a letter to my son


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Braxton,
Oh Braxton, how I love you! How your chubby, happy, silly, squishy little face makes me smile. You are so full of life. Everything you do, you do with vigor. Sometimes I wish you had a little less vigor…hehe, but mostly I love to watch you attack life. You do not do anything half way whether that is running and playing, or expressing your feelings, or showering us with affection. I love that you are such a lovey boy-so unafraid to give and receive touch and affection. I hope you stay that way because that is part of the core of who you are.

You keep me working throughout the day and you keep me working on myself as well. God gave each of my children to me in part to reveal things about myself that I didn’t know or to show me areas in my life that I needed to improve on. I am thankful for the ways that you cause me to be molded to be more like Christ. Sometimes you are quite the challenge for me. I think this is something you enjoy. But through the challenge I see a strong little man who God entrusted to me to raise for Him, which is the ultimate challenge. I love that God made you that way. I love that you are affectionate. I love that you are expressive and that everything you do is definitive and full of enthusiasm. I love that you are opinionated and inquisitive and energetic. These are qualities you certainly got from your dad and qualities that sometimes I wish I had more of. I pray for the ability to guide you and mold those attributes into something that honors God and furthers His kingdom. I am really excited to see how God will use the dichotomy of you-the “push the envelope” characteristics and the incredibly tender, sensitive and affectionate character traits. You are such a complete person. It is beautiful to see you emerging.
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I have been so proud of you and how you have adjusted to being a big brother. You just adore Royce. You greet her every morning with “HIII-LLLLOOO BAAABBBBYYY!” and a hug that borders on a body slam. You are protective of her too. Whenever she cries you want to know why and often hover around her until she has calmed down or you are convinced that she will be okay. Sometimes your aggressive love is the reason for her crying, but you don’t seem, to catch on as you lay your head on her saying “oooh its okay, Boycie”. Whenever she sneezes I hear you say, even from another room, “Bess you, girl!” You love to give her nosies, which consists basically of you rubbing your snot all over her face, but I let you because it is so darn cute and I don’t want to kill your sweet nature.

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Now that you are sandwiched in between two sisters it will be interesting to see how you exert your “boy-ness”. When we found out that Royce was a girl I instantly felt a deeper connection to you-my boy. So often the middle child gets the short end of the stick or feels that they lack identity in the family. I think its cool because you are not “just” a middle child-you are our boy, and identity all your own.  I am learning the whole world of boys as I go. But I am thrilled that you are my teacher! I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful boy. I am just so thankful that God chose me to be your mommy when He could have chose anyone else. I feel so undeserving yet so greedy to have you as my own. I could never imagine my life without you, my sweet boy. You brighten my days, teach me things that no one else could and fill my heart to bursting with love and joy. I feel that in giving me you God gave me something that I didn’t know I needed but now could never  be whole without. You have blessed me in ways I can’t even articulate with mere words.

You are one of God’s greatest gifts to me on a daily basis. You fill me up in areas I never knew we empty. You reach portions of me that only you could touch. You test me and teach me and satisfy inner longings in me that God created only you to satisfy. You make me more complete. You make me stronger. You make me fall on Christ in my weakness. You make me happier. You make me wiser. You make me deeper. You make me more full of love. You make me more compassionate. You make me take myself less seriously. You make me focus on what really matters. You make me cry. You make me laugh and certainly you make me smile. You are the “oy” in my “joy.” And I love you like I love no one else.

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I am excited to see what God has planned for the next chapters in our story, my B.  There is really and truly a place in my heart all your own. I love you so incredibly much. I hope you always know that to be true.

Love,
Mommy

sisters

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(I originally wrote this to give to Rylie and Jayna for Christmas as part of my family's tradition of giving a gift that doesn't cost anything.)

From the first time we told Hayleigh that we were going to be having another baby, she insisted that it was a sister, not just a girl, a sister. We told her that there was a good chance that it would be another boy, another brother…and that was okay…right? She never really entertained the possibility of another brother. She told me once “I already have a brother.” As in, “Mommy, why would I need another one?!” It is not that she doesn’t just love Braxton. She does. I am usually impressed and my heart is warmed by how well they play together, by the mutual adoration they have for one another. But it was like something was missing from Hayleigh’s little world, and that something was a sister. When we found out at 18 weeks pregnant that we would be having a girl, it was as if we were telling Hayleigh something she had known in her heart all along and yet as if we were telling her the greatest news of her life thus far. And in fact, we probably were. We weren’t just having a girl. We were having a sister.
The excitement and anticipation that overflowed out of her for the next months was truly nothing short of beautiful. On numerous occasions it made me cry at the depth of her emotions surrounding Royce. She genuinely loved her without having ever met her. She would talk to her through the walls of my stomach, making plans about what they would do together and telling her how much she loved her. She even insisted that Royce had responded to her saying “I love you too, Hayleigh-my big sister.”



We had told Hayleigh that Royce would be born sometime around Thanksgiving, probably a little bit after. On Thanksgiving morning Hayleigh was especially excited and we soon learned why. In her three year old mind a little after Thanksgiving meant that Royce would be born right after we ate dinner. When we told her that Royce was probably not coming that day she just started to cry-not a temper tantrum but her “grown up” cry where she tries to hold it back but she can’t because she is so overwhelmed with sadness. Oh my heart broke for her little heart as she sat in my arms on my bed saying over and over “I just want to meet my sister”.

And then they did meet.

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I watched Hayleigh’s life change forever. Two girls. One oozing pure unadulterated joy, the other still contentedly unaware of the magnitude of the moment. Two girls whose lives are forever intertwined.

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Will Royce admire her Big Sis? Will she come to Hayleigh for advice and to share her secrets? Will they play house or go shopping together or stay up late into the night giggling at jokes they only they can understand? When they have grown up and moved away will they return to fill our living room with the memories and laughter of sisters?

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All these thoughts and more flooded my head as I watched them meet in a moment that can never be duplicated. It was a moment filled with such importance. However their relationship takes shape, their lives are woven together-as siblings, but also as sisters. Despite any distance-physical or otherwise- there is no bond quite like that of a sister.
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Growing up with my younger sisters has shaped me in ways that I can only begin to recount. From the years of absurd and intricate games of pretend, to the lung busting renditions of Mulan and Fiddler on the Roof songs, from the car rides and family vacations, to the nights spent all three of us sleeping in my room on two beds pushed together (I remember always falling down the crack between the beds but never caring too much because I had a sister on either side of me. I also remember not being able to fall asleep until I knew they were both asleep and I could hear their steady breathing.). From the giggles of belly laughter to the sobs of heartache and disappointment, no one can know you quite like a sister. And no one can touch you quite the way a sister can. It is a bond that withstands whatever life seems to throw at it. And I know because over the years my sisters and I have had more stuff thrown at us than we cared to imagine during the days of playing house. Just as life, it is not always pretty-this bond of sisterhood. Yet in the the ugliness of life and the grit of reality there is beauty even in the most tarnished people. For me a good deal of that beauty springs from the complexity and the loveliness of sisterhood.

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As Peter handed Royce to Hayleigh for the first time, and Hayleigh’s face exuded the overflow of more excitement and joy than her little heart could hold, I could not help but feel as if we were giving her a gift. To Hayleigh in that moment it was the long awaited sister all swaddled up in a bundle like the sweetest of Christmas gifts, but to me I knew the gift was something so much more, something intangible, something never ending. I feel as if they were both given a gift that day. They were given each other. I don’t know much of anything about what their future holds, but I do know this: this Christmas season God gave Hayleigh and Royce a special gift that no matter what will keep on giving. It is the same gift that I am especially thankful to have in my life this year-not just girls but sisters. 


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Blue eyes, big smiles and snow balls

We have had record snow this year which is a lot different from last year when Hayleigh didn’t get to play outside in the snow until the middle of February. We got a big storm right after Christmas, but before Christmas we took the kids outside to play. I had almost as much fun as they did as I took photos of them playing.

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I love to watch them laugh and play without any thoughts of the evils, disappointments or stresses of this world.

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Sometimes I like to just try to lose myself in their world.

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I watch their ice blue eyes twinkle in the reflection of the sunlight.

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I listen to the cadence of their giggles echo through my ears.

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I can’t help but laugh myself as they stumble, doubled over from laughing and playing so hard they can barely breath.

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I try to imagine I am learning and experiencing life along with them for the first time.

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I shut out the day to day stress, the demands, the sadness, the newsreel, the conflicts, the worry for the future, the exhaustion of adulthood.

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And lose myself, just for a moment in their world.
It is the best therapy of all.

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And because I couldn’t leave out my littlest baby, here I came in to get some cuddles from this sweet girl. (Actually these photos are from another day but I did cuddle with her!)

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(3 weeks)

One month (or so) in

Well, last week Royce turned one month old…already. And yet, I feel as if she has already been here a while. She is starting to interact and observe more of her surroundings, which is always fun to watch. She will sometimes smile at us  and coos so sweetly. I think she is telling me that she loves me. Hey, that’s what Hayleigh says she is saying so we are going to go with it. All in all she is a pretty content and chill baby and sleeps awesome (yay!). Of course her growing up brings up some ugly feelings of wanting to lock in her a room and somehow concoct a potion that will make her stay teeny and squishy forever.

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The novelty has not worn off for Braxton and Hayleigh. They still spend most of their time surrounding Royce, talking to her in high pitched tones, singing to her, kissing her, occasionally jumping on her and generally crowding her personal space. I am not surprised by Hayleigh (well maybe a little that her fervor has not waned at all) but I am pleasantly surprised by just how infatuated and in love Braxton is. Oh my sweet kids.

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Just as expected it is a full time job just keeping everyone fed, clean (kinda) and safe. Picture me spending much of my day acting as human barrier between overly-affectionate-can’t-contain-their-excitement-children  and a  wide-eyed-scared-for-her-life-just-wanting-to-sleep-child. It is good agility training if I ever decide I want to revisit my athletic days.


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Christmas was wonderful and even though it was two weeks ago I still feel like I should document it with a handful of photos, mostly just the kids adorable outfits and our first semi-successful attempt at a family photo.

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We are adjusting pretty well to being a family of five. It isn’t easy and there are definitely moments where I want to run away and go stay in a hotel just to escape the constant demands and to hear some quiet. There are moments where I don’t think I am cut out for it and I am certain I will fail. There are moments where the walls and mounds of laundry and dishes start closing in and I wonder how I will ever keep up…and keep sane. But God has given me a wonderful husband who is a great help to me and also pretty good at giving me a dose of reality when I need it. Not that those feelings aren’t reality but he is good at reminding me of what actually matters and encouraging me to look at the blessings. And we certainly do have a lot of blessings-three pretty adorable, wonderful blessings that I can think of off the top of my head!

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It is still a little surreal to me that we now have a family the same size as the one I grew up in. I always wondered what my family would look like someday. And then Peter and I would wonder together how many kids we would have, what genders etc. And here we are-with our wonderful little family becoming complete before our eyes. Sometimes it is overwhelming. I mean this in the least cliché way possible; we are truly blessed.

I have realized a few things the last month-ish since Royce has been here.
1.) My house will probably never be clean again.
2.) I can plan on having a perpetual headache because moments of quiet are few and far between.
3.) Wearing make up is a novelty.
4.)As infants all three of my kids did/do the same adorable lip purse as they arch their back.
5.)It really is true what they say, some of the things you thought were so important with your first baby you realize don’t really matter by your third and you lighten up a lot. (We will call it lightening up and not  getting lazy or being too busy to care.)
6.) My van doors will not lock when it is turned off but the keys are still in the ignition. Thank you Dodge for preventing me from locking three kids in the car at the Stone Road Kwikfill.
7.) We should rent out a room at our pediatric office. It would probably be cheaper than our copays. So far this month we have all had what I have dubbed “The Cold that Never Ends” (…it just goes on and on my friends…), as well as one serving of Croup, three sinus infections, two ear infections and RSV.
8.) Going from 2 to 3 kids is less challenging than going from 1 to 2. Maybe it is because Peter and I are skilled at zone defense. But it is more likely because by adding a third kid we just added to the crazy.
9.) Seeing your kids welcome and love another sibling unconditionally and passionately is probably the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced. Sometimes it feels like the walls of my heart will burst from my swelling love.
10.) I need to start making my own laundry detergent. I am spending way too much money on the stuff.
11.) You use your tail bone for more than I previously realized before breaking it in childbirth.
12.) My kids (and husband for that matter) all look exactly alike when they sleep.
13.) Almost 4 and almost 2 year olds still need to be held and kissed just like a baby.
14.) People will tell me a lot that I '”have my hands full”. I think I might start answering with “better full than empty!”
15.) Even though sometimes I might not feel that way, this is what I was made to do.

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