Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On earth, as it is in heaven

Observing as a grandparent is so much more comfortable than as a parent. It is with great joy that I write that statement. Muffin and I are here to observe, enjoy, assist, and photograph. Today we observed the amazing alertness of Baby Gracie, the difficulty of being the three year old brother, the relatively new assistance of a lactation consultant, and relived the emotions of being the parents of two small children living in suburban America.

When our children were little our pre-natal care was better than that of our Mother’s, but not as good as that of our daughters. Our babies were not born trying to hold up their heads or turn over in their cribs. And speaking of cribs, they are part of the total design for the nursery, with monitors attached and beautifully and artfully designed as part of the interior of the house. Expecting our first baby and living 1500 miles from our parents, along with being on a very tight budget, we and our friends went dumpster diving for throw-aways and carpet scraps. The cast off pieces became lamps and chairs that were re-painted within a theme like “bunny rabbits”, or “clowns”, or something really clever that could be cut with a sharp pair of scissors or painted as a copy from a magazine. You know, something really original like flowers for girls and cars for boys. The carpet scraps were glued to a carpet pad the size of the floor where the new baby would sleep at night. It was colorful, and patchwork, but not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination. I sewed and owned a good machine, which saved bundles of money and made some honest to goodness interior design possible. I bought miles of green gingham checks, threading yards of elastic through about 3 rows of casing to make a bassinette skirt/cover/pads/pillows, and comforter. Green was the color of choice since it suited male/female d├ęcor and sonograms were only for those who had serious medical conditions which required immediate information. Hence, hardly anyone knew the sex of the baby in advance of birth. Total cost of all that green was about $10.00. Add one can of carpet glue to that bill.

When our second baby was expected, we saved the gingham outfit and built on a theme. This time it was an entire room, since we had moved from Capehart housing on an Air Force base to a small town. We painted one wall bright green and two white with two colors of green grass growing up from the patchwork scrappy carpet. The third wall, the long one opposite the baby crib and the baby’s closet, was a Richard Scarry fantasyland. It had all sorts of creatures from his book, The Best Richard Scarry Storybook Ever. Muffin painted each and every one of them, complete with a cricket fiddling under a mushroom. Above the grass and the creatures were the words “All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.” I sewed curtains for the small window in an animal print—jungle animals hiding in green grass. Total cost was about $15.00 for two large cans of paint and some jungle fabric. It was about two months later before we moved Boo into the room because she stayed in our room in the green gingham bassinette. The bassinette was the same one I slept in as an infant.

Very, and I mean VERY, soon after that, I learned that Joy was on the way. I had the urge to re-do everything. I would have knocked holes in the kitchen to make a new back door if I’d had time to stop breastfeeding and sewing real clothes for two little girls. My “lactation consultant” was my grandmother. Virtually everything she told me I tried. If that didn’t work, I read my La Leche League books and called my friends. Mostly, I just didn’t do anything else except breastfeed, eat, sleep when I could, and play the violin enough to remember how to do it. We kept the jungle/Scarry room for Joy.

Four years later when I learned I was pregnant with Kak, I was sick of the green stuff and found some fabric with a gingham patchwork theme that also had some clouds on blue background. I went crazy. Had Muffin paint the walls all over again—white and blue with white clouds. I sewed new bumper pads, curtains, comforters, pillows, chair covers, and then made three primary colored hot air balloons from fabric which I then had monogrammed with “Jesus Loves Me”. Because the patchwork print had hot air balloons flying among the clouds. Joy didn’t move into that room for many months, because we didn’t have the heart to move Boo out at such a tender age. No monitors, no devices, just rocking chairs planted in their rooms with lots of books to read and places to cuddle. It wasn’t nearly as sophisticated or safety oriented as Gracie’s beautiful room, or as the Rowdy Girls room either. I think all of that decoration must have cost about $25.00 since I waited forever for the fabric store to have a sale on the printed fabric and used scraps for trims.

Today I looked at Gracie’s beautiful outfits, her ingenious baby swing, her gorgeous pink ladybug and butterfly room and remembered lots of things. I remembered how much I wanted to show love to and for my children, both by teaching them and by giving them “things”. Later in the day Jbear was struggling with obedience and good manners and having his Daddy return to work and his Mommy tired and his grandparents whom he rarely sees practically living with him all day. He was so thrilled to see us this morning, but by the end of the day was just tired and almost pushing everyone away. And I realized that we are so like that with our Father. He gives us beautiful gifts every day and listens to us get excited about some of them, ignore some of them, and whine about way too many of them. We ask Him for gifts and he gives them and then we get tired of them and ask for more. Our gratitude is buried beneath our constant list of “I wants”. How He must long to just hold our faces in His hands, turn our eyes toward Him and say, “Just use your good manners. Show some people on earth, what it is like in heaven and just praise Me for what I have already done for you.”

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