You Are My Greatest Adventure

To My People,

Recently we were hanging out with a group of married friends when it dawned on me that Daddy and I were the old-marrieds of the bunch.  Everyone else had been married two years or less…and here we are fast-approaching our 5th anniversary.  What the what???

I’m realizing more lately how quickly Daddy and I really did have kids.  Sure, we’d been married two years before Miles came along, but here we are five years and two kids into marriage, when some of our friends have been married five years and are still [purposefully] waiting.  My Instagram feed seems chock-full of childless married couples going on grand adventures together and living nomadic lifestyles.  Meanwhile, my personal Instagram feed is exploding with pictures of the cutest little chubby faces you’ve ever seen (yes, I’m biased).  And in case you didn’t get that, Little Munchkins, that would be you.

Settling down and having kids isn’t for everyone, I’ll give you that.  But for Daddy and I, it really was and is.  And really, the family life is a bigger challenge and adventure than any fast-paced action movie showing at the theatre.  What is an adventure after all?  It’s full of unknowns and fatigue and pushing you beyond what you thought possible.  It’s full of challenge and hurt and mistakes and worry.  What’s a bigger adventure than getting married and having kids?  I mean, the Fast and the Furious crew can’t hold a candle to me.  I’d like to see them navigate traffic with one hand holding a paci in the back seat and not be distracted by the loudest, most obnoxious screaming ever (again, a little biased).  Oh, and Jason Bourne?  I’ll bet I can function way better than you can on no sleep.  I’ve conditioned myself…I have babies.  Don’t get me started on kicking b*** with super human strength.  Have you ever tried to mess with mama’s babies?  And I’d like to see MacGyver figure out a way to hold a potty training toddler over a public potty while simultaneously holding a newborn as well as I can. (And Miles, I will be telling the pooping-on-my-foot story at your wedding someday because…you owe me.)

In all seriousness though, you all are the greatest, most fulfilling adventure I’ve ever been on…or probably ever will go on.  No, I don’t spend my days scaling mountains or living out of a station wagon, but my days are still incredibly rewarding.  We really try to keep traveling and going on spontaneous adventures with you little crazies in tow (#babywearing or #carrythemwithyou anyone???).  We throw in our fair share of crazy.  Think: flying cross-country with a two-year-old and an 8 week old, flying alone with a 23-month “lap” baby and an ever decreasing preggo lap, camping big and pregnant, camping with an 11-month old, or hiking with two kids on our back.  Yet, even on the days when I’m just home with you all day there are still challenges to overcome and new adventures to be had.  Although it may seem like it sometimes, being a wife and mom is not mundane.  It’s an adventure that’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s gritty and raw and revealing and strengthening all at the same time.  It’s one of the hardest and best things you’ll ever do.

Some days as parents, Daddy and I thrive.  Others, we just barely survive.  Yet, I know we wouldn’t trade the adventure of parenthood for a billion solo adventures out in the world.

Andy, Miles, and Nora, you are my greatest adventure.

Love,

Caitlin (aka, Mommy)    

Instagram on Vacation

We went on a much needed vacation in June. I had the best intentions of posting a slew of pictures. As usual, however, life got in the way. So…I decided I’d share with you some Instagram pictures of our trip. Be sure and follow me (@thelifenotmyown). I love making new Instagram friends!
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Dr. Quinn anyone???
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Santa Barbara
Hearst Castle
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Old Mission in Carmel
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Pfeiffer Beach
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Beach Baby
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Finding Yourself in Motherhood

Four days after my son was born, I bawled like a baby as I heard the little cry start again.  It was 3 am, I was utterly exhausted, and this was the fourth time I had tried to lay my new son down and slip into bed.  Thirty minutes later, I fell asleep with him draped across my chest…something I vowed to never do…something the pediatrician who had checked him out in the hospital had told me to never, ever do.  As I slipped into sleep I cried again, feeling like a failure as a mom. 
I’d always wanted to be a mother.  I was pretty sure that, when the time came, I would know exactly what I was doing and that motherhood would come naturally to me.  I was so wrong.
Sure, I had those amazing feelings of love you always hear about.  Changing dirty diapers didn’t make me cringe a bit.  Once the struggle of the first tough month was over, I even enjoyed nursing.  What I wasn’t prepared for were the feelings of inadequacy and uselessness.  My filthy house, dirty dishes stacked high, and inability to get one decent meal on the table made me feel completely incapable as a house wife.  The fact that my son was not a “typical” newborn (as I thought he should be) made me feel out-of-control.  My exhausted frustration at my son when he would scream for hours every night from colic made me feel like a terrible mom.  Most of all, though, I felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything all day.  I struggled with feeling a sense of purpose.
I knew that taking care of my son was my purpose for this season of life, but there was a disconnect between knowing that and feeling it in my heart.  I knew I was doing something very worthwhile and purposeful, but most days I felt like I was just treading water.  The problem was that, deep down, I wasn’t just a milk-producing, diaper changing, baby holding robot…there was a very real and individual person just dying to be let out!  The challenge in any change of seasons is finding the balance between who you are as a person and the tasks God has put before you for today. 
For me, finding this balance meant two things.  The first was that I had to change.  I had to let go of my need for control and desire to do things the “right” way and instead be flexible and learn to be the mom my son needed…not the mom I wanted to be.  Anytime God refines us, the process is far from easy and painless.  There were days that I despised the new mom posting on Facebook asking for ideas of things to do because her baby was so easy and she was bored.  Yet, I have come to realize that God gave me Miles with all of his out-of-the-boxness so that He could mold me and force me to let go of my controlling tendencies.  He gave me a very real little individual so that He could change my individual self.
Finding the balance for me also meant fusing who I was as a person with the role of mother.  Again, this isn’t an easy process.  I have come to believe that, in any season or role we find ourselves in, our personality should still shine and show through.  I don’t parent the same as any other mom because I am not any other mom.  I am a tea-drinking, outdoor-loving, greenthumb-wannabe who loves traveling and good food.  Consequently, my son spends a lot of time outdoors, is well acquainted with garden tools, has traveled more than most people will in a lifetime, and will eat just about anything…including spicy food or strong-flavored ethnic cuisine.  He is his own person, but his daily life is the way it is mostly because of who I am as a person.  God placed Miles in my care because He knew that the mama I am is the mama Miles needed.   
As I approach my two-year anniversary of being a mother, I’ve gotten into a better groove.  I have a system down for at least keeping the house manageably clean.  We do eat a home-cooked meal most nights, even if it was something I stuck in the freezer two weeks ago and just dumped in the crockpot that morning.  I already have long lists of freezer meals to assemble and preparations to make for whenever Baby Baker #2 decides to enter our home, knowing very keenly how needed those will be.  I feel very purposeful as I order our home, chase my toddler around, and reach out to other moms in our community. 
I am not the same person I was before my son was born.  And yet, I am more than just a mother.  I am Caitlin Baker, wife, mom, homemaker, and very real person…something that brings me very great joy.    

Twenty-five

Twenty-five.  Five fives.  A quarter of a century. 
Today my parents celebrate twenty-five years of marriage.  To some that may seem insignificant, but in this day and age it’s a sign of dedication, commitment, steadfastness, and love.  My parents have stuck together through thick and thin, good times and bad times, busy times and quiet times.  Through twenty-five years they’ve come out stronger, happier, and more in love than ever.
I’m so thankful for those years.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them argue, so that I could see what it means to reconcile and make up.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them sneak a kiss, so that I would know that the fire doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) die.  I’m thankful for the times they laughed together, so that I would understand that humor and real life should be intertwined.  I’m thankful for the times that they traveled with us, so that our eyes would be opened to learning and the world around us.  I’m thankful for them taking us to church every Sunday, that we might know what the body of Christ is.  I’m thankful for the times they loved us and showed us mercy and forgiveness, that we might understand the heart of God more fully.  I’m thankful for the times I saw them pray and read the Bible together, so that we might Who must be the center of all relationships. 
I’m thankful for them portraying marriage as a beautiful, messy, hard, wonderful gift from the Lord.  I know that I would not have the fulfilling;oarriage I have today if it wasn’t for their example and their witness. 
Happy 25th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!!!  I am so, SO proud to have you as my parents!

One Year

Well, my sweet little man is a whole year old.  I still have to pinch myself when I say that.  It just doesn’t seem real. 

There are days that it doesn’t even seem real that I am a mama…that I have a son. 

I never thought I’d have a son that would look so much like me.  I mean, he looks like a little boy—and he certainly acts like one—but his face, his build, his head, even many of his looks are so very like me. 

It seems fitting, really, that this little man child that came from my womb would be such a mirror for me.  It makes me think of the flaws I have that I don’t want to pass on to him.  It makes me worry that I will never know how to parent such a child.  I certainly would never have known how to parent myself.  Add to that the fact that he is very definitively all-boy, and I feel utterly lost and helpless. 

Thankfully, my God is not.  Daily I pray and ask God for wisdom.  I ask Him to show me how to raise up this little man right.  I ask Him to show me how to best lead him on the path God has for him. 

I don’t have all the answers.  Heck, I don’t have any of the answers.  But that’s okay.  My loving, gracious, amazing God does.  And that’s all I need to know.


An Apron Touched by Floured Hands

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Last Christmas my mother gave me an apron she had made.  It was feminine, frilly, and embodied the carefree days of summer.  Bright greens and pinks, with cherries, watermelons, and lemons, it was just what I needed for my drab kitchen…especially in the grey days of winter.  It embodies everything I love about the kitchen—a feminine woman making good food for her family and delighting in her God-given place. 

When I was little, my mom had a drawer full of aprons.  When helping her bake cookies or other treats, we got to select one out of there.  But there was one that was always Mom’s.  It was a white, lacy piece that was long—perfect for my tall mother.  She always wore it while she cooked and baked, whipping up something delightful for us to eat. 

Many are the hours my mom has spent in her kitchen.  Us girls rarely ever helped with meals, simply because my mom was so good at it.  When she was bending over her stove, wearing that white apron, she was in her glory.  We would watch her with wide, wondering eyes, hoping to someday be the cook in our kitchen like she was in hers.

And as she worked, she’d tell us stories about the women who came before.  She’d talk about what my grandma used to make, and my great-grandma’s famous “Polish Balls”.  She’d tell us about the persimmon tree in my great-grandma’s backyard, and all of the persimmon recipes she subsequently collected.  Every fall she’d get out her grandma’s apple pie recipe, the crust of which always won the prize.  At Thanksgiving she’d make a huge feast, probably with the same dishes my grandma used to make.  At Christmastime we’d make the “Polish Balls”, and send a batch off to everyone who loved my great-grandma’s delicacies.  And always she was wearing that apron. 

One time I tried it on, just for fun.  But, somehow, it just didn’t seem to fit.  It wasn’t mine, it was Mom’s.  It reminded me that my grandma and my great-grandma probably had their own aprons that were distinctly theirs. 

And here I am, a married woman, with a kitchen of my own.  And an apron of my own.

What will this apron become to the children I will bear?  I pray it becomes a symbol of “mama”, just like the white apron was a symbol of my mom.  A symbol whose floured sides and worn straps are full of love and care.  Full of the stories of the women before.  Full of good food, a pretty woman, and family.

This post was written as part of Apron Week over at The Little Pink House.  Head over there to check it out! 

Apron Week at the Little Pink House