I remember the day I went into labor with you. It was exactly 2 weeks before your due date and I wasn’t quite prepared. Your big sister was 21 months old so explaining your arrival to her wasn’t easy, but I think she understood that mommy was going away and bringing back a brother for her. Nanny came to stay and finished the preparations exactly as I instructed, down to the last detail. She was so excited to meet her first grandson.
We walked in Walmart for a while before going to the hospital because there was time. You were either going to be named “Ayden” or “Avery”, and I had the cutest little outfit picked out for you to come home in. Your nursery was Uncle Jon’s childhood bedroom and I painted it light blue with a blue jean teddy bear border. I still have the first teddy bear I ever bought you to go with that room. Your furniture matched beautifully. All your tiny clothes were perfectly folded, ready to be worn. I even found you and Addison matching pajamas. I couldn’t wait to bring you home.
After you came into the world (I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say it was not pretty), Nanny brought Addison to meet you. Paw Paw lifted her up to the nursery window and pointed to you. She promptly replied, “No, I want THAT one,” and pointed to another baby. I should have taken that as the omen it was.
When I was pregnant with you I obsessively worried about how I could love you as much as I loved Addison, but the moment the doctor placed you into my arms I finally understood what everyone had been telling me: my love didn’t have to be divided, it was simply multiplied. How I adored you from the first moment.
The cuteness faded as you refused to sleep more than an hour at a time. My sanity was tested with two children in diapers. But I remember sitting back and watching the two of you interact – I watched Addison become a big sister even though she herself was only a baby. I adored you both from the depth of my soul. But you, my Ayden, were my rock. You followed such a schedule. I could set my watch by your waking and eating patterns. You brought a sense of stability to a very unstable time. God, as He always does, knew what He was doing.
As you’ve grown I have counted it a privilege to be your biggest fan. I remember when you refused to wear anything but your red cowboy boots (from Nanny, btw) to preschool. I remember picking you up from kindergarten every day and you running full speed ahead into my arms. I remember aching to the bottom of my heart missing you as I stayed in Morgantown when Avery was born sick, and the relief I felt when I finally got to hold all of my babies. I will never forget you running off of the bus asking for “your baby” when Aubrey was little, and having to convince you to wait until your baby woke up from her nap before you could play with her.
Hundreds of baseball, basketball, football and soccer games passed. Years of convincing you reading was a skill you would actually need, hours of homework and projects, playing games with you, getting you to do chores, watching as you became the person you are still becoming…it’s all nothing but a blessing in hindsight. While some of it may have been trying, the struggle was worth it, honey, because I could not be more proud of you, my son – a man who stands before me with a plan for his life, a purpose and a drive that I admire. And to be your mom is the greatest privilege.
You, my sweet boy, will forever be the tiny human who holds my head in his chubby baby hands and says, “I love you, mama” in my eyes. But I know you have a world to change, and I want you to know, Ayden, that I am your biggest fan. Happy birthday, sweetheart. Mama loves you right back.