Before you were born, it was just the four of us. Bob was working during the day at Kodak and mom stayed at home to watch Jenny and I. We had a pretty comfortable and simple life.
When mom and Bob told us that we were going to have another sibling, I was almost 10 and Jenny was almost 8. I remember thinking, “What the heck?? How does that even work??” And then a couple years later, “GROSS!!!!” You know, after sex ed.
The day that you were born, I was in Mr. Booden’s 4th grade classroom. Right after he told me that mom was in labor, a classmate told me that she was supposed to have a twin but her twin died. And then I remember being so nervous for mom and for you, just hoping you’d both be okay. But you came out perfectly healthy, after just a couple of hours.
The day after you were born, I think I faked being sick just so I could spend the day in the hospital with you and mom. I even got to eat mom’s hospital pudding!
Things changed after you were born, of course. As expected with another mouth to feed and body to clothe, money grew a little tight. Mom went back to school for nursing, and eventually started working the afternoon/evening shift at a local nursing home to make ends meet, while Bob started working later hours at Kodak in order to get work done.
With Bob and mom both at work all afternoon and evening, someone needed to watch you, and this all meant that Jenny and I took on the responsibility as little pre-teen/teenage mothers to you, and during a pretty critical developmental period in your life.
We were probably 13 and 11 when mom went back to work, and we just had no idea what we were doing with you. We only knew that we were thrown into these roles as little mothers and caretakers, trying to do our best to instill in you good values and keep you alive. There was a great possibility we could have messed you up for life.
Admittedly, there were times when we resented being thrown into these roles that should never be thrown onto pre-teens and teenagers (like all those nights when you were being potty trained and would toddle into my room in the middle of the night just to have an accident in my bed). I’m sure there were times when we wished we didn’t have to care for you so we could go out and do normal teenager things, instead of staying home or bringing you along with us.
But in the end, we couldn’t imagine our family and our lives without you. Somehow, God knew that our family wasn’t complete without the addition of a little boy 8 years later.
I don’t know what happened but when you were little, you were a shy little kid. You definitely weren’t the spaz that you are now. You were timid, quiet, and hesitant in experiencing the world around you. But around people you were comfortable with, you would feel safe enough to let loose, performing crazy dances for us and talking our ears off. And I’m glad this is the Timmy that the world gets to see today, and that you’ve found safety within yourself and in Jesus to live freely out of who you are. Because in the same way that you brought joy and laughter when we were little, you bring joy and laughter to those who are blessed to know you. You freakin’ spaz.
When I left for college (the first time, haha), I remember the saddest part about leaving was the thought of missing out on how much you would grow in the four years I would be gone. And I am so thankful that God allowed/forced me to come back home and go to school closer to you, so I wouldn’t miss out on as much.
Even though you are the typical little brother in so many different ways (i.e. “Your face!,” “Your mom!,” “Your butt!” jokes), you are one of the most dependable people I know, who will come through in the most critical times without a moment’s hesitation and without a complaint. Like the time when I was freaking out over Jenny and Alby’s wedding slideshow after putting it together for the fourth time only for it to fail, you just stepped in and took over without even saying anything, without complaining, without being sarcastic. You came through big time, and you always do.
And though your jokes might be immature sometimes, you are far more mature, with such great wisdom and depth, than I think most people give you credit for. The wisdom and grace you have and your maturity in handling difficult situations and difficult people in your early 20’s is what I could have only hoped for when I was your age. Heck, there are times when I think you are more mature and handle situations better than me NOW!
Some of my favorite memories with you growing up included just talking with you about God and reading the Bible together, even when you weren’t too interested in God. You’ve always had insights far beyond your years and questions that made me stop and actually think, when you were a youngster and moreso now. And I just realized that out of the many people I’ve discipled over the years, you were probably the very first, and completely by trial and error. As clumsy as I may have been in passing spiritual truths down to you, all I know is that I wanted you to have a foundation in God, to be rooted in Him, to have a relationship with Him.
And I am so thankful that you do. I don’t know that it has anything to do with me, but one of the greatest reassurances in my life is knowing that you know Jesus, that you have a firm foundation in Him, and that you deeply desire to live for Him.
You know this, Tim, but I am so afraid of being a mom one day. I have so many fears about screwing up RJ and my kid (On Motherhood), of turning them away from God, of them coming to resent me one day, etc. But my greatest reassurance in having children comes from you, because of the man you have grown up to be, despite our immaturity and skills in raising you. And I know that it will all be okay because of how you turned out.
Timmy, RJ and I are so proud of the man that you have become; a man of integrity, a man of wisdom, a man of humility, a man of God. And I love that we keep growing closer to one another and that we can still have fun together. Like when I sing and you beat box. Or when I sing and you sing an even higher harmony like a girl.
Even despite the hardships of figuring out parenting as a teenager, I can’t imagine our family and our lives without you. And I am so thankful that God began the story of your life 21 years ago.
Happy birthday, Tim! We are blessed by you and we love you!