The gift that says, “I’m the big one!”

Dear Lindsey,

I know it’s not much to look at, perched on my office bookshelf among the cluttered books, but just seeing it floods my memory and heart, sufficing the intention of any gift.

My husband, Chris, had taken the boys, age 2 and 5, to the store and handed them $10 each. He told them they could buy anything they wanted for me for my birthday.

Nate, full of personality (and leaving very few of his thoughts to mystery) had those pudgy cheeks the church ladies would squeeze.  Always a competitor, when asked his age, he would answer “5,” (his older brother’s age) with full confidence.

“My! You are such a cute little boy!” a stranger had once told him.

Nate replied, “I’m not little! Except when I look in the mirror, then I’m still little, but I’m not little for real.”  (Although, it sounded more like, “I’m not wittle!”) Ha! Such spunk!

Casey, a sweet spirited pensive type, made the perfect best friend of opposite personality.  I am sure he kept the birthday shopping in line, as he turned down Hot Wheels and guns, aiming for the perfect gift for Mom, not himself.

The package wasn’t wrapped professionally. Evidence of novice hands’ work made it all the more special.  Nothing needed tearing for the present to be opened, since the young deliverers who shared in handing it to me had torn most of it. They stood, or maybe bounced, in anticipation, waiting for my response to their deeply-thought-out purchase.

The torn colored paper revealed the gift: two pigs.

Chris stood in the background, smiling so hard his cheeks might have cracked.  It was truly delightful to see these two boys so excited to give. Casey (5) explained the reasoning for the choice: “They are two brothers, just like Nate and me. We put our money together to buy it!  We thought if you put it in your office, then you would think of us. We knew if we got you candy or something, you might eat it and then it would be gone, but this you can keep FOREVER. It says, ‘I love you,’ because we do!” His reasoning continued, while I basked in the joy of the moment. I gave hugs of gratitude while they both beamed with pride over their selection.

Afterward, I cleaned up the papers and sent them for their PJ’s to start the bedtime routine.  As Casey started toward the stairs, Nate suddenly turned away and ran to my side, cupping his mouth to my ear so Casey wouldn’t hear. (–This is my favorite part!!:)

“I’m the big one!” the 2-year-old whispered, happily pointing to the pigs, which ironically both looked identical. That adorable memory of my “big” 2-yr-old sits on the shelf where the pigs still reside 10 years later.

What makes the gift special?

–      Chris. He thought to take time out of his busy schedule to let toddlers do the shopping.

–      It’s the thought that counts…always; their hearts beamed brighter than the most valuable diamond.

–      The 2-yr-old’s and 5-yr-old’s antics are no longer in my house; I cherish those memories.  No material possession could ever rank over moments that cannot be relived except in our memories. Some things truly are priceless.

Dear young mother: please remember that toddlers are a gift, temporary though they are.  When it seems you can’t get anything done…when you get more boxes to check than checkmarks in the box every day…when you are exhausted with the illness and realize you still have more kids to get it…when you are tired of finding syrup in places you didn’t know it could get to (and you haven’t even had pancakes in weeks!)…stop and find a memory for which to thank God. Blow some bubbles.  Drink in the smile. Pinch the cheeks. They disappear more quickly than the to-do list.

May you find the value behind the gifts you give and receive. I think the remembrance of the giver is “the big one” of them all.

In love,

Terri Brady

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33 thoughts on “The gift that says, “I’m the big one!”

  1. Brings tears to my eyes to think of how quickly these years are already passing by! Thanks for the reminder Terri, to absorb every moment!

  2. Terri,

    I love you. So true. Just having access into your life stories helps me be a better mom, wife, sister, friend, and, in knowing, you are a mom, wife, sister, and most of all, you are human too!! I cherish all of your stories!!

  3. Yes, tears came to my eyes as I’m a young mother that has been struggling with the daily frustrations of life with 2 under the age of 5. I do find myself wishing I could accomplish more, get the laundry done, have a bathroom that stays clean longer than 5 minutes, have beds made each morning, and enjoy a calm, quiet meal together. While these things will hopefully occur in the coming years, I MUST remember to slow down and savor the little golden moments that are there for my pleasure each and every day. Thank you so much for the reminder!!!

  4. Terri,
    That is just so beautiful! And that pig is marvelous!
    I have a paper turtle with a pipe cleaner hanger (and scribbles on it) on the wall of my cube at work, along with a piece of paper (with watercolor scribbles on it), both of which have been done by my grandchildren. They were made and presented to me “Just for Nana for her office!,” I was proudly told, and I hang them just as proudly.
    My coworkers look approvingly at their many photos (and wonder about the equally large number of photos of dreambuilding). But only the ones who are parents look at the turtle and “painting” and know why I smile when I come in my cube and see them.

  5. I love to read your blog ! I hardly ever make it through a whole story without tears in my eyes. You have a wonderful gift Terri, not only are you an amazing leader, but you seem to share Chris’s ability to transfer feeling through the written word.

  6. Nicely done, Terri. I love your stories and you tell them well. This could bring a tear to my eye as I remember all the years of raising my four children. Years of precious gifts, smiles and hugs. But just when I thought those days were bygone, grandchildren started to enter my life! I am so blessed to live near most of my grandkids so I get to live more days of neck choking hugs and sticky kisses. I love it! And the perks of grandparenting….. their folks get all the yucky jobs! I pray that all parents get to be grandparents. It is another chapter in the dash with so much to cherish and be thankful for.
    Thank you for reminding me to be thankful everyday.
    God bless you,

  7. Tears are rolling down my cheeks reading this because I couldn’t agree more…….and that’s the sweetest story ever!! I LOVE my squishy, delicious, messy crazy toddler more than words can say and I KNOW I will miss this stage SO much when it’s gone!! Xoxo

  8. Terri,
    Once more God has used you to touch my heart and Im sure many others at the perfect moment. You have a wonderful gift of perspective and grace. Thank you for living the life God has called you for.
    With Love, Cassie

  9. I am always blessed and challenged when I read your letters. Thank YOU for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your heart with us.

  10. Terri, I posted this on facebook so all of my mom friends who have young children can read it! It’s so easy to forget how precious they really are when you really are finding syrup, among other sticky things, from weeks ago. Thanks again!

  11. That was absolutely beautiful! I love the way you tell stories. My boys are 17 & 15, and though they won’t blow bubbles with me anymore, we still make time for fun stuff – and I still get hugs & kisses good night. Now THAT’S a blessing. 😀

  12. Such a beautiful story Terri! It amazes me how you can reflect on one memory and teach an incredible life lesson from it. I never get tired of reading your posts or listening to your stories. God Bless you!

  13. So true, Terri! Thanks for bringing back memories of those years. While in the midst of them, you wonder if they’ll ever end. Then all of a sudden they’re gone and the child is grown, leaving us moms wondering where those years went.
    Bless you!

  14. Terri,
    You are a complete inspiration to me! Recently getting involved with LIFE, I have enjoyed listening to you and Chris on the CD’s. (hopefully to one day meet you in person) You bring a smile and a light to this world that is so hard to find these days!! Children are so amazing and these little moments tend to come and go with the wind- and its only when we are able to capture these moments for what they really are that we get to understand and live the way we were meant to live. God bless you and your family!!! You are truly an Amazing Person.

  15. Terri,
    This is such a great story. I find items from my grown children all the time. I can’t bare to part with some. Someday they will find all the things I saved to remind me of them growing up.

  16. Thanks for that story. It reminded me of the hand prints in cement that I still have and plates with hand prints. Even after 28, 21 and 8 years of my three children I still adore these gifts.
    You always have great insight about our children.

  17. Those kids sure do grow up fast. My youngest is now 10 and oldest has graduated high school and off to college. I remember when my oldest was born I heard someone say that they grow up so fast so make sure you enjoy every moment. And I have enjoyed every stage of their lives. I pray that all parents would remember what a blessing they have and to cherish all those moments with their kids.

  18. Terri,
    Thank you for always giving me a laugh or tear filled eyes with all the stories you share. It is always a blessing to read what you have spent your treasured time to write.

  19. Terri,

    I loved it. Those pigs are so precious. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. It made my smile a great big smile. After a day of waking up the household, laundry, teaching, meals and running kids to activities, it was a great reminder to take time to remember those special moments our children have blessed us with.

    God Bless,


  20. I see that I am not the first to have teary eyes. My kiddos are 3 and 5 right now….and the 3 year old is also the one who thinks she is “the big one”. Love it!

  21. Terri,
    You have such a gift of encouraging others in having the right perspective! Toddlers surely can keep your hands full but can be so much fun too! I absolutely love “toddler speak”; its just too cute! Yesterday, I was giving all three of my guys haircuts, with my little guy last. When it came to his turn he very boldly said “haircut goes in twash!” that’s what he does with everything he doesn’t like or want to do~he throws it “in the trash!” lol….
    They grow up soooo fast. When my 14yr old stands next to my 3yr old (the eldest looking exactly like the younger as a toddler) I can hardly believe how fast the years have flown by. It feels, literally, like yesterday when my teen was a toddler!
    This was a great message to cherish every moment! Thanks for all you do! Blessings!

  22. Thank you for the reminder that the cherished cheeks disappear faster than the to-do list! And thank you for sharing the picture of the cheeks you had to cherish — how precious! You just want to eat em’! (which I think is understood mostly by Moms 🙂 ) Reading this post (and all your posts) is encouraging — because it seems you do have it together as good as any woman could possibly get (and your “to-do” list has probably contained more checks than most women’s)!

  23. Thanks so much for the reminder! And thank you for allowing me to be a part of those boys lives when they were young. I still have that same picture that you put on your blog:) sweet memories for sure! Thankful I had/have someone as wonderful as you to look up to in the role of being a Godly mother.:)

  24. Oh, this is SO great!! Love this Terri!! I can remember days when I was more worried about clothes than cuddles, dishes instead of dolls and clutter over cars…..clothes, dishes and clutter CAN wait and they will! My kids are growing so fast!!!!

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