"So, did you get a lot of It's almost my birthday? questions today?" I asked my wife after I returned late last night from rehearsal, the kids already asleep.
"Are you kidding?" she said. "He asked me what time he was born, so all day long he's been counting down to the exact hour of his birth. It's eight hours until my birthday, he would say."
"And when exactly was he born?" I had to ask, age erasing my memory skills.
"2:30pm?" (again, with the fading memory...).
"That's right," I admitted and the day those many years ago came back to me. He was our last child. Even though we talked about having others, but we both somehow knew he was it--the last of four.
With our first, it was a celebration of "firsts." We were thrilled the first time he rolled over or spoke, or walked (the first never crawled--skipped that entirely...) or laughed with a laugh that melted our hearts. We took a million pictures and fretted over him as much as humanly possible.
And then came the last child and instead of excitement for new advancements and achievements, a pang of sorrow hits as we realize he's the last to use a carseat carrier, or stroller, or the last child to start school or the last to be single digits in age. It's as if the first child made us young and the last child reminds us of our age.
"Hey, bud!" I said to my son as I was about to leave for work this morning. Usually he's asleep when I leave for work, but--like Christmas--the excitement was too much.
"Hi, dad! Look, I'm up with the cat."
"Yes you are. Happy birthday, buddy!" I say and he smiles. And no matter if be he first, middle or last, when a child smiles and emotes genuine happiness, it always melts your heart.