What I Want My Son to Know

Today a beautiful package of flowers and chocolate was delivered to my door from my sweet man.  Miles, of course, being the curious 2-year-old that he is, was full of questions and wanted to know where his flowers and chocolate were.  I told him that Daddy only sent them to Mommy because I’m married to him (marriage being a concept he is just starting to grasp).  
He said, quite honestly, “You married?  Where your dress?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his little brain trying to figure this whole situation out.  He’d looked at our wedding album the other day, so he knew that I had worn a wedding dress at some point…he just thought that I needed to be wearing it in order to be “married” to his daddy and receive that gift.  He didn’t understand that a wedding is a one-time thing, whereas marriage is lasting.

It seems like our time these days is full of Miles asking a million questions as his growing brain explodes with new knowledge and concepts.  It’s my responsibility to help him grow and teach him about this world.  Frankly, that scares me like crazy.  There’s so much I want to teach him and so little time to do it.  Being a woman, I also feel inept to teach him how to be a man.  Yet, I realize that, being a woman, I have a unique perspective on what it actually means to be a man.  Here’s what I want my son to know:  
  • You should do and be whatever God has called you to be.  Far be it from me to stand in your way.
  • Women should be treasured and treated with honor.  They are not for your personal pleasure.
  • Being obsessed with hunting, guns, and toughness isn’t what makes a real man.
  • A real man puts God before anything else.
  • A real man desires the responsibility and fulfillment that comes from marrying a good woman.
  • A real man puts his wife and his children before himself.
  • A real man has a tender heart for children.
  • A real man is not afraid to cry.
  • Being smart or intellectual doesn’t make you any less if a man’s man.
  • It’s okay to be different.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Miles

At 8:15 Friday morning I sat in my kitchen single-handedly devouring the loaf of Amish friendship bread a friend had brought me.  It had been a rough night, so I felt justified.

My husband was gone for a few days on a business trip and the afternoon before my son had come down with a high fever.  I had been up with him most of the night and, at that moment while I sat in the quiet kitchen, he was finally sleeping.  I felt more dead than alive, and I cringed thinking about how this would be every morning for me again in a few months.  At least, if Baby Girl is anything like my Miles.

Miles.  My son.  The light of my days.  He was a terrible sleeper for the first year and a half of his life.  He never liked to be rocked or swaddled.  Nursing had been a struggle.  The first few months of his life colic had consumed my days, about driving me mad during those long evening hours when I just wished he’d stop crying and sleep.  In short, he turned my world upside down, made me question my competency as a mother, and pushed me to the brink of a nervous breakdown.

But oh how I love him.  My love for him consumes me, filling my heart to bursting.  Yet each day it miraculously grows.

That’s the mystery of motherhood, isn’t it?  Struggling, sacrificing, and aching, but loving in spite of and because of all that?  Never regretting it for one single moment?

Today my baby boy turns two.  I watch him now sitting in his half-put-together birthday present.  He holds up a tiny tractor and says, “Mama, look!”  I feel about to burst.  How can it really have been two years ago that I was holding him for the very first time, with no idea the pain and the trials and the joy that motherhood would bring me?

Happy birthday, my sweet Miles.  Thank you for coming into this world with that first shrill cry and making me a mother.  I’ve never been more thankful for anything.

The Life Of Faith

Things I Thought I’d Never Do

Today I let my son drink a nasty, not-even-100% juice drink.  I always told myself I’d never, ever let my children drink those things.  Yet, here I was, standing in the convenience store aisle, my son begging for the cool looking juice drink, and I gave in.  I was hot from the muggy day, desperately needing a nice cold drink myself, and waiting for my husband to get off work (yes, on a Saturday…again).  In that moment, the tantrum wasn’t worth it.

We sat outside in the shade drinking our not-so-good for us drinks in peace, and I realized that one little fake juice drink wasn’t going to kill him.

In my less than two years as a parent, I’ve done many things I thought I’d never do.  Bringing the baby into bed with us, waking him up from a nap, letting him eat Cheetos at a party, losing my temper with him, and even temporarily working outside the home…the list goes on and on.

Some of those things, like losing my temper with him, I regret.  I’ve accepted that I’m not perfect and that I make mistakes, but I definitely accept that I made mistake.  Most of those things, though, I don’t regret for a minute.

I honestly wish I didn’t come into motherhood with so many opinions and ideas.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have woken up exhausted on day 5 of motherhood, crying with guilt because I finally gave in and let my screaming newborn son sleep on my chest in our bed.  Maybe then I wouldn’t have wasted so much time on the internet searching for what was wrong with me as a mom, since my 3-month-old didn’t follow the “rules” of how a baby that age should be sleeping or for how long.  Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like I needed to pretend that my son only ever ate organic, healthy food, and didn’t even know that junk food, artificial colors, or GMOs existed.

Motherhood is tough enough without trying to live up to all these expectations that we set for ourselves.  The truth is, God created me to be Miles’ mommy.  He knew that I would be the best mother to Miles just by being myself.  Miles would not be any better off with the perfect, ideal mother that I dream of being.  Honestly, trying to be that perfect mom steals too much time, joy and energy that could be spent just enjoying being with my son, and enjoying being his mother.

As the years pass on, I’m sure I will do many more things as a mom that I promised myself I’d never do, and that’s just fine.  The more I let go of those pre-conceived notions and ideals I have, the better mom I’ll be anyway.  

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.    

I Vote Because of Miles

*Warning: This is a political post.  If you tend to get upset about these types of things, then please don’t read it.  I don’t want any scathing comments.  These are just my thoughts and opinions, so be nice. 🙂

Tomorrow morning my husband, my young son, and I will stand in line to cast our votes in what has turned out to be a very historic election.  I will proudly wear my “I Voted” sticker, and that night I will watch the news as the results come in.

I’m not the political fanatic in our home.  While my husband spends much of his free time following the latest polls and debates, I generally try to avoid them.  I do follow the election, but only to some extent.  I already know who I’m voting for, and I prefer to not let politics dictate my emotions and moods.  I prefer to stay away from debates, as they usually don’t result in anybody actually changing their minds.

Tomorrow, however, I will eagerly cast my ballot.  I will do so because of my son. 

Having a child changes everything.  You can talk and talk about wanting the best future for your children, but if you don’t actually have any, then it’s just talk.  This year, when I vote, it’s with the best interests of Miles’ future at heart.  Suddenly, the “future of my children” is very real, because I can see it in my son’s big blue eyes.

I have friends who aren’t voting this year, or who will be writing a name in.  They don’t agree completely with the Republican candidate, so they are holding their “principles” high and not voting for him.  They are voting with their “conscience”.  They say that they cannot in “good conscience” vote for someone who is more Moderate, for gun control, not opposed to abortion under any circumstances, not against homosexuality, not wanting to do away with the federal government completely, a Mormon, or any other reason.       

I cannot in “good conscience” not vote for him.

No, I don’t agree with Romney completely.  I’ve made it very clear before that I am against abortion, even in cases of rape.  I lean more Conservative than Moderate any day, and I firmly believe that the federal government has become far too big.  However, I will most assuredly be casting a vote for Romney tomorrow morning. 

Everyone has a right to their own opinion.  Many will vote for a third-party candidate or a write-in because they are voting on “principle”.  They insist that they are not wasting their votes.  They may not be in the sense that they are standing firm in their beliefs and voting based on them.  In truth, however, they know that there is no chance that anyone but Obama or Romney can win the election.  It’s just the facts of life. 

Those same people may criticize me for “voting for the lesser of two evils”.  They are entitled to their opinions.  But so am I.  I could not in good conscience vote for someone tomorrow who has no chance of winning.  Why?  Because when I imagine four more years with Obama in office, my son’s future starts looking very bleak.  I know that in my heart-of-hearts, I’d do whatever it takes to prevent that.

In a perfect world, Romney may not be my choice for president.  I hate to break it to you, but we don’t live in a perfect world.  We live in a fallen world, and we must do the best we can in it.  In my opinion, casting a vote for someone besides Romney is, in essence, voting for Obama.  That vote that could have been used to prevent four more years of Obama has been made basically null-and-void.  It counts, and it’s not a waste, but it’s not going to change this world or the future of our country.     

So, before you cast your votes tomorrow, look deep into your children’s eyes.  Think about the kind of world you want to leave for them.  In voting for Romney tomorrow, I am not “voting for the lesser of two evils”…I am voting for the best option.  Someday when my son asks me what part I played in this election—in helping decide the future of this country—I want to be able to tell him more than that my vote counted.  I want to be able to tell him that my vote mattered. 

Tomorrow when I vote, I am voting because of Miles.