We celebrated my godson’s third birthday this past weekend. And we celebrated in style, with the whole Sesame Street gang. It was a day filled with laughter, presents, Elmo, and all the cuteness that comes with a child’s party.
As usual, there were plenty of moments that I tucked away into my heart for safekeeping: Ellie napping on my chest, Jacob’s delight with his giant balloon bouquet, quiet conversation with Jenna over a cup of coffee.
But there was one moment in particular that was so special, I’d like to share it with you today.
As usual, Brian and I arrived hours before the party so we could help Jenna set up. There were decorations to be hung, fruit and veggie trays to prepare, and games to organize. Naturally, all of those things were sprinkled with pauses for the tickle monster, singing songs, and kissing babies.
Jenna’s mom (affectionately known as Gran) arrived shortly after we did to help with “kid wrangling.” She bundled them up, tied their little shoes, and whisked them outside for playtime. The rest of us got busy setting up for the party.
At some point in the morning, Brian and Jenna were busy at work, moving furniture to make way for guests. I took my cup of coffee and joined Gran and the kids in the backyard, where my godchildren were happily swinging in the hammock.
I stood with Gran, admiring their adorableness, commenting on the warm spring day. Suddenly, Jacob decided he wanted to get down. He reached out his arms to us, and together, we hauled him up and out of the hammock. Ellie was retrieved by Gran, and it looked like it might be time to find a new game to keep them occupied.
Just as I was about to head back into the house to make myself useful, Jacob walked over to me, put his arms around my leg and said, “Aunt Abby, I swing with you?”
He looked up at me with those big, beautiful, chocolate-brown eyes. And I simply melted.
“You want me to swing you in the hammock?” I asked.
“NO, swing WITH me, Aunt Abby!” he said enthusiastically, and pointed at the hammock.
I had a brief panicked feeling. Will I be too big for the hammock? Will it break? But I didn’t have time for my insecurities to keep me from enjoying the moment. I followed my godson as he tugged me toward his goal, his feet crunching in the leaves on the ground.
I steadied the hammock, sat back carefully, and helped him climb in beside me. “Are you ready?” I asked.
“Ready!” he said.
And so I lifted my feet, allowing the momentum to swing us forward.
I looked down at the child laying beside me, and my heart swelled at the sight of the smile on his face. He scooted over as close to me as he could get, snuggling up so that his head was on my arm.
We got comfy and enjoyed the gentle swaying of the tree branches overhead. Sunlight warmed our faces, and the birds chirped us a sweet spring lullaby.
I sighed with contentment, and caught Jacob peeking up at me from beneath his cap. “I could do this all day,” I said to him quietly.
“I could do this all day,” he parroted.
And when his hand curled up over my heart, I pushed off with my feet again, and we laughed as the hammock lurched forward, higher than ever before.