Tom turns one year old today, and it doesn’t feel like that long ago we were sharing crazy nesting stories and I introduced him to you. The festivities continue into the weekend, but for now I was thinking about how I’ve made so many personal changes thanks to him, things I never thought I could do.
The year my daughter, my first child, was born was the most blissful, peaceful year of my life. She was an easy baby to care for and indulged me with three naps a day. I had free time to read, become accustomed to being a stay at home mom, and pursue my interests which led to writing here at Small Notebook.
This past year that Tom was born has challenged me to grow in ways I didn’t expect, it has stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable of and refined me to be stronger in the end. Oh baby who does not nap and who cries whenever I set you down! On your very first day the Lord impressed on my heart, “Be gentle with him.” I would have been at my wit’s end otherwise.
When he was three weeks old I felt convicted to stop drinking soda. My daughter was old enough to notice what I drank, and I didn’t want her to develop a taste for it. I stopped buying soda and drinking it at home, although I still had it sometimes when we went out. I drank more tea.
Shortly after that, we realized Tom showed several signs of food intolerance from the beginning, and I gave up all my favorite foods. My husband and daughter have food intolerances too, and though I tried to be similar to them, I found it so hard to do on my own. A couple of years ago I read Sally Parrot Ashbrook’s story of how when she changed her diet, her husband supported her and gave up foods too. When I read that, I thought two things:
1. What a loving thing to do.
2. I could never do that.
So here I had just stopped drinking soda at home, which was something I had depended on when I needed a shot of energy or a break, and now I was avoiding the foods on a list that grew longer with every passing week. I was giving up my dependence on comfort foods. It was worth it though. I realized I could make a safe haven for my kids at home, because everywhere else they go they are exposed to risk of becoming sick from other people’s food. I didn’t expect the blessing of family unity when I conformed to their needs instead of holding out with my own.
Without a break during the day, I was exhausted by 9 p.m., and I started going to bed early. I wrote about how changed from being a night owl to an early bird, and how it once felt natural to stay up late, but I finally started taking better care of myself.
Recently I had started drinking more tea with caffeine. I also started drinking more soda because when we went out I got refills since I knew I wouldn’t have it at home. I suspected caffeine made me irritable, but I assumed it was normal for a mom to feel slightly run down and tired at the end of a hard day. I loved the momentary boost I got from drinking tea or soda. I depended on it. I thought I needed it.
I loved drinking cups of hot tea. I love the routine of preparing them, the tradition, and the social aspects of getting together over coffee and tea. It was a nice respite that I still clung to, but then my baby boy changed it all. I became aware that every time I drank caffeine, his eczema flared up. So I gave that up too.
I started drinking water exclusively. After a week, I was amazed at how my mood and alertness improved. Even my husband noticed. I didn’t have mood swings in the late afternoon. I felt even-tempered and happy!
I had given up caffeine before, and I had tried to drink more water before, and I sort of tried to consume less sugar, but this was the first time I consistently did all three at the same time. For me, that was the secret.
1. I completely stopped drinking caffeine. Though some people favor a gradual step down, I always prefer to make big changes cold turkey.
2. I started drinking lots of water. I have a big jug I fill up twice a day, and I add sprigs of mint and a scant teaspoon of sugar to 32 ounces of water. It makes a refreshing minty water that I drink much faster than plain water.
3. I avoided extra sugar. After giving up so many foods, the cups of tea became my main source of sugar. I avoid herbal tea now. Though I don’t have a problem with herbal tea, I found myself adding heaping spoonfuls of sugar to each cup. If I slowly drink a cup of herbal tea, I won’t be as hydrated as when I drink a jug of water.
When I had previously given up coffee, tea, and soda, I was always conscious of how I was going without something that I wanted. It was really hard, and it only lasted as long as my willpower.
This time is different. I feel good, and I don’t feel like I’m going without. I finally found good health that other people alluded to, but which had seemed impossible, or impossibly hard.
All the times before that I had heard other people say to consume less caffeine and more water hadn’t motivated me to make a change, but feeling this good motivates me to keep it this way. I knew I had broken free from my addiction when I didn’t want to drink any tea or soda because it didn’t feel worth messing up how good I felt.
I want to be a “drink water” evangelist. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this way on a daily basis. I get to be a happy mom, and I really feel like it, I don’t have to fake it for my family. I can still “go out for coffee,” I just buy a bottle of water instead. I also don’t need to use under-eye concealer as much anymore because the dark circles under my eyes have faded and gone away.
Thank you, sweet guy.