What Surprised Me the Most…

He woke up crying at 4:30 a.m.

No, please no, I begged. It’s simply too early.

I let him  cry for a few minutes, but he stood up in his crib.

“Shhh,” I said into his monitor. “Everything will be OK buddy. Night night.”

He didn’t like that answer. He started screaming and tried to climb out his crib.

I went into his room and laid beside him.

“Turn the sheep sleep on,” he said.

Bossy little fellow, eh?

I turned on his sleep sheep on (the best gift ever, McBride family), and grabbed his hand.

But laying on the floor was uncomfortable and I wanted the warmth of our bed. So he came into the bedroom with me and we snuggled up closely.

“Hi mommy!” he said, smiling.

I could see his bright eyes, wide open.

“Hi baby,” I said. “Go to bed.”

I kissed his little forehead and smiled back.

“HI!” he said again.

He really is the kid version of Buddy the Elf.

Eventually he went to sleep. He stayed cuddle up in my arm-pit for three more hours. Thank goodness.

When my alarm clock went off, I didn’t want to wake him up.

I didn’t want to let go of that moment.

I could see his sweet lips puckered together.

His eyelashes curled high.

His chest taking deep breaths.

My love for him consumed every piece of my soul in that moment.

I didn’t want to let go of him…

Eventually, I moved and that woke him up.

“Are you ready for your first day of school?” I asked.

“YEAH!” he said and tried to jump off the bed.

“WHOA!” I said. “Wait a second and wake up first. You don’t have to rush.”

“Wanna go downstairs,” he said.

We got ready and I was in complete denial of this new chapter.

I had to run the trash out to the curb before we left.

“Sorry babe,” I said when I got back in the car. “I had to run the trash up!”

“NOOOOOO!” Cooper said. “I’m not babe! I’m COOOOOPER!”

Well, that’s true; I laughed at his attitude.

We drove to his new school and I kept asking him questions and tried to pump him up about the day.

To be honest, I think I was doing that for me too.

We got into the parking lot and I could see him get a little nervous.

I pulled him out of the car and asked if he wanted to put on his backpack.

The face he made when I put on his backpack was PRICELESS.

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I’ll never forget that moment.

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It’s WAY too big for him, but I went for 6 different stores searching for a backpack. And this is the best I could get since backpacks aren’t in season right now.

We walked up to the door and he began to get nervous.

“Hi Cooper,” Mrs. Christy said with a giant smile on her face.

Mr. Buddy the Elf himself kept calling her “Christmas Tree” on the way to school. I laughed so hard.

Cooper didn’t say anything.. He walked in confidently, but reached behind for my hand.

I followed him inside and we hung up with backpack and coat.

A few kids came to greet Cooper. One little boy was so eager to play. Cooper walked toward him and then turned back.

“Mommmmmy!” He said and hugged me.

“It’ll be OK, buddy!” I said. “You’re going to have so much fun with your new friends!”

He took a few steps away and soaked everything in.

I made small talk with his teacher, but don’t recall the details. I was too busy praying for a smooth day….for us both.

This is actually want I wanted to tell her:

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But I kept my cool.

He isn’t supposed to take in toys, but Cooper loves matchbox cars and chapstick. I let him sneak in a chapstick, but he pulled it out in front of the teacher.

“Well, what do you have there, Coop?” I asked, already knowing the answer. “He’s a chapstick bandit. I’ll take that and give it to you later buddy.”

Next time keep it in your pocket, kid – I said through my mental message to him.

I eventually slipped out and felt like I was leaving my heart inside.

I waited about an hour before checking in on him.

“He’s at circle time now! He was sad for a little bit, but he’s doing better.”

My heart broke, but I remained positive. He’ll do better. I’ll do better.

As I was leaving the gym, an older woman who volunteered at the gym made small talk with me.

I told her we recently moved here.

“Where did you move from?” she asked.

“Fishers, Indiana,”  I said.

She laughed, “Oh my- culture shock coming here, I’m sure.”

I’ve actually heard a few people say this now.

Culture shock.

I grew up in a small town. Smaller than Richmond, actually.

Small town and simple living isn’t anything new…

So if I’m being completely honest, what has shocked me the most is how much I love it here.

I love how friendly and welcoming everyone is in this city.

I love how small businesses keep the city running.

I love how people say hello everywhere you go.

I love how neighbors and people walking down the street notice you and make eye contact.

I love how the community gives to those in need. Tonight I teared up as I drove past a ministry that was giving dinner to those in need. I saw a man walking toward the building as I drove by. He must have caught me starring at the amazing gesture and crowd, so I smiled. He nodded back at me and he returned a smile. Isn’t it incredible how powerful one smile can be?

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(You saw that coming, didn’t you)?

I love how Cooper’s face lights up when he recognizes familiar streets and people.

When I picked Cooper up, he ran over and gave me the biggest hug. He was happy and so were his teachers.

“He had a great day!” she said. “He’s great with his colors!”

“Oh good,” I said. “He’s been doing so well with them, but I didn’t know if that was normal or not.”

“And he’s so polite,” the other teacher added. “We love good manners around here.”

I smiled proudly.

“His favorite words today were: When’s mommy coming?” she joked. “But he really did have a great day!”

I’ll take it!

From morning snuggles to new beginnings to lots of laugh; today was great.

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When we left Justin’s parents house tonight (we had dinner there), Papaw Rodger gave Cooper kisses and asked, “Who loves you?!”

“PAPAW!” Cooper squeaked back.

“And who else?” he asked.

“EVERYBODY!” Cooper said.

That’s right sweet boy.

Love is all around.

Much love,

Ashley

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