Things I Want My Daughter to Know

The thought of having a daughter has at times made me scared silly.  Not that raising a son is any less challenging or important.  It’s just that, as much as I see myself in my son, I know I will see myself even more so in my daughter.  And I have been there myself.  I have known the joys of womanhood, but I have also known the tremendous heartaches.  I think about the mistakes I have made and worry that she will make the same, knowing that I cannot spare her from many of them. 

As the day approaches that I will finally hold her in my arms, I think often about all that I want to teach her and what I want her to know, especially about being a woman.  I know that I will make many, many mistakes as a mother, and that she will too.  To err is human, after all.  However, here are some things that I want to tell her:

God has given you specific and unique talents and abilities…don’t waste them.  No woman is the same, and neither should you think that their callings are all the same.  God has given you interests and gifts that He has given no one else.  Cultivate them, pursue them, and develop them.  He wants you to use them so that He may mold you into the woman He wants you to be. 

Be proud when you are smart and knowledgeable.  Growing up, I was always self-conscious about being “smarter” than the boys in school.  This would sound crazy to you if you knew how intelligent and educated my mother is, but even as a young girl I had picked up on the stigma that guys don’t like girls with “brains”.  Don’t be afraid to be smart and good at school.  God has given you those giftings for a reason, and later in life you will only be looked up to, not down upon, for them.

Strength and godly womanhood are not mutually exclusive.  Often times there’s so much emphasis in church circles placed on wives being submissive, gentle, and quiet that we think we need to tiptoe around like scared church mice.  I don’t believe that’s what God wanted us to do either.  Take one look at the women of the Bible and you will see that they were strong, brave women who knew their own minds.  Esther went before her husband the king without being summoned, Tamar committed treason against her own people, Ruth left her family and all she had ever known, and Mary bravely faced disgrace and social stigma to carry her Savior in her womb.  Godly women are also strong women…I believe they have to be!

Submission does not equal weakness.  In line with the last post, submission to your husband does not mean being a doormat.  It means letting him lead, but choosing to do so out of respect for him. 

Be strong in your beliefs, but know why you believe them and what really matters.  Don’t be legalistic.  Don’t believe something just because your parents believe it, or because a pastor you like believes it, or because a boy you’re interested in believes it.  Search the Scripture for yourself, pray, and seek God, and find your standards and convictions there.  Standards and rules that are man-made and not backed by Scripture have legalism at their center.  Don’t get caught in that trap. 

Don’t change who you are for anyone.  Don’t change your standards or your convictions or your beliefs to please anyone.  If you have to change who you are for someone, then they are making you feel guilty for being who God created you to be.  That kind of person deserves no place in your life.  That goes for both loosening your standards and raising them.  A person, especially a guy, who expects you to dress more conservatively or act a certain way for him (within reason, when you are following the standards you are personally convicted about) is pulling you into the trap of legalism.  Steer clear. 

Don’t look to guys to validate your worth.  Guys will hurt your feelings and overlook you.  I can guarantee that, one day, at least one (and maybe more) will break your heart.  Don’t look to a man to validate your worth.  Know who you are in Christ and find your strength and your self-worth in that.
 
You are a beautiful, captivating woman of God who doesn’t need anyone else’s approval to know that.  God has created you beautiful and unique.  He calls you His daughter…His enchanting, beautiful, precious creation.  When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm you, cling to that.  Find your strength and your personhood in Him and Him alone.  Seek out who it is that He has called you to be and be it to the best of your abilities.     

Embrace your womanhood.  Being a woman is a wonderful, hard, challenging, joyful thing.  Be glad you are a woman.  I know from experience that, for all of the painful, difficult things we face in life, that the blessings are a thousand-fold more wonderful. 

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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.    

An Overwhelming Sadness

I was raised in Arizona, a land teeming with sunlight and wide open spaces.  It would rain or snow, and then the sun would come out as piercing as ever.  The sky was always the brightest blue you’ve ever seen.  It never was grey.

Here in Arkansas, the winter is a dreary time.  The sky is always filled with clouds, mostly without snow or rain.  The trees are bare, everything is brown, and the sun rarely makes an appearance. 

And it’s cold.  Not as cold as it was in Flagstaff, but somehow it feels colder.  The cold here is wet.  It seeps to your very bones. 

This year, January was grey outside.  And it was grey within me.

All last fall I had student taught in a wonderful second grade classroom.  I was tired and drained, but I loved the kids.  I loved the teachers.  I loved teaching.

The plan was to graduate, get a job subbing, and then, Lord willing, an actual teaching job.  When I finished in December, my husband asked me if I would consider working at the ironworks.  They had recently had some people leave, and really needed help for a time.

Maybe this is my calling, I thought.  After all…won’t I be helping my husband?


All throughout January I worked in a small cave of an office, with hardly any light.  The little light that came in was the grey January light.  When at home, I would sit and stare out the window…aching for spring. 

I found myself wishing, praying that I would get pregnant.  Then I wouldn’t have to work at all!  I’d get to stay at home and do all of the things I loved to do…baking, sewing, homemaking.  Then I would be happy.


I am so thankful that the Lord didn’t grant that prayer then.  A child is not the way out of a pit.  My solution would have only made things worth. 

What I was failing to see was that my unhappiness was not related to my circumstances.  I had done all the homemaking things I loved while student teaching.  What I lacked now was the energy and the motivation. 

My husband was so good to me, and life was wonderfully blessed.  But despite it all I was sad and down.  I felt like my life lacked meaning.  I was lost and bitter and unhappy. I was depressed.


I was ashamed to admit it even to myself, but once I did I was able to take steps to beat it.  I began to make getting out in the sun purposeful and started taking Vitamin D.  I exercised and tried to eat better.  I started working less at the ironworks and staying home more.  I started blogging.  I planned our garden and planted seeds.  I started being purposeful in delighting in my husband and the Lord’s many blessings.  Most of all, I asked Him to come in and renew my heart…to cleanse me and make me new. I asked Him to give me joy again.


And He did.  The spring came and life returned…both to the trees and within me. 

Sometimes we feel down, depressed, or discouraged.  It can be a horrible, shameful, and lonely time.  You feel like you have no right to be down or depressed, and yet you are. 

Just know, you’re not alone. 


The spring will come.  Life will return.  For there is a Balm in Gilead.