Wednesday, April 30, 2008

... dearest Jesus +

Every evening, we end our bedtime routine with Sydney by praying over her the prayer I grew up saying. My sister and I were blessed to grow up in a home rich with love and nurture. We were “tucked in” each and every night.

Actually, I can vividly recall the night some time in the mid-teenager years when I bravely (and in my mind oh-so-maturely) told my Dad and Mom that I was “okay” on my own.

I went into my bedroom. Closed the door; and laid there in the darkness listening to the whir of the ceiling fan, wishing I could somehow call out to my parents to come say goodnight and pray with me, while still preserving my sense of teenage independence. After that “Wendy-leaving-the-nursery” moment, I routinely invited Mom and Dad to still come say goodnight. Not every night, but enough to keep the ritual alive and well.

It was something of a tender and inexpressible joy to teach my husband this child’s prayer. He asked me to repeat each phrase again and again until he had it down pat. As we place our hands on our little baby each night and pray to our Heavenly Father, I can’t help but be moved. People who know me well are not surprised by this reflection; I have always been a “rooted” person. Sharing a bedtime prayer from my childhood with my child is a moment rich with heritage, constancy and tradition. Sharing this prayer reminds me of the blessings of my youth and the grace with which my parents raised me.

This prayer is yet my own and its tender simplicity has become a source of rich reflection over these last 16-weeks of new parenthood.

The prayer is this:

Dearest Jesus, wash away
all that has been wrong today.
Help me every day to be
good and gentle, more like thee.

Thus far, being a Mommy has revealed me to be a far better and far worse person than I knew I was. Far better in that I have discovered patience, which I never thought I possessed. I have encountered contentment, without the exhausting pursuit of perfection. I am learning that I have the capacity to be better and more comfortable and more relaxed in my own skin – something I have worked on all my life. And all it took was the arrival of a tiny creature so immensely beyond my ability to control and BAM, I feel calm.

As for the far worse … It has become patently obvious that: I am selfish. I am easily irritated at my dear husband. I am critical and impatient when the “routine” is not followed. And for some unexplainable reason, my faults seem amplified now that I realize there are little eyes watching. It’s unnerving.

And so, each night the words “wash away all that has been wrong today” strike a deep chord in me; and the hope to be “good and gentle more like thee” has new meaning as well.

I don’t know where my parents learned this prayer. I did a little Googling and found it as the second verse of an old German hymn, "Now the Light Has Gone Away" by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879, and there the first words are “Jesus Savior …” My Dad was raised in an extremely German home and I am guessing this came to our family through those channels, I don’t know.

Perhaps now that I am grown, I can add a verse or two to this simple prayer. It seems to me that nurturing devotion to the Father through prayer and song and Word will provide me and Leon with new and fresh and vibrant understanding about how we can better love Sydney. Our love for her is a direct overflowing of our love for Jesus … The hymn actually offers this idea in prayerful verse and concludes:

Thou, my best and kindest Friend,
Thou wilt love me to the end.
Let me love Thee more and more,
Always better than before.

This is a fitting prayer for our life with Jesus and our love for Sydney.

Simple? Sure.

True. Most assuredly.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

+ centered +

As many of you know, I started a new job at Concordia Publishing House this week, which is to say the Jameson family started a new job this week. The experience was something like the first day of school. For five straight days.

That's sort of how life has felt for months now, truth be told.

To say its been a fairly hectic few days would certainly be an understatement. It's not that the hours were exceedingly long or the job exceedingly stressful; it was just NEW. After 10-years of marriage, six years at the International Center, and 15-weeks as a new, young family, this week was a departure from "our norm". (Whatever that is!) And we found ourselves muddling through with some success, some stress, some late nights, and several early mornings. Nothing felt "normal", routine or typical; and certainly nothing was boring, average or ordinary.

What has proved most intriguing this week has been that our family time has become the most sane, most low-key and most necessary experience in the midst of all of this change. Life with Sydney is the newest and most unpredictable part of our day. Yet it was when we were finally home together at the end of work and commuting and coaching tennis and worrying over the multitude of mundane daily "to-dos" that we found ourselves most at peace, most content and certainly most restored to get up and do it all again the next morning.

Every day with Sydney brings with it some incredible new moment. Just the reality that her physical self is never the same from day to day is amazing. She is continually growing, striving, reaching and developing right before our eyes. A new job with new co-workers and new challenges doesn't hold a candle to the changes that Sydney has brought into our lives, but somehow the upheaval on the home front is actually a calming, reassuring thing. Coming home to Sydney doesn't feel exhausting or overwhelming. Instead, after a day of the unfamiliar, her familiar, chaotic presence is something we crave. It puts everything else into brilliant, obvious perspective.

Our desire to be fully present in our moments with Sydney is essential to us. Together, Leon and I drink in our new, burgeoning sense of "family"deeply and with gratitude. We pour our hearts into our at-home time; energy and joy and enthusiasm we have long expended elsewhere is now fueling our own home. It is difficult to fully express how this surge of investment feels and how it is changing us.

So ~ this week was definitely new and overwhelming and insane and fun and extremely unpredictable. But in the midst of all of that was Sydney. And Leon. And me. And even Bailey. And our brand new, God-granted family proved the center that held it all together.

How incredible is that?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Remembrances of Chet and Irene ...

When I was a girl, few things thrilled like a visit from our out-of-town relatives, especially a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Staude. Perhaps it was because it happened so rarely ~ they far preferred staying home on the farm in Saint Joe, MI, and we were more than happy to visit them there. But a few times, usually in the early fall after the grape harvest was complete, Grandma and Grandpa made the drive to Saint Louis to see us. We would be excited for days before their visit. When "the day" would finally arrive, my sister and I were overwhelmed with anticipation! The school day simply crawled by as we grew more and more excited (and pity our poor parents who had to answer again and again, "What time will they be here?!").

Finally, we would be home ~ waiting at the front window, watching ... watching ... and then! we would see them! Now that I am a grown-up, and recognize how strangely tiring it is drive across the country, I simply can't imagine how my grandparents managed to keep pace with us as we hurtled ourselves out of the front door and down the lawn to meet them before they had more than one foot out of the car!

Grandparents coming to visit were a very big deal, indeed!

This weekend, Sydney's Nanny Jameson is here to visit. Watching her tenderly love on and coo over her baby granddaughter, I am coming to understand how my Grandparents found the energy to love on us even after long hours of travel. Her gasp of joy, mingled with just a little wistfulness as she saw her little Sydney (who was taking a nap, of course!) for the first time in 2-months, touched my heart. And Sydney, even as young as she is, seems keenly aware that she has the undivided attention of our house guest. Nanny played and held and fed and rocked and bathed and snuggled with Sydney ~ and she's only been here since 2:30 this afternoon! She came bearing gifts in a suitcase bigger than the MINI and probably wants to stay forever! Sydney is blessed indeed, even only 15-weeks old, to have Nanny come to visit. (Grandad Jameson, we know you are reading this and are here in spirit! Next time!)

I feel thankful that my daughter has the blessing of something I did not have (and isn't that the sort of thing so many of us want for our children?). She has doting grandparents here in town, who are part of her "every day" moments, which is a relationship I never knew. And she also has the blessing of "far away" grandparents, whose special visits become a source of such excitement and "spoiling" and fun that you just can't wait and you never want them to end.

Sydney has both and as hard as it is for Nanny and Grandad Jameson to live so far away, we want them to know that they have a special role in Sydney's life and we love it when they are here!

What a weekend lies ahead!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

... kick me ...

A fabulous commentary ran this morning on NPR. If you're not a fan of FRANK DEFORD, you should be. This morning's piece, "Sweetness and Light" suggests that perhaps the Olympic Games have run their course in our contemporary, global experience ... it's a good read, but a better listen. CLICK HERE and give Deford's piece some consideration (at the very least, I learned that the Olympic torch was the brain child of Nazi Germany ... interesting, and makes it ~ as a symbol ~ lose just a bit of its mystique ... at least for this idealist.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

... leftover chinese and a velour track suit ...

... Sydney has drifted off in her bouncy seat (after loads of spit up, laughter and involved playing ...) Bailey is similarily cashed out; his movement restricted to the towels by the back door (as a result of his exceedingly spring-muddy paws!), and in this quiet interlude, I am racing to heat up 3-day old cashew chicken, pour a glass of my dad's Rolling Meadows Niagara wine and switch from Seinfeld re-runs to WE's scheduled movie, Must Love Dogs ... (or maybe it's playing on Oxygen? Whatever.) I read the book years ago, but never saw the movie, so this is mighty exciting Saturday-night-romantic-comedy-stuff!


Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, it occurs to me that I am far too excited about a bowl of leftovers (the caloric content of which doubtless renders obsolete this afternoon's 3-mile tread mill run)and a lonely evening at home. Here's what's up: Leon is at Trivia Night, an annual occassion that I normally attend with great enthusiasm. However, this year is a "break" for me. Sort of. At any rate, he's there. I'm home. And I'm looking forward to the rest of the evening ...

I suppose that I could get all sad and morose that nobody invited me to join a table (I am, after all, one of those overly sensitive-analytical people ... "what does this mean?" I ask. Probably nothing, but my over-sensitive self wants to make it mean something, when (hopefully)in reality people are probably thinking, "she has a baby". Actually, in reality, people probably aren't thinking at all! I am hardly that important! ... Besides, and may I be sour-grapes for just a moment, I am not a massive fan of Trivia Nights. I always feel like I should know the answers to the bizarre questions, and rarely do. I hate the sports round. In all honesty, I really go for the food and the wine!)

I digress.

The truth is, this totally comfortable, homebody evening comes as a complete reward after what can only be described as a really, really heinous and looooong week. Work stress, new job stress, new mom stress ... and too little sleep. (Ironically, my lack of sleep these days has nothing whatsoever to do with Sydney and everything to do with my own inability to "let it go ...", the proverbial "it" being a whole wealth of stupid stresses that are really not as big a deal as my late night worrying makes them!)All of this has left me craving the quiet of home and the comfort of my favorite velour track suit.

Comfort foods. Comfort clothes. And isn't it funny ~ the "newest" part of our life (that being Miss Sydney) feels like the absolute most comfort of all in the chaos that is "grown-up" life.