7 yrs may seem like a long time for most of you, especially if I asked you to recall what you were doing…
Richard and I laugh and look at each other confused and somewhat sadden that we know exactly where we were 7 yrs ago, most because it seems surreal.
Its hard to pinpoint the moment that we identified ourselves as parents, honestly, we still would struggle saying 7 yrs ago. When we share stories with friends or new parents, we always joke that we are lucky Cayden can’t remember that far back. Really, we are. It was hard to have a baby away from family and even though we had amazing friends who embraced our new titles, none could relate with us.
The disruption to our social life, our sleep routines or the sudden wake up call to real life was extremely challenging. We thought we were ready to take care of someone else since we took such good care of our needs. After Cayden’s birth we realized that we were babies, raising a baby and it was scary.
As Cayden grew his first year, so did we. We learned, developed new skills and reach important milestones with him. The most memorable one was getting our little guy sleeping through the night. It took a dear friend telling us that our sleep routine was in need of a big change. Apparently stashing bedding for which ever parent lost the rock paper scissors tournament each night was a red flag. Many nights were spent holding his hand through the crib and crawling on hands and knees while holding our breath in hopes that we would escape his room before the other parent gave up and fell asleep without us.
Our hearts ache when we recall the expectations we had for him when he was just 19 months and we were trying to figure out how to live inbetween the hospital and Ronald McDonald’s house. He was a champ and rarely threw a fit and rolled with the punches. He just wanted to be around his mommy and daddy and forgave the moments when we expected him to act like a 5 yr old. He would lean in and hold us when we would rock his sick new baby sister. It was in his second year of life that he was in the beginning stages of learning how to be who is down to the core.
Cayden is a caretaker. He is compassionate, many times giving more of himself then a child much older would be willing to give. Most of all Cayden affirms to us time after time that God was placing alot of trust in the little man that would make his parents understand what unfailing love and grace would mean and also the little man who would be there to help his guide his sisters through life.
Almost every morning of spring break was met with him in the kitchen making his sisters breakfast and begging me to please let him make me coffee while I relaxed on our slow mornings. One day while sitting on the couch nursing his baby sister I looked over my shoulder to find this sweet picture.
One Saturday morning Cayden knew his worn out parents were exhausted and trying to prolong their time in their bed, so he walked in, grabbed his baby sister and said, you guys go back to bed I have her.
At a very recent doctor appointment that required all siblings to attend, it was revealed that Ezzy was going to have to have a throat culture, something that makes her break out in a sweat and tears roll down her face. She immediately looked down after the doctors words were uttered and after seeing his sisters fear, Cayden said “wow, Ezzy, you CFers are the braviest people I know, I could never do what you guys do”. Her head raised, she smiled at him, turned to me with the tears sitting on the edge of her eyelids and opened wide.
To be honest friends, his heart, his kindness is something that I don’t think all came from life lessons from his parents. We are imperfect, broken people, who struggle just like you and unfortunately make mistakes along the way. BUT I will tell you that dedicating his life to Christ as a baby, praying specifically for him in ways that God told us to pray for absolutely developed a maturity that doesn’t reflect his age. He knows when his mom reaches her limits and will offer help when I least expect it, let alone from him.
His recent emergency surgery to remove pieces of his ear plugs left us with a little guy that was terrified, but hid his nervous energy with silence and a somberness that left the hospital staff in awe. When most kids would have been lashing out at a stressful event (trust me, I heard 2 other kids loosing it in the pre/post op area) he was leaning into me and asked me to pray with him. After a mother’s prayer, that most definitely goes to the front of the line was said, I had a little man tell me he was ok because he knew “God was going with him”.
I have learned many critical lessons from the little soul that entered the world on 3-23-2008. Some are wrapped in guilt and remorse but for the most part come in packages bursting with Joy and as I watch him discover who he is.
Driving home one day from the gym I was listening to the Moody Bible station and the topic was directed at moms with littles. The speaker was explaining how important it is to not get wrapped up in the difficult years of childhood because those are the years we are forming the future…to understand that by the time the teen years start, our influence of parents declines. When I added up the years until he turned 14, I realized that I had only 7 more years left with him. I almost hyper ventilated in the car. Shortly after Cayden told me he really wanted to go with me in the early am and teach me all that he has learned on his swim team. Richard was shocked I was willing to get up at 5:45 am and drive us to the pool, but I told him what I had recently learned and didn’t want to miss this opportunity to respond to his heart. It will be one of my favorite memories with him because I learned from him what a patient teacher his is after he helped me work on certain strokes and flip turns.
Cayden currently spends his waking and sleeping moments dreaming of living the life of an outdoorsman. Our dear friend Ken exposed him to the world of duck hunts and Cayden has forgotten his life before being a duck commander.
Ken told us that we needed to return the bbb gun we got Cayden and get a .22 for him instead, since he was going to be a duck hunter for the rest of his life. I decided that we can wait for one more year before he gets a .22 or see if he can save up by selling the furs. Joel showed him what fun it is to take a walk, aka a marathon in the woods and run trap lines in hopes that he will have trapped a mink and ermin.
Our son loves this life so much that his birthday party this Saturday entails him and a few of his buddies running the trap line, shooting bbbs and skinning a land otter. I literally had to get consent from all the parents’ who’s little guys would be exposed to Cayden’s idea of fun. He has learned to respect the land and sea and I do not doubt that he will be an abundant provider for his family.
Cayden desires his friends to know who God is, so much so that he had me call our church office to get enough invites for his entire class.
He wanted them all to know about our church’s largest outreach event.
We couldn’t be more proud of the little man that is growing up and succeeding in life even with parents that still say “sorry dude, we are learning with you” after a time out and listening to God correct us which results in us apologizing.
My little guy is reading at a 5th grader level and he is only in first grade! I just spoke to the student teacher who helps with the science part of the day and was informed that Cayden will repeat verbatim what is explained and then demonstrate his accurate understanding of the new concept. I know that whatever Cayden sets his sights on in life that the determination, compassion and willingness to think of others before himself will be integral to his success.
William Cayden Harney, Happy Birthday my 7 yr old!!! Thank you for drawing us closer to our Abba father as we learn to lead you to him and also let you grow and dream in this big world!