Age 3: Marking a new mama milestone & toddler birthday

Folks, I have a three year old. Crazy, I know. I was up early, anxious about Caleb's party. Worried that people might take over our spot or that the weather would not be cooperative. I got to the park early and met the bounce house guy there. We set up the jumper, and it was amazing. Huge, possibly unnecessary, but so fun and exciting to have. I laid inside the jumper for a long time, thinking, watching, praying, reading, photographing. It was pretty comfy.

Caleb and Preston
When Caleb first got there, he was quiet, watchful, and eager to check out the jumper. He was a little sad because he didn't see anyone but his mom laying in the bouncer, and his dad who had brought him to the park. He asked me, "Mom, where...where are my friends?" Then when when his dad got into the bouncer, he and Spencer played and had loads of fun. I took a few pictures, and was so happy that Caleb was excited.

Caleb's best friend Preston has sadly moved to another school, but he and his awesome parents came to Caleb's party. They were instantly old pals again. At one point when Caleb and Preston both came out of the bounce house together, Caleb ran over to me and said, "We...we really good friends!" Later, Teddy, a boy from Caleb's school, was playing in the bouncer with Caleb. They were talking and Caleb told him, "I am a real firefighter." Teddy seemed to agree, and then the boys gave each other a hug and resumed playing. The party was a wild success and the kids loved their fire helmets. Caleb even told me, "I'm going to pass out these fire helmets to everybody." I told him to wait on that, since his friends were in the bounce house at the moment.

I think for me, what was so special and meaningful about this party, was that it is a mama milestone for me. 3 years of being a mom. In a way, you are a mom when you are pregnant because you are thinking about your baby and taking care of yourself in order to take care of the baby. Your mind shifts to both of you, and it's not just you anymore. But life changes drastically when a baby is born. Your freedom as you know it is gone. And you've got to want this. You've got to be ready for this. I wasn't. And it is still very hard for me now, having such wanderlust and passion, and feeling like I can't do any of the things that I want to do. Because he comes first. I deny myself so much for him. And it was a steep sacrifice I was willing to make. I knew I was not yet aware of all the ways life would change for me when Caleb was born. You can only know so much, until it happens.

What shocked me the most, was not going to graduate school when I was accepted to USC's MSW program. I kind of wrote about it here. I have such a heart for working in a way that can help others. And the work required to obtain a Master's in Social Work is fascinating to me. I have come to finally resolve myself to the fact that this is something that has to wait for me. And it was extremely hard for me to finally let it go. The second hardest sacrifice  is having to stay in Orange County. I never wanted to stay in OC. Once I left, I had no desire or intention of returning. But I came back because of Caleb. And I have stayed because of him too. He has a happy and stable life. He loves his grandparents and sees them often. His dad is here. This is enough reason for me to stay. But not for my sake, not at all. I wrote about this here. I was freaked out that he was turning 3 for awhile. It seems so old, so... not baby anymore. But his birthday came, and it was good. It made sense and it didn't freak me out anymore. 3 years of this undoubtedly smart, sweet, silly, all boys-boy's life.

Left to right: Christy, Amanda, myself, Amy, Heather.
My C. Street roommates were Christy, Amy & Heather.
The other reason his party was special and meaningful for me, was the friends who came out and brought their families to join us in celebration. Friends of mine whom I don't see all that often because of their kid filled busy lives. Friends who have loved me and supported me since I moved out of my families house as a junior in high school.  This community of love came  and celebrated my boys beautiful, blessed 3 years of life with me. Each of these people have been like family to me. And while we have been spread out with different lives now, having everyone who came and  took their time and energy to come to our little fire engine park party for Caleb was very special.

Life didn't go the way I planned. Part of that is my fault. I was depressed and stopped caring about things I used to care about. I didn't think about God. I was living in this deadness. I wasn't looking or searching for God's light. And it was during this time, when we had Caleb. I knew he was meant to be here. And I knew he was meant to be mine. I knew I would have to give up my life for him. I know parents say, "You don't have to stop being you or give up your life when you have a kid!" But I did. And I do. I don't know what plans God has. I don't know how he will work this together for our good. But I know that he delights in Caleb, as do the rest of us. And this boy is a loving, special, sweet child whom God made and planned into being. I knew when I was pregnant with him, that there was a place in this world for him. That the world needed this boy. And what do I know now? I know God has a plan. I know God is bigger than my disappointments with my sad, pushed aside plans of wanderlust and deep debt graduate school. And I know that I trust him with my future. I hope this means a few things for me. Namely, a new job asap (let me know if you know of anything!!), and one day maybe, a healthy and Godly relationship. But who knows. I trust God. And that, is a very good thing.

In this last week, Caleb has chosen to pray three times. Twice for bed, and once for his dinner. Each time, my soul sings, just a little. The first time, a lot. We have "fought" about prayer up until now. Then one day, he decided he would pray all on his own. It is so precious.

Before Caleb grabbed a chunk of cake.
Back to the party, the moment Caleb saw his cake, he took a chunk off the side with his hand. I will take full credit for this affinity for cake. I am a known cake lover. So glad he loved his it! In fact, he loved it so much so, that twice the next day, he snuck into the fridge to eat it out of the box. The first time, he ate it on the kitchen floor. The second time, it was in the living room and smeared all over the carpet. After that, I threw it away. It was better for the both of us. I am just as bad as he is. I just don't eat it off the ground.

Caleb had a wonderful party, with friends and family, including one of his aunts and uncles who flew down to be with us. Caleb's school friends, friends from church, and grandparents were also present, making it even more exciting and special. We are so blessed for the love, friends, and family that we have. And he is so blessed to have the family that he has. I didn't have what he does. And it gratifies my heart to see.

After the party, Caleb, his dad, and Uncle Sean, came to my house to open presents. He had an abundance, of course. Then he took a nap. When he woke up from his nap, he came out of his room and said, "Mom, you hear me?.... I happy! I open the door so I can see you." Then he walked out into the hall and said, "See? The sun is shinning." I am so glad he notices the sun shinning.

The rest of the day was kind of a fail on my part. I will blame my introvert ways for wanting to hole up and reflect/write about the birthday experience. We just hung out at home the rest of the day, and didn't get dinner until it was way too late.

Cheers to another year of growing and learning with Caleb. This 3 year milestone was a good one. And a great birthday for Caleb.
Happy 3rd Birthday, precious boy!