Eight Epic Years of Eli

Eli’s 8th birthday was July 17th. We were home in Kansas City for this one for the first time since 2008. Eli had his first and second birthday’s here and then has celebrated each new year of life at Castaway- each one a memorable and wonderful celebration with new friends and sweet community- and a zipline! Eli was grateful and fully engaged in each of those but yearned for one year of a birthday at home.

As we talked and planned, Eli wasn’t keen on a water party at the pool or home. He didn’t want a lot of games or to go somewhere with a bunch of friends. After sharing some ideas and talking it out, he and I settled on a home family party and a trip to Worlds of Fun with some friends.

As the date for the “family” party drew near, the guest list expanded. I invited the Sollar’s five and Eli invited some friends from the swim team. We planned a bey blades* tournament (*”bey blades are basically completely awesome, extreme metal spinning tops” that “battle” each other 1:1 in a plastic stadium. Last one spinning wins.- Eli’s explanation) and picked out some items for the menu. When I asked what he wanted for an appetizer, Eli suggested root beer floats like we had at our wedding. Always game for RB floats at a party, I said yes!

A couple days before the Thursday party, Eli and I were butting heads a bit. He had great expectations and I couldn’t seem to please him. Nothing I bought or suggested was quite right.  Eli is particular, thinks about all sides of something, has a rock solid memory, loves being right and often is, and has elaborately creative ideas that make something ordinary into an experience. Last week, some of his strengths, were pushing me into my weaknesses- ie: impatience,  in the midst of the party planning.

I had a strong emotional moment Wednesday night- birthday eve. Eli said he probably wouldn’t like the ice cream I’d carefully and proudly selected for him, and I, with all the maturity I’ve developed in almost 34 years, took it as a deeply personal insult. I’m sure Eli didn’t understand why I was hurt by an ice cream comment and he shouldn’t fully have to. I had thoughts and emotions and memories, hopes, dreams, questions, and love that I had to process. Thankfully, Drew was home to take over while I took a shower- letting the 8 years of being Eli’s mom, flow through my head.

Eli was a wonderful surprise. We were unprepared to be parents until he was set in our arms- at which point, I felt the most overwhelming sense of role affirmation I’ve ever felt. On July 17th, 2006- I held him and took him in with my heart, head, and eyes  and knew, felt, and grasped- he was mine, I was his, and I would take care of him.

Eli made me a mommy and is still showing me how to make good mom moves and love selflessly. I’m no expert but I do think parents are to love without condition- taking the child given to them as a gift, stewarding their life, studying their person, and seeking to ensure they grow up smart, strong, and secure.  To love without receiving love in return is a Christ-like quality I seek as a mom and find impossibly hard to enact at times.

Last week, I wept with gratitude. I am in awe of who Eli is. I love how amazing and wonderful, smart, intuitive, strong, coordinated, personable, communicative, engaging, fun, funny, playful, passionate, adventurous, brave, friendly, confident, and creative he is. I appreciate his innate sense of wonder and passion to learn as well as his deep desire for speed, the extreme, and excitement!

I wept also for how hard being a mom was just then. Perhaps because we’re the same or maybe because he’s more stubborn and of a greater intelligence than me, we  sometimes disagree.  I wanted so badly for his birthday to be wonderful and all he wanted it to be. I wanted him to appreciate the efforts I was making and lower his expectations of others- it was okay if someone came without a gift. I wanted him to have fun and wanted him to show respect and gratitude.

The dreams I have for my kids are simple:

  • I want them to be secure in how loved they are as a child of God and a kid in our family.
  • I want them to make a difference in the world doing what they feel excited about.
  • I want them to serve and love other people as Jesus does.

I am fully confident Eli will do all of these things despite the days I don’t win a blue ribbon for mom excellence. I believe God’s new mercies every morning and the way we’re living together as a family, will give Eli a foundation from which he can run, jump, read, dream and excel.

“Epic” is Eli’s new word and epic describes who he is, what he can do now and will do as he grows up. These past eight years are undoubtedly some of the best of my life. Eli is a indescribably good gift and I’m honored to have a front row seat in witnessing his wins and walking with him through the lows.

The party was a big win. Everyone came. The tournament was high energy and high volume. Eli’s adults friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles were gracious participants. Eli had an epic time and was indeed grateful, appreciative, and by the end, exhausted!

In bed, my head spun and spun that night- just like the amazing bey blade straight from Japan that Eli got as a present. I was happy and amazed: 8 is half way to driving, 8 is a long way from a 6lb baby and 8 is great!

Doing his 8 birthday burpees in the morning

Doing his 8 birthday burpees in the morning


The boys table

The boys table

When you release a bey blade into the arena, you yell, "Let it rip!"...this is not a cake of death. :)

When you release a bey blade into the arena, you yell, “Let it rip!”…this is not a cake of death. 🙂

Dream pie in addition to bday cake...celebrating with sugar was on Eli's list!

Dream pie in addition to bday cake…celebrating with sugar was on Eli’s list!

Tournament competitors!

Tournament competitors!

photo 2 (24)

The beginning of present opening...

The beginning of present opening…

...the goods draw everyone in.

…the goods draw everyone in.

Yay for Legos, Beyblades, a USA jersey, a ceiling fan, and Apples to Apples Jr. Everything he wanted!

Yay for Legos, Beyblades, a USA jersey, a ceiling fan, and Apples to Apples Jr. Everything he wanted!

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