It takes your breath away the first time you look into that tiny face that belongs to the child you brought home from the hospital all those years ago almost 25 now. We sat in the back seat on either side of Judah Gabriel and just breathed in every inch of his small presence. He looked a lot like Taylor but I could see his mama too and I just couldn’t stop looking at him and there it was that love at first sight thing. That swell of love that brings to life a swirl of memories of this child’s parent when he was newly born and you know that your child is now beginning to understand what this overwhelming responsibility and fierce desire to protect and provide feels like and why it can make sane normal people a little crazy at times.
You can see the weight of it on the new parents all of the wonder and joy but also the horror of this is real and what have we done? No one really gets it until you get there. When you have been wearing parenthood for 28 of your 55 years, you forget those early days of panic, exhaustion and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by it all. The early days are so important to a young family, to feel supported and celebrated for their early journeying into parenting. And that was our desire to just help and bond with the baby any way we could. And what a gift to be a part of these early steps into the journey with Judah.
There is a tender dance that must be done between the 2 generations, respecting boundaries and listening for ways to help for the seasoned generation and for the new parents to guide “the helpers” in a respectful and honoring manner. This transpires in the context of exhaustion and high emotion so being tender with each other is important. In our first week, we got the kids out of the house a bit. On Sunday after we arrived we went to church, Taylor had been asked to give a short devotional to the “team” before church so we stayed with Niana to care for the baby while she got dressed and then off to church we went, we had a successful day so we decided to brave a movie all of us dying to see Wonder Woman.We went to an early movie in case the baby got fussy. When we were leaving to go I almost asked if they had the diaper back pack but trying to respect those boundaries I did not. When we got to the theater and realized we didn’t have it I said, “I was going to ask you but figured you had it covered.” And Taylor laughed and said, “Mom in a few months you can assume we got this covered but right now we are still figuring it out and we haven’t gone out much since he was born.” And we all laughed.Judah cried a bit at the beginning but Niana just rocked, walked and him fed him a bit and he slept like a champ.
In every stage of development that are goals that must be reached and accomplished for successful growth. In my opinion becoming a parenting team is crucial to the family. When parents work as team they become true parenting partners. Taylor and Niana had already begun this very process in the matter of sleep. Niana was breastfeeding the baby at night while Taylor slept but in the morning after the early morning feeding Taylor stayed up with the baby so Niana could get some additional rest. When Taylor was promoted to supervisor it required him moving to the 3-11pm shift that made it easier for him to stay up with baby in the morning so Niana could get a little more sleep. He also took on diaper duty most of the day because Mom was feeding most of the day. Internally I was cheering for them both, Judah at 2 weeks already had parents who were practicing team parenting. Starting team strategy in the parenting game is vital and adapting what team looks like at each age is crucial to the health and well-being of the individuals and the family as a unit. But sometimes you just need a designated hitter too.
I had planned to walk in the earl mornings, Taylor had told us in one of our skype sessions about the beautiful trails behind their apartment and after a couple of days adjusting to jet lag, I walked them and later in the day when Niana told me that Judah was wide awake and wanted to play after that last early morning feeding I got an idea. Maybe he could go with me on my walks and they both could get a little more sleep because quite frankly they both looked exhausted. I didn’t know what Niana would say but I floated the invitation and she liked the idea a lot and so the next morning our little routine began. It was such a privilege to be allowed this incredible time with my first grandchild by not my daughter but my daughter-in-law. What a gift. It also so served as a way for both of them to get more undisturbed relaxed sleep.
Watching a young woman become a mother before your very eyes is magical. Watching her utilize her instincts and intuition adapting and learning her baby’s needs and grow in confidence as well. Our Niana is a natural, calm and patient and growing into her role with each nuanced challenge Judah gives her. I marveled at how each generation shapes parenting for the current world. When I breast fed my boys I used a safety pin to keep track of each breast I fed from last (An ingenious idea at the time) but Niana uses her phone to track how long he eats and other vital feeding information. Now that is truly ingenious! I am a very experienced Mom but I realized you must be experienced for today’s world too because that is the world this baby will live in.
Sunday was the baby dedication and Niana’s Mom (Grammie) came to join us for that rite of passage. She and I held hands and tears flowed down my cheeks while the pastor prayed over Judah, His words were perfect. It was a beautiful special day another baby from our line being given to God for His will and direction.
Later that afternoon when Taylor was taking us back to our hotel he said to me “Mom I know you are trying to be respectful of boundaries but we need help. The apartment is too messy for Niana, and can you cook dinner for her this week because she wants to stay close to home to get the baby on a schedule and she has some other things she needs help with.” All things I very much wanted to do but you don’t just clean another woman’s house or make suggests about anything really without invitation. So, on Monday after my walk with Judah Tim and I hit the ground running, we cleaned the apartment, hung pictures, organized book shelves and rearranged some furniture. Niana cared for the baby, answered our questions about her wishes and we worked our magic. We also grilled some chicken and fed her a good dinner. At the end of the day she looked around and said, “I wonder what Taylor is going to say about all of this?” I laughed and said “My Mother has been here” The next day when I picked up the baby for our walk she laughingly told me that was exactly what Taylor had said when he got home. We spent the rest of the week just supporting her as she tried doing different things with baby, like grocery shopping. We just tagged along for support. The dog was happily cared for by Geppetto with lots of walks to the dog park.
On Friday, our last day together Tim cooked pork taco’s made salsa and we watched Moana for the first time with the kids. I sat in the rocker and held Judah while he slept just trying to ingrain the imprint of him on my chest. Tim held and cuddled him too and we prepared ourselves to leave him but nothing really prepares you for that, it is just something you must survive.
It was while I walked with Judah that I processed all the things I was observing and feeling each day. The first 20 minutes or so he would look at me and make adorable baby noises and I would just watch him and talk back. Then he would sleep and while he slept I would pray over him and think about all that is ahead for this little family. They are starting a marathon, the marathon of life raising a child with all its challenges and joys. Taylor and Niana will walk on either side of Judah teaching, guiding, directing him, because it is their turn.
Geppetto and I we will be support team, at rest stops with cool water and dry towels when needed. We will be in the stands on days of accomplishment and achievements cheering like crazy. We will believe Judah hung the moon and will tell everyone who cares to listen just how high. We will be there with arms open wide to hug and cry when disappointments or difficulties emerge for Judah and his parents.
The baby dedication was beautiful but I missed a portion that my husband always included in his baby dedications, first a charge to the parents about their responsibility regarding the child and their response that they would accept that charge. Then he would turn to extended family and the congregation and give them a charge challenging them to support the parents and the baby too. And together the family and congregation would affirm that they would. I always loved that because it felt like the baby had 2 levels of people who wanted all that God wants for that baby and are willing to make the investment. So, Judah Gabriel we do, we stand behind your parents in support for all that concerns you.
Sunday, Father’s Day at the end of the day I was sitting in our living room and I could hear Tim’s voice in our bedroom, he was talking to Taylor. Mychal had called earlier in the afternoon and visited with his Dad on the phone so I knew it had to be Taylor after a long while I walked back to the bedroom to find tears on Tim’s face and a smile in his eyes.
Taylor’s wife and child were in bed and he was walking along the beach telling his Dad all about his revelations of things he now understood about his Dad. His voice was light and fun. So, like the sunshine and light I always call him, I had been a bit worried about him while we were there because he seemed a little serious.
He thanked me again for all I did for them and was grateful because it made their trip to FL easier to do. We chatted a bit more and when we hung up I said, “He sounds so light and relaxed” Tim told me the last night we were there after we left for bed, Judah was very fussy so he put him in the car and went for a drive and started praying over Judah and the Lord met him in his car in a powerful way.
On Father’s Day, the new father was sharing with his father about his time with the Heavenly Father. Just 2 Dad’s sharing the life of being a Dad together and how God is the Good, Good, Father that can always be called upon and entrusted with our children.
Grand parenting the last great relational adventure in life has begun and I could not be happier!
Judah and his parents are in FL for the week participating in the Martin Clan’s annual family reunion at Long Boat Key. Judah is a bicoastal baby, he will grow up with 2 family beach traditions. Long Boat Key and Pismo! I just loved this picture taken by my DIL Niana.