I was in our closet the other day quietly getting ready for work when I heard something outside the door making strange noises. I stood still and listened, imagining the dark room outside the closet, with Andrea sleeping soundly in the bed, the girls down the hall fast asleep in their own room. A smooth tranquility, and order to life. The chaos of daytime laying motionless across the floor. Everything sleeping. Everything as it should be. Everything as it has always been. But in this stillness a noise. A brief squawking sound every few seconds. A deliberate honking. A wild thing in the calm moonlight.

I slowly opened the closet door casting a triangle of harsh light across the bed. A little boy was sitting cross legged in the spot I had recently vacated. His onesie pulled tight over his pudgy arms, and his wispy yellow hair curling up wildly at the edges. He blinked his eyes at the sudden light and exploded into a smile. A smile that seemed intent on overpowering the light. He coiled his arms shyly together in his lap and halted his open mouthed grin for a single shivering yawn. His eyes locked on his father. He had been calling for me. In his guttural “uh!” And “ah!”, since he has yet to agree to “Daddy”, he had sensed me in the closet and called out for me, and I had come.

I turned the light off and attempted to lay him back down next to his mother, but he made resisting this into a game. He giggled in spite of my shushing, and popped back up instantly every time I laid him flat. I sighed, staring down at the boy. He looked back at me in the soft darkness and finally raised his arms into the air. I sighed again and picked him up into his familiar place nestled into my right arm. He locked into me like a puzzle piece finding its perfect home and rested his head gently on my shoulder.

The rest of the morning he was with me. He sat on the counter next to the sink and rubbed his fingers on my toothbrush and then sucked toothpaste off his hand while I brushed my teeth. He grabbed at the mirror like finish of the faucet handle in fascination and taught himself how to turn the water on and then looked at me like I was a magician when I turned it off again. I combed my hair. Then I combed his. He closed his eyes and raised his shoulder to his ears and giggled. Then he took the brush in his own hand and swung it over his head trying to match my movements. I held him up to the mirror and kissed his cheek. Our faces next to each other. Mine looking old and ragged compared to his small cherubic glowing curves. But as I held him there it was as if his joy was seeping into me. Like his innocent glow was igniting a glow in me as well. Vitality to vitality. This thing that I had brought life, was now bringing immeasurable life to me instead.

As I left that morning, he was happily playing on the floor with his older sisters, sharing his limitless energy with all of us. I took a picture in my mind as I pulled on my shoes and hung it at my desk that day.

Today is Gideon’s first birthday. It seems like such a small time to be alive, but his impact on our family has already been engulfing.

Happy Birthday little man. I look forward to a million mornings of watching you brush your teeth with your fingers and fumble clumsily with a hairbrush.