People often point out to me that my youngest son, Ethan, is really good about saying “thank you,” even for mundane things like helping him put his shoes on or when you say “bless you” when he sneezes. I wish I could take credit for it but he has always been that way, and with very little prompting from us.
Here’s the background story: Ethan is our redemption baby because he came home from the hospital a year to the day after I suffered a miscarriage. It felt like God, in His great mercy and grace, gave us our Ethan to somehow ‘make up for’ the baby we lost. The date—May 13th—was at first a very sad day and is now forever a very happy day.
Ethan is a constant reminder of God’s redemption and the way that God can take something heinous and turn it into something glorious.
Just looking at my Ethan makes my heart feel like it’s going to fall out of my chest. From the moment he was born, we have clung to each other.
When a miscarriage rips a baby away from you, there is something deep and satisfying on an almost primal level about holding a flesh-and-bones child in your arms, especially when he’s rock solid, smells like the sky and giggles like a chipmunk when you kiss his ears.
I do not take his presence here with us for granted for one second.
From his first day, I have said, “Thank You, Lord, for this baby.”
In fact, just last week, we were hugging (like we do) and out of the blue Ethan said, “Thank You, Lord, for this mommy!” with a big grin on his face and I about melted into the ground.
I hug and kiss him every chance I get. People must think I’m crazy because I love on him all the time.
When I’m pushing him around in the cart at Target, I lean in and snuggle his neck and kiss his cheeks and we giggle together.
When we’re at the park, I grab him off the end of the slide and just squeeze him against me until he squirms to get away.
When I take him out of the car, I take a moment to just hold him and thank God for him and soak in his presence.
When he asks for a hug or a kiss (which is often), I give it to him every time.
And all the while, I say “thank you:” sometimes out loud and sometimes in my heart.
My husband and I marvel at him because he is so precious and angelic and fills our lives with so much joy. “He’s so alive,” I will point out. “He’s human and he’s perfect and he’s here.” We just can’t get over it.
He is our angel baby, our miracle, our gift from God.
And he has heard “thank you” time and time again for his entire life. The “thank you” of a mother who appreciates every strand of blond hair, every eyelash, every speck of dirt under his fingernails…who appreciates the chance to give him a bath, buy him an ice cream cone, push him on the swing, tuck him into bed and hold his precious little chubby hand as we walk through this Earthly life together…who feels the love of her heavenly Father every time she looks at her baby boy who’s quickly turning into a full-fledged big boy all too fast.
Then it hit me this week when, for the gazillionth time, I hugged my Ethan tight and whispered “thank you.”
He has learned to say “thank you” because he has heard us say it over and over and over again.
We didn’t teach him to say “thank you”—we modeled it to him.
It reminds me of the importance of what words we speak over people, especially the people we love the most. Of all the things for him to have absorbed, I’m glad it was “thank you.”
My Ethan knows what gratitude is all about. He is the embodiment of my “thank you” to God and now he is dispensing it to the people around him.
And I am grateful.