A Crib, A Dresser and A Divine Appointment (Summer Reflections Part I)

Sometimes and idea is just an idea and sometimes it an idea with a bullet. A bullet speeds from a gun with intention and destination and sometimes without knowing it an idea can take an unexpected but specific direction. I felt exactly that as I sat across the table from a young girl (A-David-the-giant-killer-type-of-girl) and she asked me if I liked being a teacher and I said “Yes, I do.”

I was standing in the garage looking at the dresser when I got the idea that I should offer the beautiful cherry wood crib and dresser, both respective gifts from our families, to Allison and Mychal for Baby Girl Clem. Mychal is our legacy kid which is kind a funny because everything else about him is current and a little edgy. He likes tradition and first annuals and connection to family.

Tim and I decided we wanted to pay for the crib for each grandchild and we had done that for Judah but when I thought of Mychal I thought he might like the crib and dresser that he and his brother had used as babies. I had kept them all these years so when I had a grandchild it could be used when they were visiting. But standing in the garage I realized that it should go to BGC (Baby Girl Clem) and maybe it would be meaningful to Mychal.

I set up a skype appointment with Mychal and Allison to talk about baby stuff and after checking to see how Allison was feeling and catching up I said, “As you know we bought the crib for Taylor and Niana and we would like to do the same for you but we would also like to offer you…” And before I could say it Mychal said “We get the crib! I knew it” He had a big smile on his face and was so excited. I was prepared for anything but not the fact that he had already thought about it and was hoping for it. I quickly told Allison that this was her first baby too and she had the right to something new and if she wanted to think about it but she said she agreed with Mychal. Of course, we explained that as soon as we got of school Tim would work on it and restore it with fresh sanding and stain and we would bring it down to them. But I couldn’t help appreciating the fact that these 2 wanted this connection to family. Mychal had assumed as the first born that he should get it, and it would be too expensive to ship across the country to his brother anyway and he was pleased that we had offered it. There is a reason that first-born children receive family legacy, it is not really about birth right it is more an apology because the first kid is the Guinea pig, the kid that gets all your mistakes and failures as you are learning to be a parent and they are the kid that makes you a much better parent for the ones that follow. They should get something for all of that, right?!

So, last week we moved a drop cloth into the kitchen and Tim worked for 3 days sanding, staining restoring the wood luster of the crib and dresser and I ordered a new mattress, changing pad and cover, the dresser has a lid that drops down to reveal a changing table. When we were moving the dresser into the kitchen for Tim to work on he was giving me directions to be careful and I reminded him that I helped him carry that dresser up the stairs to our apartment when I was 8 months pregnant! He reminded me we are not in our 20’s anymore and to be careful. We like to try to out funny each other. We reminisced a lot about our babies and how now they were having babies as he restored the furniture.

On Friday after somehow Tim had managed to pack it all into my Honda Fit we were on our way. I sent Mychal a text to let him know we were on the road and instead of the usual “K” I got an actual response, “If you get here early you should come by work and check it out.” Mychal started a new job at the beginning of the year and was excited to share it with us. Tim put it in the GPS and off we went until we needed gas and pulled off the HWY where we were hit by another car and spent 2 hours on the side of the road. My little FIT is a bit smashed up but we are okay. We made it to Mychal’s work place just in time to meet both bosses who are brothers. (More about that encounter in part 2 of Summer Reflections) After being duly impressed by everything we went onto our hotel, later that night we unloaded the crib into the apartment.

We had a great weekend with the kids and setting up the crib in their apartment was a highlight and seeing how much they loved it brought happy tears. We had planned to go to the early service on Sunday then drive home but late Saturday night we got a text from Mychal asking us if we would consider staying a little later because his boss wanted to take us to lunch after church. They all attend the same church. How could we turn down an opportunity to hear how great our kid is while the person telling you that also pays for lunch?!

I found myself at the end of the table sitting next to the 2 daughters of the Reisner family and across from their Mom. The conversation was light and fun while were ordering and getting to know each other a bit, Cory told us a little about how his business had come to be and what a difference Mychal had made in his short time there and I told Cory that a lot of toys had to die for Mychal to be the computer genius he is today. We all laughed, the food came and we were just enjoying a very pleasant time together when Tim shared an incident that had happened the night before when I chimed in to tell my part I referenced the fact that I was a teacher.  And that’s when Kira, the older daughter looked at me and asked me if I liked being a teacher and I said “Yes” and then she asked me what grade I taught and I told her. Then she told me she was going into 7th grade. I asked about her school and that’s when it happened. My good idea to share family heirlooms became a divine appointment.

We started talking about school and how large hers was and how she kind a wanted to maybe go to Christian school but she was torn because she wanted to start a Christian club on her public-school campus. It was challenging because the guidance counselor at her school is very resistant to Christianity and that is the person she must work with in getting this club started. She told me all she had done and yet the counselor kept making it so hard for her. Finally, a Christian PE teacher intervened  making sure she got an appointment at the right time by letting her meet with the counselor during her PE time. She was passionate, articulate and visionary. This is not a phone-scrolling, eye rolling, how long do we have to sit here with people we don’t know kind a girl. She is slight in build but powerful in spirit. I began to share with her how I share my faith at school, the things I can do that won’t get me fired but can send a message that Christian kids are safe in my classroom. She asked me questions and listened intently to everything I had to say. I realized rather quickly that I was talking to someone very special and when I was telling her how God would be with her and direct her path all she had to do was follow His leading the tears came, I could hardly talk for a minute or 2.

I could sense the presence of God and I knew there was an anointing on this moment, that something Holy was happening between Kira and me. Everyone else at the table stopped talking and listened in for the last few words the Lord gave me for her. The conversation lightened a bit and I encouraged her to start writing in a prayer journal and some other things. She listened, responded and was just so thoughtful and reflective in her responses. I thought to myself who is this girl? Who is she going to be? I was impressed with her and humbled that God had given me some words for her during this time.

Normal conversation resumed and then it was time to head for home. We thanked Cory for lunch and as I was walking to the door my son put his arm around me and asked me if I enjoyed lunch.

“Yes, these are good people and I am happy for you.” Then I said “Kira is someone very special. I want you to get her the Wrinkle in Time Trilogy”  “You mean the quartet?” Yes get her the quartet.” I laughed at him and we said our goodbyes.

I was standing in the garage when I got the idea to give the kids the crib and dresser but all the while God had a divine moment that needed to transpire and so He weaved the ideas and thoughts into my heart and mind to get us to this specific place and time for this moment to happen. He is always at work connecting people, what often seem like chance encounters or happy accidents are really God at work in us and through us.

 

I am so excited that BGC is going to use this beautiful furniture that was given to us by the Clements and Cunningham Families. I still love the curving arches on the crib.

Judah

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.