"Hello Baby! Who are you?"  "Are you a monkey with clever toes?  Perhaps your a porcupine, twitching its nose" 

Hello Baby, a book by Mim Fox, I received as a gift from a former co-worker after Brayden was born.  It's an adorable book, Brayden and I still read it on a weekly basis - we both have it memorized.  We have lots of favorite books - and reading before bedtime is one of our oldest, and most favorite traditions.  I have been reading to him since he was just a little guy.  I would be feeding him and rocking him to sleep - while reading some of my favorites.  These favorites were children books really written to make moms cry.  A few that come to mind are, "Hold you a little longer" and "Mommies Best Kisses".  I can barely get through the first page without tears streaming.  

These beautifully written books make me think constantly about the little man that is growing up right in front of my eyes.  They help me to acknowledge - and try to force me to accept - he will not stay this little.  There will inevitably come a day when he will no longer snuggle with me and let me read stories to him.  Or let me play with him in the tub, or need me to kiss away the boo-boos.  Someday, I will be the embarrassing Mom that he doesn't want to be around.  And, I will wait until that phase turns and he will come back to trust me as a parent and a friend.  For now, Every night I will relish in our simplest and purest tradition - bath time.  snuggle time.  reading time.  our time

Here we are.  Three years in the making.  

Who are you, Brayden?

You come from 2 parents with very strong personalities.  We are both very proud of who we are, where we come from, and the little man we are raising.  Through everything, We love you.  

You were born on November 16th, 2009 at 7:21 pm at Northside Atlanta Hospital after 12 hours of labor - all 8 pounds and 10 ounces of you!  You had big dark eyes, dark hair, big hands and feet - my lips, your dad's ears. It was the most incredible moment in my life.  I can still picture it as if it were yesterday.  I will forever live with joy of that day.    From that moment on, I was a new person, better - just because I was your mom.  My life's meaning changed.  

From that day, you have been developing your own self.  You have traits from both your dad and I, gentle and kind - and, a little stubborn too.   You are loving.  You are smart.  You are handsome.  Your eyes and smile make me melt, daily. You never stop running.  You love, love, love dinosaurs.  You love sweets and would pass up a burger any day for a cookie (just like your mom).  You love bath time, still - but, I have to beg to let me wash your hair.  You love your family - all of them - with your whole heart, even though you are still working on how to share toys with your cousins.  You have a strong presence where ever you go.  You draw people to you like a magnet.  Somedays, when you and I aren't seeing eye to eye - a strangers adoring gaze or kind comment about 'it goes too fast - love them little while you can' often helps me to step back and in fact, love you while you are little.  I forget sometimes that you are still learning.  Still growing.  Still feeling out your boundaries.  And, more lately - you have decided you enjoy pushing those boundaries - just to see how far you can get.  I would say you are just a typical 3 year old - but, I also know you may have inherited those traits too...  from which parent is actually hard to tell! 

So Brayden, Here you are, on your 3rd Birthday.   We have come along way in this short time.  We have traveled many roads together, and there will be many more to come.  Just know that no matter what, my hand, shoulder, ear, heart (and pocket book) is always here for what ever you may need.

I will love you.

I know through the years you will learn many life lessons.  Some you will learn from those that love you most.  You will follow our examples.  And others, you will learn by doing - and, in the doing - things may not always come out as you envisioned in your mind.  But, you will learn, much like I have, through living.  

Always, always, always, reach higher and further then you can ever see.  You can do anything.  And if someone says you can't, work even harder, stronger, longer.  Preserverance goes a long way.  Be happy and light hearted.  Life doesn't need to be so serious.  Play - no matter how old you are, make time for fun.  Stay focused.  Work hard and love harder.  Life pays off as long as you life it.

Be honest and faithful in all relationships, including the one with God. Give gratitude everyday, for everyday is a blessing.  

You are my blessing - and everyday, especially on your birthday, I give thanks for you. 

To our Little Man, Little Buddy, Little Hawk, Little Mister, Snickerdoodle, Snugglebug, Bubba, NeNe...

Brayden Scott Hawkins - Happy 3rd Birthday! We all love you!