's simple messages:
Dear Isaiah, On your birthday I want to tell you that I love you always. Love, Claire
Mia wished that Benji would get a lego set that would end up being one of his all-time favorites and that Isaiah would make a meaningful friend.
Isaiah capitalized on a family joke when he wished Benji a bowl of salad.
And me? I offered a wish about Benj not letting fear hold him back, and I choked up when I read it. (Isn't that one of those life lessons that most of us have to learn again and again?) And for Isaiah? That he'd make a delectable cake and get some new cologne, among other things.
And tonight, after the sound effects of a "fart in a can" gift Benji got had died down (insert: You should have seen the laughter and fart imitations going down among all those boys while we were eating cake and ice cream and opening presents on the back lawn; I couldn't help it, I could. not. restrain. my laughter.), they read in their beds and then made me laugh with a rendition of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" that references the male anatomy as taught to them by a friend.
Oh my word.
And due to party prep, I didn't get to work today. The result? I worked late and looked up from my screen periodically at the three of them that fell asleep in my room.
And you know what?
Tonight I’m feeling very aware of something as I look at each of them; their lengthening bodies, their peaceful faces, the noise of the day now quiet and still.
It's that gentle, beautiful ache that reminds me they’ll be gone before I know it.
They have been--and are--the greatest privilege of my life.