Dear Braxton (or as you tell people your name is: “B-Boy”),
This morning I got up early to pee and was hoping to sneak back into bed for a few more minutes of drifty sleep. I heard stirring from your room and as I was tip-toeing past, your door opened. You stood in the doorway with the brightest smile on your face. Usually you bound into our room all together too early and are kindly (usually) directed back to your room to read or play. You didn’t expect to see me up before you. (As you probably know, I am hardly a morning person). I could see in your face though that you were genuinely delighted that it was me and without any spoken words I felt more flattered than I had in a long time. I scooped you up and asked you if you wanted me to get you books or if you would rather play with your toys as I tried to come to grips with the fact that my day was starting. You put your cheek right up to mine, as we so often do. You had a little pout and I could tell neither of those options would suffice. I said “do you want to come cuddle with me?” You nodded and said “All I want is to cuddle wid you.” I will never turn down an opportunity to cuddle, but I wondered how long it would take for your morning energy to kick in. I expected these “cuddles” to last about 20 seconds…but I was going to savor those 20 seconds!
I brought you into our bed and tucked us both under the covers and there we cuddled cheek to cheek, for almost a half hour. You played with my bracelet, stroked my arm and whispered “I have something to tell you. I wuv you, Mama. I am glad you’re my girl.”
Oh, B. You have such a way of getting to my heart. You are one of God’s greatest and most timely gifts to me. People often say the best gifts are something you would never buy yourself. As I have told you in other letters, I had a hard time adjusting to the idea of having a boy. Much of your first year of life I struggled to bond with you as I battled post-partum depression. I may not have chosen you as the gift to give myself (Really, I didn’t with any of you three since God picked some unanticipated timing for both your sisters!), but God chose you and gave you to me with great purpose.
Your purpose and place in our family is cemented. You have left your mark on each of us. You play your role of brother well: the loud and crazy hooligan, The Great Antagonizer, The Protector, The Cheerleader, The Comforter (even when it is you inflicting the pain ;) ). You really and truly are an amazing big brother and little brother. We went to watch Hayleigh at her preschool Olympics yesterday. I had to wake you up very early from your nap to get there in time. I came armed with a purse full of animal cracker expecting the worst. You sat next to me the whole time, genuinely invested in what was going on, genuinely happy for your sister. Unsolicited you began cheering for her :“Go Hayleigh, go!”. It was over 45 minutes long and you never got jealous or antsy or upset that you had to sit crammed into her stiflingly hot classroom with a bazillion other people watching kids not much older than you playing games and getting prizes. You even turned to Roycie and tried to get her to cheer for Hayleigh (which she did by clapping every time anyone else clapped or cheered-pretty freakin cute). Anyway, it was so heart-warming to me to see you cheering on your sister. I have always wanted you kids to be each other’s big supporters, to really celebrate each other’s victories and empathize in each other’s burdens and struggles. You seem to do this so naturally. It’s beautiful.
You also elicit such emotion from me. I joke (kinda) that I either want to just squeeze you because you are the cutest and sweetest thing ever, or I want to punt you across the room because you can be so difficult. Hey, just telling it like it is. I have never actually punted any people before and I don’t plan on starting with you. You make me laugh…all the time. You have this obsession with your bink…I mean really it is more like an addiction. You are only allowed to have it when you are sleeping. We are breaking you of it when we finally get you a big-boy bed. But you “sneak” that thing in the most ridiculous and creative ways. Your sneakiness is sometimes cause for concern and when I am not laughing at it, I do try to point out the whole dishonesty aspect. But to be honest myself, first I have just spent a lot of time laughing and shaking my head…and sometimes taking pictures. Some examples of you stealthily hiding your bink include, putting a box over your head and walking around the house (surprisingly with that one you didn’t run into walls much more often than you do sans box), wearing a winter hat over your mouth, chin and nose, hiding just your head under our couch (you got pretty stuck and haven’t attempted that one since), covering just your eyes and coming to talk to me when I am on the toilet (this was an early attempt when you made the Rookie mistake of only covering YOUR eyes. You quickly learned and adapted.), building a blanket fort for yourself and your bink where “no mommies are allowed”, “just going upstairs to get something, by myself”, and finally, putting one of Daddy’s shoes over your face and walking around that way (that was probably punishment enough because you have since told me that Daddy’s shoes smell pretty yucky and you think he stepped in dog poop inside his shoe). This bink obsession taught you how to climb into your crib before you learned how to climb out of it and has resulted in us hiding the bink in a variety of “gwown up pots” (grown up spots) during the day-all of which you have figured out. Now you take it upon yourself to hide it in a gwown up pot which often means come bed time no one can find it and Daddy and I are frantically searching the whole house for the God-forsaken bink. (At this point anyone reading this letter who either a.) has no children or b.) is a super-parent is probably judging us. That’s fine.) Someday, and lots of days now, we laugh at what I affectionatly call “The Bink Sagas”. I figure someday we will look back and miss the days when we were moving furniture long after bedtime looking for a bink, only to find it covered in dust bunnies. And we will cringe as we chuckle at how you had this kinda weird, gross habit of wiping it underneath your neck and in your eyes before popping it in your mouth. You won’t have a bink forever. Someday you will be grown up and reading this and there will be other things, and we will laugh at the bink. And I could get real philosphical and say we all have our own adult comfort objects or habits anyway. I even wrote a poem about that for a creative writing class when I was pregnant with Hayleigh. But maybe that’s another post.
Anyway, you make me laugh. And scream. And laugh again. The other day I overheard you saying to your tiger head on a stick thingy from the zoo, “I will have to (s)pank you. You need to wisten and obey and say ‘yes, daddy’ to me”. And then you did. You turned that tiger head on a stick thingy from the zoo over and (s)panked it on the bottom of its head. I think the tiger learned it’s lesson. Or maybe even better was the conversation I overheard you having with your tummy that went something like this: (after you had asked for another piece of pizza for the up-teenth time, even resorting to telling me your tummy “ said it reeeaaaaalllllyy wants anuder piece of macaroni (pepperoni) pizza”.) “tummy, I know you ah hungry,but you already had half a pizza. we need to obey my mommy. You can't have any moh pizza. Listen and obey. You can have some fruit. Is dat al-wight?” I die.
Your favorite character right now is Curious George because you say he is like you and “vewy cuwious” to which Hayleigh says “Yeah! And always getting into trouble!” Thanks, Hayleigh. You love to read his books, watch his show and also have confiscated Hayleigh’s Curious George stuffed animal to sleep with. You also like to play Doctor, which for some reason with you two always turns into restaurant as well. The other day I visited a new doctor (you) and you told me I could kiss you whenever I want but not so the nurses see, and that I needed a shot and then changed your mind and said I can have a cupcake instead! You also said that even though my eyes are hurt a lot they are still beautiful. I kind of like you a lot more than any doctor I have ever seen! No, but really, you always find a way to burrow yourself deeper and deeper into my heart. I love you in a way that I have loved no one else before. I am thankful beyond words that God chose ME to be YOUR Mommy. I tell you that often, but it does not make it less true. I am blown away by the fact that God entrusted someone so wonderful to me and gave me the pleasure and the privilege of even knowing you, let alone getting to raise and love you. You are incredible little (big) person (ality), Braxton. God made you with incredible purpose.
Your purpose goes beyond reaching my Mommy heart. It goes beyond growing me and stretching me and challenging me one moment and melting me into a puddle the next. I do not know exactly what God’s specific purpose is for your life yet, but I can promise that He has a plan for you. I know the world is already a better place because you are here. I am certain that other people’s worlds will continue to be impacted, challenged and warmed as they meet you. God made you with a wonderful gift to sense what makes people tick. I can already see that in you at 2 1/2. I pray that you use that gift to minister to the sometimes unspoken needs of others. You genuinely feel and love deeply. This is one of my favorite things about how God made you. I long to see you be a man who loves others with the sacrificial, heart penetrating love of Christ. So many times in your short life God has used you to communicate His Truth to me. Without you even knowing it, you have been a vessel of God. He created you with that heart, with the ability to communicate God’s love to others. I am honestly so excited to see how God will use your deep emotions, strong will, sensitivity, intuition, sweet and affectionate heart, and sense of humor to reach other people for Him. As you grow I pray that you will understand that nothing He has planned for you is too big or too small. You are special. You can and will be used in special ways; I don’t doubt it. Yet, I don’t want you to feel as though you have some high expectations to live up to. Any way that you choose to bless people with the gifts and opportunities God gives you will be fulfilling that purpose. You don’t have to be “great” to do great things for God. He is already using you, right in the midst of your “terrible twos” (although I spend plenty of time thinking of this time as not-so-terrible and I not wanting you to grow up because you are so darn precious right now. And if it counts for anything you told me the other day you will NOT turn three on your birthday. You will turn two again because you want to be two forever and ever.) My point is this, if God is using you now when you barely understand who He is, He will use you as you grow older, as long as you are willing. (A note on only kind of knowing who God is, today you wrapped yourself in Hayleigh’s dress-up scarves and told us you were God in heaven and you were real and we should pray to you…blasphemy can be so cute at this age. Also, not sure why the scarves came into play…)
I love you immensely, my B. I love the hard to love parts of you that I am trying to mold to be more like Christ. This is true now, as I write this, and it will be true whenever you read this. I love you for who God made you to be. I love you wherever you are on the journey. I am so glad that I get to be a part of your journey with you. We are actually on a journey of faith and sanctification together. We teach and grow each other. God gave us each other as some of the greatest tools in one another’s lives to sharpen the other to be more like Christ. I know you have done this for me. I pray for you even now, as you lay napping in your crib, probably sucking away on that silly bink, and as you sit reading this wherever you are in life, that you allow God to work in you-to mold you more each day into the likeness of His Son, and that you allow God to use you in big and/or small ways to impact others around you. I pray that you would know His strength, His courage, His forgiveness, His compassion, His grace, His Truth and His love.