almost eight

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My first born.

My first son.

My introduction to the wonderful world of boys.

He doesn’t make a lot of blog appearances because he’s older and I want to be sensitive to that. His stories are becoming his to share. I asked him if I could talk about him today, he said, “sure”.

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I grew up with a sister. This little bundle of boy was new and strange for me. I remember holding him and thinking, “he’s a baby..I can do baby boy. At least he is not eight.” I don’t know why I landed on “8″, but I did. Baby boys, toddler boys, little boys and even teenage boys did not scare me. Eight year old boys, however, were a different world. I couldn’t think of a single eight year old boy I had ever known. That was the age I stopped being friends with boys when I was younger. That was the age boys got ‘yucky’ and I had no interest in them for several more years.

So every birthday, I keep thinking “at least he’s not eight”.
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His toddler years were rough. I am sure part had to do with my lack of experience as a mom, but a lot had to do with his personality. Strong willed. Independent. Confident. Determined. I would cry often wondering if I was a terrible mom. I felt like all I did was correct him and discipline. I remember emailing a close friend telling her I was struggling with knowing what to do with him. I needed to break his will, but feared breaking his spirit. I wondered if he’d ever like me and if I’d ever get to do anything with him that didn’t involve a battle of the wills. It felt like those days would never end.
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And yet, those days did end. I am not even sure when it happened, but it was many years ago. He’s still so young…I know. But he is so old too.

He is a thinker. He doesn’t make rash decisions. He’s methodical and confident.
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He’s been saving his money nearly all his life. Every now and then he’ll spend just a bit, but he usually just saves it. Not for any one thing, just to save it. Usually once a week I’ll find him counting it and reorganizing it. It is just something he does. He has had to upgrade to bigger money jars numerous times.

About a week ago, I found him dividing his money into 2 piles. He had emptied his jar completely and was slowly and precisely creating two large piles. I didn’t ask questions, just went on doing my thing. A while later he came to me with two bags full of coins and bills. He labeled the bags “Africa” and “China”. He told me he wanted to send all his money to those countries, but wasn’t sure exactly how he wanted those countries to spend it. His best friend is from Africa. His youngest sibling is in China.

I smiled. We talked about all the options I knew existed.
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The next day we drove to school and I began talking about how I was proud of him, but wanted him to understand that it is okay to have money. He could give some and keep some…he didn’t have to give it ALL away. He had been saving for so long. Working so hard. I wanted him to know he could do whatever he wanted. From the backseat he said, “Mommy, I don’t NEED anything. There are lots of kids that DON’T HAVE anything.”

I focused on driving. Speechless. How do I respond to that? How do I argue with that?

I told him he was right and I would support him in whatever he wanted to do with his money.

When I picked him up from school he had a smile as big as Texas. “I know what I want to do with the Africa money!” he said. He told me about his good friend K and how her mom was getting ready to go back to Africa to bring home K’s big brothers (they are adopting). He said K’s mom had met some boys that lived on the streets and had no families or possessions. She was going to go back and give them a place to take a clean bath, eat a fresh meal and provide them each with a new outfit and shoes. His sentences were fast and excited. He asked how many outfits I thought he could buy with his Africa money. His joy could not be contained.
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In a few short weeks, he will turn the dreaded age of “8″. Only, it isn’t so bad now that I am close to it. Sure it is still an awkward age in many ways. He still pushes the limits with me and our similar personalities often leave us at odds with each other. Sometimes he hits with a light saber too hard and doesn’t share the Legos. He’s not always quick to obey and he is still learning what it means to respect authority. He’s just a typical kid. But, he is a typical kid with an empty money jar and a full heart…who teaches me often more than I teach him.

Being a parent is exhausting. It is hard. I question every day if I am messing my kids up. But every now and then I get a glimpse into the people they are becoming. He’ll be 8 soon. He still has that strong will and strong spirit. And I get to have a front row seat to watch him grow into a man….my heart is full.

And it is looking like I’m not the only girl in this house that thinks he is pretty great…

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  • emmybrown - how exciting! what an incredible boy! and love those treasured pictures of him and Firecracker!!! :)

  • Heather D - Wow what a lovely story to share!!

  • Charlotte - Thanks so much for sharing your side of it,as well. Parenting can be so difficult at times, even if we do everything in our power to “get it right”. Nobody is perfect and that’s probably a good thing. All the best for your lovely family.

  • Liz - “I needed to break his will, but feared breaking his spirit.” I feel the same way with my daughter. Your posts have encouraged me to look at being a mother differently. If anything, you have taught me to be a better mother. Thank you for sharing.

  • tammie - wow! what an amazing boy – you’ve done a great job..
    i have an 8 year old boy, and i have to tell you – they’re pretty awesome!!

  • Allison - what ever you are doing, keep doing it. the world needs more people like your son. thank you, and thank him for sharing that story with us. that made my day.

  • Leslie - I love this so much. Thanks for sharing. What a precious heart he has. Love those pictures.

  • Kristin Taylor - You have been blessed with such a wonderful boy..he seems to be wise beyond his years..you obviously raised him very well!!

  • Sara - Your glimpses into parenthood are so refreshingly real. As much as I admire and respect you, I also admire and respect your children. Thank you for sharing. . .

  • Kelly Rasmussen - such a beautiful post…and amazing little man you have! you’ve raised him well. and those pics with firecracker are precious!

  • Lori K - i am always crying into my hot coffee. thanks, now, i need a refill to warm it up- i love this! what a special, thoughtful guy you have raised. love it. and the pics of sister adorrrring him.

  • keely - beautiful post, and i love those pictures with firecracker!

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Oh my stars Ashley, I am going to have to start reading your blog last!!! Your post are so great, but just make me an emotional ball of mess. I’m sure you know this already, but b/c of your blog name, you are at the top of my Feed List… I think I’m gonna have to switch it up. (Of course, you know I’m just playin, I love them!)

    What a perfect day to read this though. I have one older sister and she has two little girls (9 & 7). All I know is girls. When we found out we were getting a boy, I was stunned. And as a toddler, I am right there were you described. Strong-willed, independent, determined. All the things make up a great man! But trying to teach and train one up is so hard.

    Today, we start a full day of being a big boy and going to the potty. No more diapers. I was thinking about it all day yesterday and prayed as I fell asleep and woke up praying. I know it will be hard. And it’s just one of the many things…

    But I’m so grateful. Each moment and day is such a treasure I am so grateful to have received.

    Thanks for sharing and being so transparent. God bless that little “Almost 8 year old” boy of yours!

  • Sadie - Tearing up here too. He’s a great young man. I know you have done an amazing job raising him and your other kiddos. I love those last photos. Those made my heart swell! Parenting is tough, and I am learning from you even though I don’t “know” you. He has a great heart. I can tell you are proud and you have every right to be!

  • Sadie - Tearing up here too. He’s a great young man. I know you have done an amazing job raising him and your other kiddos. I love those last photos! Those made my heart swell! Parenting is so tough and I am learning from you even though I don’t “know” you. He has a great heart. I can tell you are proud and you have every right to be!

  • Kelli - SO beautiful. Thanks for sharing this and for inspiring moms like me to press on in this exhausting journey of motherhood. The little ones are picking up more than we realize from us and its stories like these that remind me that what I do is important, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Oh, and the brother-sister shots are so precious. :)

  • Rachel T. - He sounds like an incredible child and that somewhere along the way you did quite a few things right. I worry about screwing my children up… so much so that I’m just not sure if I want to have children. I think about being a parent, about the “later in life” normalcy of having children because I’m supposed to, but when I really think about whether or not I want to, I worry about screwing them up… it’s not easy. How did you decide you wanted kids?

  • Aja - What a precious precious boy! You have much be be proud of.. That story brought tears to my eyes. Happy Birthday to him! :)
    Side note- I saw star wars toys at gap kids this weekend and thought of your family!

  • Laura C - Wow. I think he just taught a lot of people what it means to be generous, selfless, and thoughtful. I think that’s what Christ meant when He said we should become like these little ones :) Happy Birthday to your biggest little one!

  • Betsy Jo from Elizabeth St - From the mother of an 8-year-old boy (and girl :))

    8 is absolutely wonderful! Enjoy each moment.

  • Laura - Beautiful!

  • AnnMarie - Ashley thank you for talking about your oldest today. I am in that stage you talked about (the toddler stage) and I too often feel like I’m a horrible mom because I feel like I’m just saying no to my son or telling him to calm down! Boys are so energetic sometimes!!!! It’s so nice to hear that I am not alone.
    So thank-you I really needed to read this today!

    AnnMarie

  • e l l a - So sweet ;)
    I’m secretly scared of 8 year old boys myself – we are making plans for my husband’s 8 year old nephew to come for the summer from Europe. I know things will be amazingly fun and he will be awesome but somehow I’m starting to get very nervous about this visit. So this post comes as good research for me and relaxed me just enough to carry on with the plan ;)
    Happy Soon-to-be 8!!!

  • racheldenbow - I really loved this post. I have struggled so much with my relationship with Sebastian since Brett has been away and mostly because I am less patient and easy going these days. We’ve had some incredibly sweet moments but it’s been a big struggle for us to have enough of a break from the whining and bad attitudes to be in a place to enjoy each other. It felt encouraging to know that even the most well-mothered kids cause their mamas to worry about things I’ve been worrying about lately. I know you’re not super mom but you’re an incredible mom and I admire all the things you’re instilling in your kids at such an impressionable age.

    Thanks for your regular, indirect encouragement to the rest of us in these thoughtful posts!

  • Renae - Tears Ashley…that’s what i’ve got right now. My “baby”, my first born, my boy that I was SURE was going to be a girl will be 8 in May. I hate it. I look at him while he’s sleeping and remember what it was like when I could hold all of him in my arms. One arm actually. He’s the boy that changed my life, the boy that taught me to be a mom…and he teaches me more on a daily basis. How is that possible? I wish I had three more just like him. He’s into sports BIG TIME and I see the fire in him that only boys can have. It makes me think the little boy in him is gone. But every once in a while he wants his mom to cuddle with him, to sit on my lap, to be quiet with me…I gladly (gratefully) oblige.

  • Jessica Anderson - I’m in the same boat!! My oldest, my boy, my son and my moon and my stars, will be eight in March. It is almost to hard to type. How did that happen? I also grew up with only one sister and when I had a boy at 21, I did not know what I was going to do with a boy. He has taught me so much, and I am greatful for him every day!! Happy Birthday to your sweet boy! And that pic of him and his little sis melts my heart. Please tell me you would love to vacation on a little island in Lake Michigan and ank my kiddos photos ;)

  • tina - oh. my…wow.

  • Kristi - Girl be so proud of yourself! Remember that your children are a reflection of you!!! That scares me in so many ways but you and Chris shoudl be so proud!! You guys are amazing parents and you always make it look so easy! You are one amazing Mom with so much talent and an obvious LOVE for Christ!!! What an inspiring story!

  • Annabelle - Wow. I just cried reading this post. My desk is all wet. He’s such a wonderful boy who puts me to shame. He’ll grow up to be a fine, young man. I love the top two photos of little sister looking at him. Precious.

    And you just made me miss my lil’ sis and lil’ bro more. :’)

  • Lacey - That is pretty amazing. I’m assuming you’re doing a pretty great job with your kids if they make decisions like that. :)

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Aww man! My girl turns eight this month! How does this happen? How do they keep growing, but it feels like yesterday that they were born?
    This post is such a wonderful tribute to a wonderful boy. That part with the money- made me tear up. What a wonderful little man you guys are raising. He really reminds me of my daughter…wait a second! Do you guys believe in arranged marriages?!?!

  • Tammy - the precious stare of genuine adoration in her big brother. such a lovely photo. i have a big brother (i am adopted into an american family) and i can see he is going to be an amazing big brother to his new little sister. thanks for sharing this heartfelt moment!

  • Kelly - Eight year old boys are fun! Yours sounds pretty great! Thanks for sharing his story!

    I grew up in a house of girls and have ended up raising a house of boys. I love it, even if some days I feel like I’m living in a foreign land! I’m so thankful the Lord trusted me to help raise them into godly men.

  • Lisa - I had a lump in my throat while reading this post…what an amazing boy you are raising. Do not question your parenting skills. If this little boy is willing to give up ALL of his money to give to little boys and girls who have nothing, then you are definitely doing something right. My husband and I talk to our son, who is 6, about children who are less fortunate. He prays for them, without prompting, every night. I can only hope that one day he comes to me as yours did to you and asks to give money to those children we are praying for. Thank you for sharing this incredible story (and these equally incredible photos:)!

  • steph - what a sweet dear boy you have on your hands!
    he, funnily, reminds me so much of my oldest child.
    however, my oldest is a girl!
    but honestly… she’s turning 8 in just a few short weeks too.
    on jan. 25th.
    i can see so many similarities between the two, from what i read about him.
    it’s hard being the oldest.
    man, we expect so much from them, hey?
    i feel bad for them… they hold such a weight of responsibility.
    but they also do so good with it.
    so i can’t get angry when my girl acts out either.
    she’s still a kid even though i always think of her as older b/c she’s the oldest.
    anyhow, thanks for sharing.
    i hope he has a fantastic birthday… turning 8!!!
    8!
    oy!
    i can’t believe i’m soon gonna have an 8 year old too!!!!
    ack!!!

  • Kat - Kids grow up so quickly that it makes me wonder if time always flew by like this

  • Bella - Beautiful story! Your son is an amazing individual with such a big heart. You did an awesome job with him, keep up the good work! :)

  • Monique - Wow. Thank you for sharing.

  • amanda torres - I loved everything about this. However, numerous times I have said give me an eight or nine year old and I’ll know exactly what to do, but a toddler…YIKES! Well, I think I’ve finally gotten the toddler thing down and now I’ve forgotten all my ‘skills’ with the older ones. Maybe I should go back to teaching for refresher course.

  • nicole - This was so beautiful I cried. Thank you for sharing this. I love the look of delight on your daughter’s face! I always wanted a big brother! Looks like she has a great one!

  • kiley - Glimpses of the man he will become…shaping a heart for GOD’S glory!!! I blogged a few pictures of my oldest(son)and youngest(daughter)a few days ago with some similar but unwritten thoughts of how he is growing into such a fine young man at 9 yrs old. And, I’m always amazed that God still uses me despite my flawed and imperfect self…

    http://www.alwayscomehome.blogspot.com/2012/01/dats-my-lijey.html

  • Allison - from an every day reader this is an absolute favorite post. What a precious little man you are raising. I love this story of his money and how it shows that you and your husband are raising him right.

  • Amy - Those last few pictures are too full of… well, everything! Though I’m pretty sure that if anybody could die of cuteness overload I’d have done it earlier from your blog. Thanks so much for sharing this… and for sharing how you wonder if you’re messing your kids up. Your son’s generosity and your candidness are the perfect encouragement and reminder to me of God’s grace this morning. :)

  • she loves life - How lovely and what a great testiment to how you are raising that little guy! Thank you for sharing this with us~

  • Abigail - Your son is pretty dang cool :-)

  • Kristin S - I don’t even have kids and that made me all teary. Thanks for taking the time to document “the little things”. They’ll be what matters later on…

  • rachael - *sniff* *sniff*
    Post made me cry. You have an amazing son. I hope mine is as giving and sensitive. Well done, mama.

  • Jenny B. - Oh, that is just terrific! You are such a great mom, and you inspire me to be more intentional with (and more accepting of) my boys. I was good until the pictures of him and Firecracker at the end… sniff! :)

  • Debbie - That boy is such a blessing to you (and us)! If I can raise my daughter to be as giving and loving I will be a proud mom.

  • Rachel C. - I can’t think of anything better….

    As a mom in the throws of the baby/toddler years, this story was such an encouragement to me today.

    Awesome story. Awesome young man.

  • Lucky Number13 - oh my. i have always had that same dreadful feeling about 8…what’s up with that? my boy will be 8 in october and this post makes me feel a little bit better about it. the watching them grow up and letting go is just hard. just plain hard. this parenting thing is tough but i think you are doing a great job and your sweet boy’s actions are proof in that, ashley. thanks for sharing!

  • Pix - My heart is melting! What a sweetie and he is wise beyond his years. I have a feeling that 8 is going to work out just fine!

    Cheese Curds and Kimchi

  • laurie - what a sweet boy. made me tear up.

  • Natalie - I’m crying too! Mainly because yesterday I had a strong-will-showdown with my eldest (3 y/o) and am wondering if I’m getting through to her. I wouldn’t want my kids any other way than strong, confident, determined, but when they’re almost 1, almost 2, and 3, I gotta admit I find myself wishing they were 8!

  • maggie - i am crying, what a wonderful post! i was terrified of boys too. i am a girllie girl who likes to do girlie things. God knew it and he gave me two, they are 8 and 6…i too fear i am being too harsh, to rigid with them. i wonder if i am breaking their spirit. i want them to be men of God. sometimes being a mom is so scary…thanks for your open heart in sharing this post with us.

  • Lisa P - Brought me to tears. Such a sweet, and honest, portrayal of your little big boy.

  • Madeline - This made me smile :) Thank you for sharing your beautiful and incredible family with us.

  • amy jupin - wow. this is some big stuff.
    gives me chills to think of how he has such a giving heart.
    you are doing a great job, ashley.
    and eight isn’t so bad.
    just wait until 9.
    :)

  • tara pollard pakosta - wow, that’s just pretty darn AMAZING!
    8 is big when you have all those younger ones, 8 just seems so grown up! but my oldest just turned 12 and that’s sooooo BIG!
    he has a great heart! pretty amazing!
    tara

  • Amanda C. - I sat here and cried while reading this! I hope that one day, I can be just half the mom that you are. Thanks for sharing your life and giving people someone to look up to and respect.

  • Lisa J - My heart is bursting – a tear in my eye. What a beautiful post to start the week. How proud you must be :-)

  • Sue Symens - You are an amazing mom!

  • Danielle - Oh what a sweet boy! This post made me cry, what a huge heart he has!! <3

  • paige - Wow. That was good stuff, especially to a Mom who is in the thick of raising that strong-minded, opinionated as heck, TOUGH “toddler” (4), wondering every single day how I will make it through. ha! Now with an 8 month old boy in the mix, I’m seriously worried about this BOY STUFF! I grew up with 2 older brothers who wrestled the tar out of me, so I know (and love!) how boys are. But i’d SO appreciate hearing your “rules” on the sword fighting, pretend gun fighting, all around rough BOY stuff. You’re so great about it b/c you don’t try to take the “boy” out of them, and I love that. If a kid pretends their fingers are guns nowadays, the mothers at the playground all whisper about their mother. Ugh. So, any tips on what you all say about it to them would be so wonderful!! Love your blog so much. :)

  • Courtney Henson - What a sweet boy! How proud you must be! My oldest is an almost eight year old boy too and sometimes I am startled by glimpses of very grown up seeming, compassionate behavior! They are very obviously still small but also getting so big and mature at the same time. I love this age! You are definitely modeling beautiful lives at home…love this!

  • Melissa - Precious post! I love how he’s decided to use his savings….such a thoughtful “almost”8-year old :)

  • Moriah - Thank you for this post. I am a mom to two boys and have the same feeling. Struggling with a lot of the “boy” energy that seems so foreign to me. Inspiring post! Thank you

  • Alice - Oh boy ! Your little boy is so sweet !!! I don’t have kids yet, but this is exactly what i love about kid, their genuine kindness. And they may be little they understand things perfectly.
    From this story, you can tell that your boy is gowing to grow into a great man !
    Thanks for sharing this story with us. Give a hug to this big boy !

  • mamabirdy - My older son, 2nd born, turned 8 in November. I had the same struggles with how to help him realize his full potential without breaking his spirit. There were days he made me so angry I needed a timeout before dealing with it. Someone had suggested reading the spirited child book, but there were only parts that fit. He is smart, his sensory system is sensitive. He’s critical and specific, I would say, “don’t you like snow, it’s like a toy that falls from the sky” and he would say “actually it falls from the clouds”. When he was 3. He is tough as nails on the outside and like a marshmallow on the inside. We were too alike in the wrong ways and often at odds.

    Last night he dug through our church bag and asked me if I could laminate the Our Father and the 10 Commandments he got at Sunday School so he could study them without getting food or drink on them. I thought, when the change? He asked me recently if every day he could help me clean the attic, he said, I don’t need any allowance for it, but maybe if we find some small cool think I could keep it. He is always helping now and I rely on him. He adores his baby sister. Yes, he still does hit harder sometimes than he realizes. Yes, he still lies about whether or not he washed his hands or various other small things. Still, I found myself thinking, this one is going on a good track, I can take a deep breath and move on to worrying about his brother, ha!

    Maybe 8 is really a magic age. I’m hoping the magic lasts a long time….

  • Becky - so sweet! Love this post!

  • Sarah - I have a two year old little boy with a very strong will and am in the thick of trying to break his will without breaking his spirit. Any pointers? Thanks for giving me hope that things can get easier!

  • Michelle - I am so glad to hear these words, my oldest boy who will be 10 in a few weeks, is the one who always has made me feel like I must be failing:) Your story gives me encouragement:) Thank you!

  • Ingrid - love the pics and the post – what a gorgeous boy he is!

  • Sarah M. - Your boy made me cry. So kind and generous. You’re doing a lot of things right.

  • my lovely mess - you write so lovely…very touching.. Happy Birthday!

  • Darcy - So incredibly touching. Like many others, it brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I can only imagine how scary parenting can be at times. From my perspective, the world could use a lot more families like yours. Beyond the wonderful photography and cute crafts, I hope you know what a ministry your blog is. Thank you for sharing real life.

  • Lauren - Oh Ashley! This post was awesome. I can’t tell you how there are days I cry and worry… the hard days with my first born boy who is 19 months old. Am I disciplining him enough? Am I disciplining him to much? Shouldn’t he listen or obey better by now? Will his little heart love Jesus and stay pure and sweet? Am I messing him up!?!

    Good to know that other mom’s struggle with the same thoughts & battles. Some how even in our own imperfectness God helps us do wonders with the treasure(s) we are given.

  • Mary - Ashley, that is one amazing boy you have! What an generous heart…a fine example that you surely are NOT messing your kids up. Thanks for sharing his story and your struggles with us. Your relationship with him resonates with me…I have a very similar relationship with my oldest son. I pray every day that I am doing right by him and not messing him up either.

  • Julie - I too have an almost eight year old, and I feel like I am constantly failing. Wondering how she is going to afford all the therapy that she will eventually need.
    But when you see their hearts, their minds, their wanting to be more, give more, do more, maybe we aren’t doing such a bad job after all.

    God fills in the gaps where we fall short.

    Happy almost eight.

  • amber - I want all my almost eight year olds to be like that. I was just talking to my 4 year old about generous hearts. And, oh, how I long for my children to grasp all that God has for them. Looks like you have something pretty special growing in your house & that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing…especially with us mom’s who still battle young wills & wonder what it’s all going to be for. This was good.

  • Beth - I am a mother of an seventeen month old baby boy (my first) The tears fell this morning as I dealt with much of what you described. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing and lifing my spirits. Keep it up please.

  • Rhonda M. - Awww. This made me tear up. I think you have a lot to do with fostering that heart of giving in your children. You do that for us. You’re doing a great job raising your kids that way too. And the photos of big brother and little sister are so beautiful. Her smiles at him are just precious.

  • jessica manier - Your boy has the heart most men do not. He is a breath of fresh air.

  • Lynnette - thank you. My son is turning five soon and many of your descriptions fit his personality and our relationship. Reading about your son and how you feel parenting him is a whisper of hope. These words you shared today are treasures for many moms, so thank you.

  • Agnieszka - Your son is beautiful inside and out! And the adoration in his sister’s eyes made me tear up.

  • Andrea - You are blessed.

  • Julie - My oldest will be 8 this year too. It is hard to believe. Where did the time go?

    I have three boys and I laugh about it now because I never thought I would be a boy mom. Boys always scared me for the most part…but God had other plans.

  • Vanessa@DesignsbySessa - I just read through the last 5 posts and almost cried like 4 different times. I love seeing the Holy Spirit working in your lives in the “mundane” in the small moments! Praise Jesus for you!

  • Laura Chavous - Well….seems like you are doing a great job with your children Ashley! Your son’s heart to bless others is the proof. He will be a very wealthy man one day because he has learned to give. :)

  • Jeannette - You are awesome and so are your sweet children!

  • Megan - Ashley-I just sat in my bed reading your blog and wept. What a beautiful, giving heart your boy has. What a good job you have done raising him. You are so blessed, and you know it! :) I needed this so much today. His generosity is so inspiring. I’ve been to Africa and held the hands of children who eat one meal a day if they are lucky. And then I come home and get caught up in America and wants and selfishness. Here your almost 8 year old is with the right mindset and a truly generous heart. Thank you so much for sharing this! It made my heart so full :)

  • Maggie McKenney - beautifully put Ashley~. xo

  • Laura - Thank you so much for sharing about your sweet boy today. He seems so much like my own oldest boy (5), and I often have the same worries and fears that you expressed. I was so encouraged to hear you talk about him coming out of that stage… gives me hope that we are almost there! I’m so glad that I have found your blog – I love reading it and learning from you!

  • Brooke - What a beautiful post. I have a tear in my eye. You’ve raised such a lovely little man. I often think my biggest fear when I consider the idea of having kids is that I’ll mess them up. I wonder how my parents did it? I am amazed that my mom and I are friends, we are often at odds… His excitement at the idea of helping others speaks volumes to the amazing job you’re doing! If you didn’t worry you wouldn’t be a mom, but you do and clearly it’s paying off :)

  • Summer C. - And now the tears are flowing. You wrote what is on my heart. I struggle with my oldest right now, he is 4. We are so much like each other yet so different. I often feel like such a bad mom and he must hate me but he does show so much love when he is ready.

    I have been trying to teach and show him how to pay-it-forward. I love that your son has been watching and learning from you. :)

  • Kassie - Wow is all I can say. I have known MANY 8 year old boys in my life (worked at a daycare for 5 years) and I don’t believe I’ve known any with a heart like your son’s, or even a perspective on the world like his. You are an amazing mother who is teaching her children the value of life, not possessions. I’m not a mother myself (just got married! <3) but I hope that I can show my kids the world as it is, and do so in an effective way, so that they too may help make the world a better place. Keep up the good work. Love this blog!

  • Nicole - This is a sweet, kind and honest tribute to your oldest son. I’m sure he will look back on it as an adult and appreciate your words. I’m sure he will also thank you for letting him share his own stories as he gets older. Thank you for sharing with us readers!

  • Veronica - I love this… so so so sweet. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristen - Such a heartwarming, sweet post of your baby with a huge, huge heart. You must be so proud! And those last pics of his sister hugging him? Amazing captures!

  • Michelle - I love it. This post totally gave me “a frog in the throat” . Your lil’ man there is growing into a fine young man.

  • Jenny L. - I think all your kids are completely adorable, but the oldest has always been my favorite. And, I can’t help but think, when he is older the girls are really going to like him. You have done a truly good job with him.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh, you have me in tears! i just love my 8 year old boy and I love your 8 year old boy’s heart so very much!

  • Jessica Hekman - I read your blog all the time but have never commented. You constantly bless my socks off… Your mothering, crafting, photography, adopting… I think if we lived in the same town we’d just have to be friends. I always get teary eyed reading your blog. Thanks for your fun balance of fun stuff and heart stuff, it’s perfect. Thanks for being such a bright spot on my blog reader every night ;-)

  • Holly - Oh this made me cry! Thank you for sharing and reminding of us of God’s heart for this world!

  • Jamie - Oh what a sweet sweet heart your boys has! I can only hope that in a couple years when my boy is almost 8 he has as sweet a heart as your boy. I think it must be first born strong willed boys…mine is so similar in manner…more then a few times I have doubted myself, my abilities and my mothering…then he does something brave, selfless, sweet, loving…and I say to myself “nice job momma.”
    Nice job momma!

  • Elizabeth Jung - SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CUTE
    You makes me cry.
    Love you all~

  • amber P - what an amazing young man you have! parenting is sooo hard – the hardest job in the world. you are definitely doing something right! :)

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - your kids are amazing. That’s wonderful how selfless he’s becoming. I can’t even fathom my little guys being 8 any time soon. In a couple weeks my oldest will be 5 and my little one is 3.

  • Jenni - I was so busy yesterday that I saved reading this as my prize for getting everything done. Then I was so tired when everything was done I decided to save it to read over coffee today. Um… so worth it!:) Hands down the best way to start the day!!:)

  • Kelly - Yea Eight! I don’t even know him and I am so proud of him! What an amazing lesson. This will have me thinking. I’m glad he said “sure” to you talking about him today because it is a blessing and challenge and encouragement to so many of us I believe. It sounds like you’re doing great, mama! After reading this post and getting up to pour my 20 month sons third bowl of cereal I told God, “I want to raise kids like that.” and I felt like I got the answer, “you are”. We are too tough on ourselves as mamas so much of the time and we need to keep praying and keep trusting that with His help we are raising wonderful God-fearing young men and women. Kelly

  • Nicole - lovely post. pretty much sums up every day of my life for the past five and a half years!

  • melyssa - thank you for talking about the “not perfect” aspects of mamahood… i have 2 boys which is totally crazy & new for me too. it’s nice too hear that i’m not the only one struggling with it:) also a money jar… why did i not think of that? so simple & yet i have been struggling to find a piggy bank that i can live w/ in the boys rooms not even thinking of the concept of a jar!! it’s the little things:)… but that was an ah-ha moment for me!!

  • Candy Foster - Thanks for bringing tears to my eyes and hope to my heart. I have a daughter who is very much like me (which causes us to clash more than my son and I do). She is also strong-willed, and very independent. I have felt the same way that you wrote about . . . . like it is a constant fight some days. I’ve also struggled with how to discipline her without breaking her strong spirit that I admire. But most of all I just love her like crazy and want to be the best Mommy for her! You’re post hit home :)

  • Katie - I know so many people say “I needed to hear this today,” but man, I really needed to hear this today. During a week when my husband is gone on business and I’m home parenting my two boys, I really needed to hear this. This is exactly how I feel about my oldest son…sometimes I wonder if he’ll ever like me, ever be excited to see me. I hope he will someday, and if not, thats ok too. I’m loving him as hard as I possibly can and thats all that matters right now. I wonder how my 6 month old will be different…or the same. I can’t even imagine 8. But every year does get better, so there’s hope for us yet. Thanks for writing honestly.

  • charla - Love this post, my oldest is 71/2 sometimes we don’t See eye to eye,I think it makes the break throughs even more exciting!!! I love your heart for your family! Love his heart too!

  • Nicki - I just love this post. I am my mother’s first child and she often tells me how hard it was raising me since I was her first. I was the tester, the outspoken one, the only girl. Now I am 20 and in college. She just called me yesterday to tell me how proud she is of me. She is great, and you are too. I love the pictures of Firecracker with the oldest. Too cute.

  • Honey Bee Mama - oh ashley, darn you!! you didn’t tell me in the first couple of sentences of this blog what it was about – i thought we were just reminiscing about our oldest babies when they were young and how we don’t know what to do with our oldest boys. and now i’m SOBBING. my five year old has been blowing me away lately with his little giving heart, and has used all of his allowance and christmas money recently to spend on others. he and your little man (or big man) are reminding ME that it’s better to give than to receive, and that in this new year as we reorganize our finances and buckle down on saving and spending right, that giving MUST be incorporated. it truly is better to give than receive. amen!

  • rachael - Hi Ashley,
    This was such a wonderful post – my first born is so similar in personality, I got the biggest shock of my life becoming a parent with him! I didn’t know what to do with boys any age…but now I have 2 and couldn’t imagine having girls! :)
    What a beautiful story of your sons desire to give his money away, it is one of the sweetest things to witness in life, your own child, showing you a beautiful, generous heart. If this is what he is doing at almost 8, what an amazing young man he will grow up to be!

  • Cordell Clibon - I simply want to tell you that I am very new to blogs and certainly savored this blog. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You absolutely come with great posts. Bless you for sharing your blog site.

  • Jessica P - Great post! What an amazing guy you’ve got there! And thanks for your reflections on motherhood. It’s comforting to know that even a Super Mom sometimes questions herself. Your kiddos are so lucky to have you.

  • giozi - Congratulations. Ohhh they growing so fast.
    My little boy this year is going to star the school snif snif.
    Your boy is growing handsome. Love the photoso where they are together, your princess is so cute.
    My birthday’s brother was yesterday :)

  • Katie - This post brought a tear to my eye. So wonderfully written. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jenna - Oh, Ashley, thanks for sharing this. I’m so touched by your son’s generous heart. He sounds so much like my firstborn {he’s 5} and I often wonder “will there ever be a day when we don’t butt heads all day long? That I don’t have to constantly discipline and correct?” Thanks for the glimmer of hope. :)

  • Jessica R - Oh Ashley, how wonderful is that boy. My first (a girl) is only a few months old, but I would love for her to become the caring, giving person that your boy is. How did you do it? Can you please do a post on specific things you did/said/read to them to encourage generosity of spirit? I would love some guidance from you as I start this journey!

  • brandie - I am sitting here bawling now!! What you said about his toddler years really struck me…I could have written that about my 3 year old son. My first born. My strong willed, independent, confident boy. I know these years will pass by, but the questions about wheather I am doing my job right will stay with me. To hear how your little boy is turning into such a caring and giving little man, my heart is touched – thank you for sharing his story!

  • Heldine - Awww… what an awesome post. Sounds like a great mom to me. :) And such cute pictures.

  • Charlotte Glaze - You have such a wonderful way of telling your stories in your posts. I’m not even a mom yet, but the way you talk about raising your children is so moving. I swear I was crying as I read this post.
    Just to tell you – keep on sharing. I love reading your posts.

  • Nenita - Oh My Goodness. Everything is amazing! I wish I could have them all

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