Kaden Quint.... my "Gentle One."

Yesterday you turned 11... but I'm pretty sure it was just yesterday that you were still holding my hand or crawling into my lap for that one last story before bedtime.  I think, just yesterday, we were going for long walks in the stroller together, and Daddy was teaching you how to cast your fishing pole outside our apartment parking lot.  I was helping you remember to only suck your thumb during naps and bedtime, and you were lisping sweetly:  "I love you so much and TOO much."

But...then I blinked.
And now you're eleven.
And it really kind of slays me.

Almost as tall as me.  A proficient fisherman and hunter.  Generous with your hugs but now shy with your kisses.  I'm trying to honor that boundary, Bud, but sometimes I just have to muckle onto you and lay a wet one down just to see you squirm.

And just to hold one more time.
These years are flying past me - and I feel I can barely catch my breath.

I remember when the doctors told us we might have fertility issues, and I remember being okay with that.  I remember telling my Mama that I didn't think I was going to be very maternal, and I was pretty sure I'd ruin any kid God ever gave me.  I remember feeling you move and squirm inside of me, and feeling terrified at what we'd just done.  Your birth was scary, and I remember being rushed into surgery and almost losing my womb.  I hardly had a chance to hold you before I was taken away, and I remember thinking:  "What if they give me back the wrong baby?  I hardly got a chance to see him."  I already felt like a failure.

And then it was all over, and you were back in my arms....and I remember knowing that you are were mine...and that I indeed had the right baby boy in my arms.  I remember being so proud to share you with all of your Grampys and Grammys and Aunties and Uncles.  I remember thinking how handsome you were - and how tiny.

And then you cried.
And then Grammy said:  "Ooooh!  He needs his Mama."
And then I froze.

Because I knew that right then and right there every single person in that room would know that I was an imposter.  Every single baby I had ever held up until that day (which wasn't very many) would always cry in my arms.  I was certainly not a natural, and every baby knew it.  And then, the most beautiful thing happened....a moment that is forever ingrained in my memory.  She placed you sobbing in my arms, and the instant you were back with me, your little newborn eyes - they closed -....you snuggled in, and you nestled deep....and you instantly stopped your crying.
You were certainly a natural with your own baby sister.
You knew me.
And from that moment on, I was a Goner...
That was the moment where I remember becoming a Mother.

And what a ride it's been.

You are a Joy, Kaden...and I am so proud to be your Mom.  You are tender and you are kind.  You are patient with your siblings, and you respect your parents.  You are funny and you are witty.  You love the simple pleasures, and you are easy to please.  You don't worry what others think of you, you don't try to follow the crowd, and you are honest and responsible.

Kaden, as you enter your teen years, I pray that these qualities remain...and that you always see their value.  I pray that following the crowd never becomes a temptation, and that honoring your parents stays priority.  Honesty and integrity will always serve you well -- and we always want the truth, no matter what.  We are your biggest fans, and we will always love you -- no matter what.  I always tell you kids:  "There is nothing you could do that would make us love you more, and there is nothing you could do that would make us love you less."  Not a single thing, Bud.
Your years in a single snapshot.
Kade - may your walk with the Lord become your own.  May it be true and may it be deep.  That is my prayer for you this year.  I pray that you make Him first priority - that you hide His word deep in your heart, and that you grow in wisdom and stature.  I pray that you will be strong and courageous in Him.  That you will always stand for truth.  I pray that you will always stay looking out for the underdog - just as you do now - and that you will lead by example.  I pray for your purity.  That you will treat all girls as you treat your sister, and that you will be a gentleman.  That you dare to be different, and that you dare to take stands - even if they are unpopular with your friends.
Afro Boy.
My prayer for all of you kids I had you memorize years ago:  Deuteronomy 10:12 ~ "Now, oh {Kaden}, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

You do this Love -- and you will be blessed and you can have Joy in the midst...
Life will not always be easy -- but that's why you need Jesus.  It's all about Him.
You miss out on that....and you miss the boat completely.
"He will make known to you the path of life." ~ Psalm 16:11
Coffee order.  I've created a Monster.
Watch your Daddy, Kaden.  Learn from him.  I've told you this your entire life.  Of all you kids - you are most like him - in your personality and in the way that you think.  We jokingly tell you that God has given you a Jesse to prepare you for your wife.  Chances are - you will marry as different a personality as Daddy and I did.  Watch how your Daddy does life.  What how - even now - he goes against the grain in what society values and in what it sees as important.  See how he is honest, see how he is true.  Watch how he cares for your Mama, and watch how tender he is with your baby.  Pay attention to how he makes his decisions and how he is intentional about his days.  Focus on relationships - and on your walk with Jesus first.  Lean in and listen.

When you struggle - and you will...
And when you fail - because you will...
Know that we won't be surprised.  And we'll love you no less.
Know that you can tell us anything - and you can tell us everything.
We will walk it with you, and we will have your back.

Thanks for the gift of you, sweet boy.
Thanks for the gift of Motherhood...and thanks for your grace with me.
I surely know that I don't do this thing called Parenting perfectly...but I love you with all that is in me.
Homemade icecream cake.  Eat your heart out, DQ.
Happy Birthday Number Eleven!
May this day be filled with many Legos and many fish reeled in.
You are the Best, my Love!!!

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