Re-Gifting with God

Baby G Dedication

To date, I haven’t written about my beautiful, bouncing, smiling, drooling, gurgling 6-month old baby boy. Garrett McConner, AKA “Baby G” broke up the dynamics of our tribe at 9:03 a.m. on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. He came out jovial, calm, cool and collected with a kind of swagger no baby should understand. He had all the nurses at the hospital wrapped around his finger. He has a head full of curly hair, and dimples that will one day break some little girl’s heart.

Now my husband and I both belong to his childhood church Zion Bethlehem Missionary Baptist. Although we don’t faithfully attend we are believers in Christ and decided almost in unison to have both our children Dedicated there. Our dear Aunt Faye (also the church Secretary) asked if we wanted to have Baby G’s the first Sunday in January. Truthfully, I didn’t look at the calendar before agreeing. It didn’t hit either of us until the week before that we were in fact asking our family and friends to spend the very first day of the year in Church with us. What a sacrifice.

We chose to forego our quaint New Year’s Eve soiree we were invited to in an effort to be there on time. In fact, it’s the first time I can recall having fallen asleep before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve in years. I was tired. These two babies wear me out. I was so busy preparing clothes, snacks and baby bags for the service that I hadn’t reflected on the importance of what we were gathering to do. It wasn’t until the next day when I looked around the church and noticed at least a third of the congregation there in support of our family that it hit me. Three years of fertility treatments later, after being told I needed to find a surrogate if I wanted babies, here we were surrounded by family as we DEDICATED our baby back to Christ. So what is a Dedication? To me it is a promise to God to do everything within our power to provide our children with the tools necessary to develop their own relationship with Him. It’s a vow to teach our children God’s word and train them to strive to be Christ like in their daily journey. As the Pastor reminded us, our parents and Godparents of our Christian responsibility to this young soul, tears welled up in my eyes. The charge we have been given, the gift of parenthood; at this moment seems overwhelming. Not because of diaper changes, midnight feedings, etc… but the thought of raising a God fearing child in the way they should be, when I myself don’t read the bible every day, and pre-babies I can’t promise you I prayed every night seems far reaching. Do people take these types of services for granted? Do we take time to reflect on the purpose of what can easily be conveyed as just tradition?

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.t5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Now that’s a New Year’s Resolution! The idea of raising our children in a way that would be pleasing to God is no small feat in a world where Nikki Minaj gets more Google hits than the Bible.  And don’t even get me started on the Cartoon Network. I am grateful we have an entire village, including awesome Godparents (you will hear about in the future) to help us with our journey.  So I accept the challenge, but if you catch me slippin, help a sista out!

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Our Own Clark Doll Experiment

When I knew I was having a daughter, there were few things I was certain of, well very few things. But one of them was the uncomfortable realization that some day the world we live in would show its ugly side and tell my beautiful brown baby that she ain’t pretty. It would say your full lips are not attractive, your figure is undesirable, your hair; well don’t even get me started on the kinky hair conversations I am sure she will have to have.  To combat that, I decided I had no choice in accepting this mission, but I would do my very best to constantly tell my daughter from day one how beautiful and special she is, in hopes of placing a few positive words in her survival backpack.

Those close to us know, I monitor the dolls in our home, the few television programs she’s exposed to, the company we keep and the toddlers she spends time with to make sure there is equitable representation of positive African Americans. Okay all except the dolls; she does not own a Caucasian doll, I am sure that’s not equitable, but it’s a decision I made a long time ago. Let’s be real, the iCarly’s of the world are everywhere, but poor Tiana still hasn’t made it to Disney’s castle in Florida.

To make an extremely long story shorter, a few months ago, while away in Atlanta on a business trip. I snuck away to the Aquarium for a family outing. Morgan was in awe, I highly recommend a visit if you have not made it there yet. As in most tourist attractions on the way out, you can’t really leave without walking through the souvenir shop. Well we all know what an excellent job they do of putting expensive toys right at eye level of our curious, tantrum having toddlers. My husband and I almost made it out and then; she saw it.

“OOOOhhhhh mommy can I have that?” Now of course I saw the almost $20 stuffed mermaids that looked home made, but I ask “can you have what?” “That,” she says pointing and stretching not only my eyes, but my arms towards the pile that was broken up into blonde hair mermaids and mermaids with braids. My husband and I look at each other for confirmation and decide; heck we are on somewhat of a vacation, sure she can have one. Now usually when confronted with an option of dolls, my daughter always picks the one closest to her complexion. In fact, for the longest time, she was convinced that Princess Tiana was the ONLY princess. But as a Chocolate Mommy, I constantly look for confirmation of her self-esteem and self-image and both my husband and I were curious to see which mermaid she would choose. She stands there, 2 feet high, puts her left finger on her left side of her cheek cause that’s what she does when she is thinking about something and she boldly grabs the blonde mermaid.

Now at this moment, my head drops a little and I notice an African American male worker watching this scenario, but I have a bigger fish to fry than his nosiness. This is serious. What do I do? This has never happened before, so I look to my husband for support. Without words we understand we have got to address this right here and right now. Truthfully, I think I froze, so my husband walks to the pile and picks up the one with braids and says, “I like this one Morgan, her hair is like yours. It’s so pretty.” Whew, ain’t nothing like a spouse that has your back. So I reiterate, “yes Morgan, let’s get that one.” Without hesitation, it’s done, she is happy and we have just been put on notice. As we checked out, the African American male worker that watched this entire thing like an episode of the Cosby Show, smiles and says “my mom would have said the same thing.” Now I reserve judgement on if his mom was redirecting him buying a doll or someone else, but recognized his effort to comfort us in our decision. Now of course I am aware of the famous 1939 and 1950 Clark Doll Experiment, when black children overwhelming chose white dolls over black dolls, but I didn’t know those children. I didn’t raise those children. I was prayerful that in a positive, controlled, pro-black environment that my daughter would at least make it out of pre-school without such bias. Now what?

MET and MLK

Where do I begin. Hands down, my favorite time of night is bedtime, not because of the end result, but because of the true quality time I get to have leading up to it. Every night like clockwork at 7:30 p.m. my entire family makes the pilgrimage upstairs. My hands are always full with a cup of milk, bedtime snack, bottles for middle of the night feedings etc…Baths are up first, hubby takes baby boy, I take ME. We bathe them at the same time and meet up in ME’s room for reading a few books, dancing to a few songs, reciting the Lord’s prayer together, hugs and kisses and Garrett takes Baby G to his room and I lay beside ME in her toddler bed where we discuss our day, the rest of the week, who got in trouble in school that day etc…She refers to this as “mommy time.” I LOVE it.

Well tonight began with regular stuff, Eli got in trouble for putting soap on the bathroom floor and had to go to time out. Then we moved to the week’s calendar. Wednesdays are always exciting cause that’s dance class day. So I started with that, then I moved to Friday being opening night of Beauty and the Beast and how we should go to the movies. She reminded me that she has not read that book, so I said how about we go to the library tomorrow and get a library card and borrow the book so we can read it before the movie comes out. She smiles, throws both hands in the air and says “I’m so EXCITED.” I laughed at her excitement at getting a library card. Patting myself on the back right now…lol.

Then we moved to Saturday. So I say on Saturday we have a birthday party for Martin Luther King. Now I know she knows about him because she has a book she reads about him. But I wasn’t ready for what came next. She asked me if he would be there. I told her no, because he died. She sits up in her bed looks at me and says “He died? That’s really sad news.” I acknowledged the sadness. She asked me how he died. Which this is surprising because I never talked with her about death, somewhere she has picked up the sadness associated with leaving earthly loved one’s behind. Truthfully I wasn’t ready to explain King’s death to a 2 year-old, but I did the best I could on my feet. I say to her that MLK talked with a lot of people about loving each other and not fighting and some people didn’t like it and a bad man shot him in the head. She said “Oh no, how come the doctor couldn’t fix his boo boo?” So I say that it was too late to fix him by the time he got to the doctor. I then say it was sad because a lot of people loved him and he had daughters like you. What did I say that for, cause then she says “he had daughters?” “What were their names?” I’m stumped! I can’t remember for the life of me, so I yell to Garrett whose now downstairs chilling, to google MLK’s daughter’s names. I guess curiosity brought him up to join us and to remind me that their names are Yolanda and Bernice. She says oh, Yolanda and Bernice. She then asks us where is MLK now, so I say he is with God in heaven, she said can we see him. I told her no. She asks if we can see him in the sky? So I let her get out of bed and go to her window and I was a little disappointed because it’s kind of cloudy and you can’t really see a lot of stars, but she did manage to see one and her excitement was all over her face. “I see him, I see him.” I was trying my BEST not to cry. I tell her it’s time to go back to bed, it’s getting late. She asks if she can bring her MLK book with her and I couldn’t deny such a request. In the whole 2 years my child has been on this earth, and as much as she loves books, she has NEVER asked to sleep with one. She put the book on her belly and said “I love Martin Luther King” and kissed his picture. I told her he loves her too and told her it was time to close her eyes and go to sleep. WHAT an AWESOME little girl, I can only pray I can live up to what she needs to continue to grow.

Amazed,