Tomorrow you turn 8 years old! And I cannot believe it. Mostly, time is a strange thing to me right now but also, where has it gone? 8 years ago on this very night I was so anxious. I was leaving your 13-month-old sister over night for the very first time ever in order to go to the hospital and deliver you into this world. I was anxious to see you, smell you, and hold you.
You were making me a 'boy mom' and I was so excited.
It's no secret what those first few years with you were like. You started crying and never stopped. Literally for 9 months straight all you did was scream. Though that was exhausting and such a challenge, I'm past it now. I can see the bigger picture and how, even then, you were helping to prepare my heart for years of screaming to come. I know now how the patience I learned by being your mom was so needed in the years to follow. You played a huge role in making me the mom I am, buddy!
On the night before your 8th birthday, I want to tell you all about who you are right now...
You are loving, gentle, kind, genuinely good hearted, caring, compassionate, anxious, frustrated, appreciative, grateful, silly, really funny, and very emotional.
You have several friends but you will befriend anyone. You like attention but you are still figuring out how to be the center of it while not being embarrassed. We are teaching you that when people laugh at you, that is a great trait, not one to be ashamed or upset about. You are full of compassion and full of God. You love everyone that you see with arms and heart open. You are a free spirit in many ways and even now I can relate to the wildness that makes you who you are!
You wake up excited for living every single day. In fact, I don't think that you have ever woken up in a bad mood. You greet me with a smile and far too much energy before my first cup of coffee (as you always have.) You are consistent in your behavior and by that I mean, still unruly and unpredictable.
You are wild, rambunctious, and a non-stop talker.
You are the master builder of Legos and spiller of chocolate milk. You [still] prefer a full bag of chips for a snack and sleep with the same blankie that we brought you home from the hospital with. I still yell your name 1,000 times a day; time after time. You still don't listen.
You are sensitive.
You feel people's emotions and truly see their souls. You have empathy that is far beyond your years and are so mature in that way. You are wise, as well, and say things that often knock the wind out of me. You are a speaker of the truth and prefer to not be around things that make you uncomfortable. At 8 years old, you stand by your own convictions and that is a trait to truly be envied, buddy.
You love to swim. You are finally learning to try new foods. You really enjoy art and using your hands. You enjoy being outside, but are content being in your room too. You talk to yourself (or whoever is listening). You are INCREDIBLY musical. You love animals and are very tender hearted with them. You are a slight rule-breaker and you are ok with that That is also very admirable because you stand by what you do. You act, but you're confident in your choices-right or wrong.
I like that.
(though hopefully you won't read this until you're an adult and I've parented you through the wrong ones first).
You are remorseful, though, and apologize very quickly. You forgive quickly as well which is incredible. In those emotional ways, you make it very easy to teach and parent you. I love that about you!
This year you learned to tie your shoes, started a new school and gained 6 pounds over the summer!
You are the best brother!
Big and little.
You were our only boy for a reason, and I truly believe it's because both sisters needed different parts of you.
This year you loved Mabel so selflessly (as you always did). You knew she was going to Heaven and you were ok with it. In fact, you longed for it for her. You held her in those last days and talked to her with such gentleness. I know she felt safe in your arms. You were a little scared, and that was ok. We walked through that with you and eventually you let love overcome your fear and wanted to be a part of each intimate detail of her death. This was special to me because I watched your heart really lay itself bare. In those moments, I know Jesus was there and I know He filled you up, bud. I have always known you were created for a purpose but I watched you in those days and my heart was overjoyed at the confirmation that God has called you to do really special, intimate, healing things in this world.
You miss your sister with everything you are. You cry almost every day. But you talk about her and laugh about your memories with her just as often. You speak of Heaven every day. Your hope is real and true. You are incredibly brave.
Just yesterday you told me you had your first crush. You love to dance a lot and you make all these crazy noises constantly. You smile and cry all within a minute. You are moody and yet so predictable. You are everything frustrating and exhilarating for my heart, which has always been true of you. That's what makes you you!
I am so thankful for you. Without you, I could never be me. Almost daily, all of the yelling turns to laughing and the tears turn to praying and we both end up turning back to Jesus and loving one another deeper.
My hope for your birthday this and every year is that you would always remain true to exactly who you are right now. I know you'll grow, change, and mature but at the root of who you are is an incredible young man. I pray you'll grow up to be as kind and sweet to everyone you encounter as you are now. I pray that you'll never be afraid of a stranger, but have compassion for them the way you do now. I pray that you'll use your voice and your smile to make the people around you very happy-like you do now. Anyone who is around you for any amount of time leaves you feeling good. You make people feel good, Braden.
You're positive and an encourager and a have-fun kind of boy.
I pray that through it all, that is exactly who you remain!
I love you Braden! Happiest Birthday, buddy!
You're the best boy ever.
Let's shine the light, shall we?